Gloom's lifting around Letchworth
Welwyn 6 Letchworth Garden City 24 Letchworth played some of their brightest rugby of the season to overcome their Garden City rivals in spite of the dark, dismal and downright depressing weather. This result left Welwyn rooted to the bottom of London Two
Welwyn 6 Letchworth Garden City 24
Letchworth played some of their brightest rugby of the season to overcome their Garden City rivals in spite of the dark, dismal and downright depressing weather.
This result left Welwyn rooted to the bottom of London Two North and despite the efforts of veteran Austen Cox and clever work by fly-half Hughes, they had little to offer.
This Letchworth team, however, are starting to gel and have now moved up to seventh in the league.
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The young triumvirate of Harvey Howman, Rick Streets and Henry Robinson all had outstanding games, while Gavin Donald, brother of All Black Steve, had one of his best games in a Letchworth shirt.
The boiler house of Giles Cooke and Tim Moynihan added much-needed beef to the pack, while the back row of Lewis Hett, Jaggi Johal and South African Pieter Sterrenberg must be the most awesome in this league.
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Indeed Hett had an exceptional game at blindside and was voted man of the match.
The teams stood for a minute's silence in the rain owing to the sudden death of Welwyn president Clive Harkett.
Letchworth had slope advantage in the first half and Donald and Robinson both kicked intelligently for position. However, as in previous weeks, the penalty count was far in excess of their opponents and good attacking positions were lost because of it.
Donald slotted a penalty after 10 minutes but Welwyn struck back almost immediately after a Letchworth player failed to release on a rare invasion into their half.
Donald slotted two more kicks before Robinson's neat chip nearly saw Streets over in the corner.
Welwyn chipped back at the lead with Hughes kicking a fine penalty from the 10m line. It was to be their last points of the afternoon.
Eventually a smouldering Letchworth came to light. Howman's pass found Donald who moved the ball to Hett rampaging on his shoulder. Hett made good yardage before releasing Sterrenberg who went over in the corner. Donald's kick narrowly missed, fading to the left of the post.
Welwyn hit a post with another penalty, inexcusably from Letchworth back chat, and put on pressure from the resulting scrum before Donald cleared the lines on the stroke of half-time.
Letchworth braced themselves for an onslaught at the start of the second half but for the first five minutes, they were in the home side's half.
Once again the back row of Johal, Hett and Sterrenberg combined to set up an attacking position. The ball moved with swift hands through Liam Corcoran and Robinson to release Streets in the corner for an unconverted try.
Welwyn then had a 20-minute period of pressure but failed to achieve a score. Penalties were squandered as the visitors' defence stood firm despite the yellow carding of skipper Johal. In the monsoon-like conditions, Welwyn had given it everything but received scant reward.
Letchworth brought on veteran impact prop Darren Spillane who immediately made his mark with two searing runs. The second of these set up ball for Donald to chip through and the mercurial Robinson sprinted through to win the race for the touchdown.
The visitors now had this game by the scruff of the neck and continued to press the Welwyn line to the end. Spillane blotted his copybook by collecting another yellow but the game was as good as won.
Several other scores went begging and another try by Robinson was inexplicably disallowed.
Letchworth are home to promotion contenders Civil Service this Saturday and the West London bureaucrats could cop a surprise at Baldock Road.
Lunch prior to the game is 12.30pm, and all diners should call Brian Burke on 01462 422555.
* The second XV had a crushing win at Hitchin 30-10. Try scorers included Dan Bendon, Steve Harper, James Nye and Andy Atkinson.
The thirds lost at league leaders Saffron Walden 22-5, while the fourth XV match with Stevenage Town was cancelled.