HOCKEY: Stevenage fall to Welwyn as Maroons gain cup revenge after losing out last season
PUBLISHED: 15:17 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:17 22 January 2018
Welwyn gained revenge for defeat in last year's final by beating Stevenage Town 10-3 in the quarter-final of the Herts Presidents' Tankard.
They also defied the elements, with sleet and freezing conditions enveloping Hobbs Way, and the hardy spectators who ventured out of the warm clubhouse were treated to a match of considerable skill by both teams.
It was effectively decided by an opportunistic try by Welwyn’s vice-captain Adam Harcourt late in the first half.
Stevenage dominated the first 10 minutes but then honours were reasonably even for the remainder of the half.
The turning point of the match came on the half-hour. A crunching tackle by centre Aaron Chandler gave Harcourt the opportunity to rip the ball and sprint down the right touchline to score from 75 metres out.
His brother Rory converted beautifully from close to the right-hand touchline for a 7-0 lead.
He had another kick three minutes later which fell just short but soon afterwards another penalty, this time from slightly closer, was converted to extend Welwyn’s lead.
On the stroke of half time, Stevenage’s centre Gareth Lewis narrowed the gap to 10-3 with a relatively straight-forward penalty opportunity.
The second half started worryingly for Welwyn when Josh Milton was yellow-carded for coming in at the side of a maul and a minute later Ash Dobney followed him to the bin having been found guilty of collapsing a maul.
Down to 13 men they spent the rest of the period stuck inside their own 22 but the fact that Stevenage were unable to press home their numerical advantage during this period speaks volumes for the quality of Welwyn’s defence and improved fitness levels.
Centres Ben Osgood and Chandler in particular were outstanding in defence.
From then on opportunities were few and far between for both sides and Welwyn managed to hang on to their slender lead until the final whistle.
Their fate in the last four will be decided after the rest of the fixtures on February 10.
It’s back to league action for the second-placed Maroons on Saturday with a potentially season-defining game, at home to the club sitting directly above them, Grasshoppers.