Second place is up for grabs
Welwyn 18 Stevenage Town 19 Stevenage Town blew the race for promotion wide open with this dramatic derby victory. The sides are now level on points behind leaders Ruislip in the London Three North West. Welwyn grabbed the initiative when the ball bobbled
Welwyn 18 Stevenage Town 19
Stevenage Town blew the race for promotion wide open with this dramatic derby victory.
The sides are now level on points behind leaders Ruislip in the London Three North West.
Welwyn grabbed the initiative when the ball bobbled kindly into the hands of their rotund prop and he rumbled over the try line.
A hallmark of the game was Town's muscular pack overpowering their Welwyn opponents.
This pressure allowed their backline the space they needed, and a good switch move gave Gareth Lewis the chance to find space and set the electrifying Kris Foskett loose on the wing.
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A sweet sidestep saw Foskett cruise over the line for their first points of the day, Lewis landing the kick.
Welwyn exploited excellent field position when a rare lapse in defence left a hole in the fringe of the ruck and allowed them to cross the gain line and spread the ball wide for their second try. The conversion was again missed.
Stevenage's response was swift as a lineout move straight from the training ground released Gareth Roberts down the touchline.
Roberts, the league's leading try scorer, powered his way through the Welwyn pack and had the tenacity to take the winger on the outside and outstrip him for pace and power to cross in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed.
Welwyn then produced a well-executed backs move which resulted in an overlap and their winger crossed in the corner.
The conversion was again missed as Welwyn led 15-12 at the break.
Stevenage spent the third quarter of the game camped on their own try line but their defence was solid.
The defensive prowess was typified by a try-saving tackle from scrum-half Ian Crompton, dumping the Welwyn number eight in touch only two yards out.
Welwyn managed a penalty kick in front of the posts to give them a six-point lead.
Stevenage upped their game and started to put Welwyn under the cosh.
A turnover allowed Welwyn to cut loose, only to be hauled down short of the Stevenage line by tackles from Peter Smith and Iain Penny as their winger squandered an overlap.
With minutes remaining on the clock, a clearance kick was run back at the Welwyn defence.
Lewis found the space he needed to cut free and release a slick pass back inside to Roberts.
He glided past the remaining defenders to score close to the posts and bring Town to within a single point.
Lewis slotted the kick with consummate ease and snatch the lead with just minutes left on the clock.
Welwyn threw everything forward in the dying moments of the game but Town's defence remained impenetrable.
Stags coach Terry Penny said: "It was a heroic performance by the whole side and we took the loss at our ground and the personal words said, as extra incentive to gain the victory.
"Everything that has happened previously makes this victory all the more satisfying and justified.
"A few demons were put to rest, and points were proven."
Stevenage host local rivals Datchworth this Saturday in the beginning to a mouth-watering climax to the league season.