Hampstead pull off a gutsy victory at lowly Welwyn to remain in promotion battle

Hampstead celebrating their victory over Welwyn on the weekend (Pic: Jon Boyle)

Hampstead celebrating their victory over Welwyn on the weekend (Pic: Jon Boyle) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead won a physical encounter with a gutsy Welwyn side on Saturday, edging a tight 17-18 away win despite missing some key players.

Welwyn V Hampstead - James Tann in action for Welwyn.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Welwyn V Hampstead - James Tann in action for Welwyn. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

The visitors looked on track to record a regulation win against a side they beat 38-0 earlier in the season when they took the lead with just four minutes on the clock.

Welwyn fluffed their kick-off and Hampstead attacked off the resultant scrum, winning a penalty after some strong approach play which was kicked to touch.

From a driving maul Hampstead spread the ball wide to allow wing Seb Stacey to go over in the corner.

Ten minutes later, however, Welwyn were level from a well worked long throw in saw the maroon-and-whites of Welwyn surge towards the Hampstead line, and off the back of a five-metre scrum Welwyn went over in the corner.

Then with the half reaching its mid-way point Welwyn scored again.

Retaining possession well the home side battered the Hampstead line, eventually going over on the opposite wing to their opening score after a cute inside pass found a runner at speed.

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Hampstead responded with a score of their own 10 minutes later. Held up despite crossing the line under the posts, the visitors opted for a scrum after a string of Welwyn infringements, switching the ball to the wing for Stacey to score his second of the afternoon.

With neither kicker having any joy from the tee, the two sides turned around even at half-time 10-10.

Hampstead nosed themselves in front early in the second half when fly-half Ben Nichols converted an easy penalty kick in front of the posts.

The North Londoners then enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure and, when a clearance kick by Welwyn fell to full-back Alex Brooks, the ball moved quickly to outside centre Pete Bicknell who raced through from the halfway line to score in the corner.

Hampstead were again pinned back when Welwyn scored a converted try less than four minutes later, leaving the visitors with a slender one point advantage.

Hampstead managed to hang on, however, securing a four-point win at a venue where they have often come to grief in recent years.

Head Coach Peter Breen said: "We struggled for consistency and confidence all game. Denied a cluster of star players, and subject to a most bizarre refereeing display, the players were unsure of what to do and when.

"On the rare occasions they were actually allowed to play rugby they looked fabulous."

He added: "Fortunately some incredible tackling by the entire team managed to keep the home side away from the try line. In the circumstances it was a great result."

On Saturday Hampstead take on sixth-placed Hemel Hempstead.

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