On a bright afternoon in North London.....
Over 100 of the London Welsh travelled to support the 1st XV at the Old Merchant Tailors School grounds.
Basking in the afternoon sunlight on a splendid veranda overlooking the tennis courts, the supporting team enjoyed the home clubs hospitality but in low voices one could hear their nerves and a little apprehension. The opposition had won impressively in the last few weeks, just a few points behind Old Street and The Welsh.
The game kicked off a few minutes late, the referee clearly expecting difficult underfoot conditions and to cover a lot of miles in his 'Daps' , rather than the more traditional winter foot ware of studded boots. It was the Welsh that quickly conceded their first penalty of the afternoon, a very kickable position that put the home team 3 points up in the first 4 minutes.
The nerves of the Welsh Supporters bedecked in their RED hats, scarves and shirts not settled in the slightest by this early set back. The players however looked calm and assured. They seemed to have that air of confidence in their eyes, telegraphing they were not here to have a difficult afternoon.
Welsh were playing into the low sun which made the high ball very difficult and those long touch kicks tricky to execute.
However it was a Rhodri Dawes touch line kick at around the 10 minute that placed Welsh close to the OMT line. The subsequent catch and drive saw Andrew May go over for a try which Rhodri Dawes converted.
After the restart, more pressure from the Welsh saw most of the next 5 minutes spent in the OMT half. A super tackle by Rhys Howell gaining a great turn over which finally lead to the ball being put into touch on the OMT 22m. From the line out an infringement lead to a penalty which Rhodri Dawes took with ease, making the score OMT 3 : 10 London Welsh.
More pressure from a very controlled Welsh pack saw Tom Baldwin take clean ball of the top which came out to David Gabe who made a break before gracefully laying the ball off to Andrew Black, playing at 8 for the first time. Black barnstorming run putting the Welsh on the OMT line. With Cai Griffiths urging his men for more, the men in the scarlet shirts drove over the line but the referee's judgement was that the ball was held up .
The 1st half continued as a powerful and balanced game, the Welsh organised in defence and dangerous in attack. At 40mins the scores finely set at OMT 3 : 10 London Welsh
The 2nd period started brightly with Fred White going over in the corner after the ball was moved quickly along the line. The Welsh tally now 15 points
With the Welsh again putting pressure on OMT forcing errors, a terrifically powerful Welsh clearly out of the ruck saw the ball back in David Gabe's hands at 10. As he attacked space, a gap opened and David Gabe glided through for a try under the posts with a back drop of GABE, GABE, GABE muttered by the increasing happy Welsh supporter. OMT 3 : 20 Welsh.
More changes to personal sees Cai Griffiths off and Morgan Browne on, this necessitated a shuffle in the pack with Andrew Black going into the 2nd row, Ty Pelasio moving to 8 and Browne taking up a position on the flank where he could be at his most destructive, causing chaos amongst the old merchant tailor back line.
Minutes later Andrew Black was over for a try, London Welsh now taking full control of match proceedings.
More pressure and points were to come. Ty Pelasio was the next to cross the OMT try line, the points now ensuring the game was won and a bonus point registered.
The last piece of class was to come after the 80th minute of the game. A beautiful chip through so Iwan Bowen Rees scampering after the ball and getting his hands onto the ball before it went dead, try two for the replacement 9. A final conversion from Rhodri Dawes made the final score Old Merchant Tailor's 3 : 39 London Welsh