Four tries for David Gabe, two by Elis Staines and a perfect start to Gruffydd Williams’ debut guarantees a top two finish.
London Welsh took the field knowing that a bonus point win would, at the very least, make promotion all but certain and could, if the result at Harrow went the right way, even confirm the back to back promotions.
Old Merchant Taylors’ kicked off and Welsh, playing into a strong wind. were unable to clear from their 22. OMT were awarded a penalty from the lineout but the kick at goal failed to gain enough height and drifted under the crossbar. The visitors thought they were clear for another try a few minutes later when they intercepted a loose pass only to be called back for a Welsh penalty in front of the posts. Opting for a scrum instead of the kick, Elis Staines gathered the ball and forced his way over for the first points of the game. Jonathan Williams conversion bounced off the upright to leave Welsh 5-0 up after eight minutes.
Welsh handling errors brought further chances to an end but they broke through again on the 20 minute mark. Alex Laybourne’s clean lineout take set the pack up for a drive to the centre of the pitch where OMT conceded a penalty. With the scrum dominant the set piece was opted for again and patient play moved the ball out to team captain Lloyd Davies who was waiting out on the wing, increasing the score to 10-0.
The next try followed just four minutes later with Christopher Lilly making the break and feeding the final pass to David Gabe who went over for his 15th try of the season the first of his four in the game. Elis Staines scored the third try in the 30th minute of the game. Ben Cullen was stopped just short of the line and Staines was on hand to pick up and claim the bonus point. Jonathan Williams added the conversion.
London Welsh continued to have the majority of the possession and were firmly in control. The referee signalled penalty advantage when OMT went offside to try and disrupt the Welsh maul but the advantage wasn’t needed and the ball was moved out to David Gabe for the fifth and final try of the half.
Half time London Welsh 27 Old Merchant Taylors’ 0
Just two minutes of the second half had elapsed when the home team scored their next try. Welsh made it look very easy, moving the ball down the line as if in a training exercise to put David Gabe through for his hattrick. Jonathan Williams added the extra two points.
Old Merchant Taylors’ were struggling to get out of their half for any length of time. Marc Weircame close to a score but was stopped short as was Lloyd Davies not long after. The game lost some of its tempo for a while and it wasn’t until midpoint of the half that the next score came. OMT were awarded a scrum in their own 22 and the break in play was used for Dan Jones and Gruffydd Williams to replace Cai Griffiths and Elis Staines respectively. Welsh took the scrum against the head, Gruffydd Williams picked up the ball at the back of the scrum and passed to Dan Ginger sending the number 8 on his way towards the line. The replacement scrum half followed in support and received the ball back to outpace the defence and score a try within 20 seconds of his 1st XV debut. Jonathan Williams’ conversion took the score to 41-0 as news came through that Harrow had defeated Streetonians meaning that London Welsh were promoted from London 3 North West.
OMT scored their only points of the game when they turned over the ball in their own 22 and their full back ran almost the length of the field for the try. From the restart they continued to try and run the ball where possible and but couldn’t break through again despite all their efforts.
A good run through the centre set up a pass to Mark Weir who took the ball at full speed to score under the posts and David Gabe scored his fourth try, the ninth tof the game, to take Welsh past 50 points. Jonathan Williams converted both of the final two tries.
The full time whistle signalled the start of promotion celebrations but attention will soon move on to ensuring that the 1st XV go up as league champions.
Penderyn Distillery London Welsh Man of the Match: Michael Griffiths
Match Sponsors: Sphonic
The 1st XV travel to Verulamians for the next round of the league on 23rd March with the next home game against Cheshunt on 30th March.