Welsh are League Champions after bonus point win
Celebrations at ODP, a birthday try for Gruffydd Williams and Ben Cullen signs off in style.
Nine tries by nine different players in front of the biggest crowd of the season confirmed London Welsh as league champions for the second successive season.
Welsh headed into the game knowing that a single league point would guarantee top spot but Cheshunt took the early initiative and in the opening it appeared that the home team may not have things all their own way. Cheshunt were awarded the first penalty of the game and put a kick into the corner of the pitch. London Welsh successfully smothered the attack and stole the ball to clear but from the lineout Cheshunt found space on the wing for their inside centre to run in the first try. The conversion was missed and with just four minutes on the clock Cheshunt had the lead.
This early surprise focussed Welsh minds with a determination to turn things around. A rampaging run by Tyron Pelasio from a lineout started a Welsh attack. The ball was recycled through the backs with the final pass from Club Captain Lloyd Davies putting Rhys Howellsthrough for his team’s first try. Lloyd Davies added the conversion to go 7-5 in front. A yellow card for Cheshunt’s full back 12 minutes into the game opened up space in the Cheshunt defence and Welsh were quick to exploit. Elis Staines took the penalty quickly and forced his way over to extend the lead by a further five points.
A series of penalties conceded in their own half gave the referee little option but to issue Welsh with a team warning and from the edge of the 22 Cheshunt slotted over a penalty to close the gap to just four points at the end of the first quarter. The two teams were closely matched from the restart and play remained centred around the middle of the pitch.
It wasn’t until the half hour mark that Welsh added the third try. David Gabegathered a loose ball and moved it out through his fellow backs to Christopher Lilly who breezed through the remaining Cheshunt defence. Lloyd Davies added the conversion. London Welsh now had the bonus point and Championship in their sights and pushed hard for the next try. Cheshunt were pinned in their own half but the try proved elusive and the half finished 19-8.
An extended half time break allowed the future stars of London Welsh to show off their skills with a minis game against neighbours London Scottish and a goal kicking challenge.
The current London Welsh stars took to the pitch again, attacked from the off and didn’t keep the crowd waiting long for the fourth try of the game. The ball was worked to the back of the ruck on Cheshunt’s 22m line and, on his last 1st XV appearance, hooker Ben Cullen launched a solo run to outpace the defence and claim the league title for his team. The conversion was missed but Welsh led 24-8 and were firmly in control of the game.
A penalty and yellow card against Michael Griffiths gave Cheshunt some breathing space and although Welsh had several opportunities it wasn’t until the end of the yellow card period that they added any more points. David Gabe ran almost half the length of the pitch to take play into Cheshunt’s 22 and repeated phases of attack eventually put Andrew Black over. Lloyd Daviesadded the extras with a little under twenty minutes of the half played.
A great penalty kick to touch, pin point accuracy in the lineout and a break by replacement scrum half Gruffydd Williams launched the next attack. Tyron Pelasio took up the charge but was adjudged to have been held up over the line. Welsh were solid in the resulting 5m scrum and the ball was moved out to Rhodri Dawes to score in the corner.
Welsh continued to attack at every opportunity and when Cheshunt brought the move to a halt just short of the line Tom Baldwin was waiting out wide to receive the ball and go over for the seventh try of the game and his second of the season. Cheshunt error led to the penultimate try. An overthrow at the lineout was poached by Gruffydd Williams who celebrated his 18th birthday with his third try in just three appearances.
Tyron Pelasio added the ninth and final try gathering a pass looped round to him by Lloyd Daviesbut, fittingly, the final word fell to Ben Cullen who finished his 1st XV career and brought the game to a close by kicking the conversion.
Full time: London Welsh 53 Cheshunt 8
Penderyn Distillery Man of the Match: Daniel Ginger
Celebrations started on and off the pitch to mark back to back promotions and with it the completion of the next step in the club’s five year plan but the season is not over yet and next Saturday we welcome Datchworth to ODP for the final league game. Datchworth are also promoted to London 2 North West and therefore it promises to be a day of fine rugby and celebration. The final match of the season will be on Saturday 13th April when London Welsh play Finsbury Park at ODP in the Middlesex Bowl Final. Both games will have 3pm kick offs.