Harpenden succumb to second-half Welwyn onslaught

Harpenden spread the ball

Harpenden spread the ball - Credit: Archant

Harpenden Rugby Club were left to lick their wounds as they slumped to a 48-9 defeat away to Welwyn.

Their cause was not helped when they travelled with just a bare 15 and it was dealt a further blow when they received a yellow card after just three minutes.

Nevertheless, they turned round at the break just 17-9 in arrears, the score reflecting in part the visitor’s resilience when, for a while, they went down to 13 men against an in-form team.

In the end though there was no stopping the constant pressure and the second half produced five further tries.

Playing downhill to begin, there were signs that Harpenden might be able to at least snatch a point.

It was true that Welwyn had the upper hand when Ben Solez scored their first try but one-way traffic it wasn’t.

In fact, Harpenden’s Tom Sweeney kept his team in the hunt with three well-struck penalties.

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Welwyn’s Adam Harcourt got their second try after Sweeney’s second punt had put his team temporarily into the lead by 6-5 on 32 minutes.

The killer blow came just before half time when Harpenden were caught napping near their line, after a penalty award following a scrum, and conceded a soft score in the left corner to Karl Smith.

This time Phil Grehan made no mistake with the conversion.

The handing out of a second yellow card to Harpenden effectively ceded the game to Welwyn who after the break were now using their sloping pitch and the wind to great advantage.

Although not altogether laying down their arms in defeat, scum-half Fred Gulliford, for example, was noticeable for his great defence, the numerical superiority of Welwyn was convincing.

As so often happens in sport, once the psychological barrier has been breached anything can happen and, it did. Five further tries were scored courtesy of Rory Harcourt, Harry Gillespie, Adam Harcourt’s second, Rob Picken and Will Freeston making eight in all - the biggest margin of defeat for Harpenden in a very long time.

Harpenden’s next match is against Tabard at home on February 13.