Pictures by Mike Baker
RFU Midlands Junior Vase
Rugby Welsh 27 North Hykeham 17
Welsh continued their remarkable Midland Junior Vase run, securing a semi-final place with a hard-fought victory over a well-drilled North Hykeham oufit.
Despite the inclement pre-match weather and the attraction of the autumn internationals a good sized crowd, including many former players, came to Alwyn Road to encourage the team and they were not to be disappointed as Welsh began the game at a ferocious pace.
Having the benefit of the conditions in the first half Glenn Bond astutely kicked Welsh in to the opposition 22 and from the first lineout a catch and drive saw Pete Head crash over for a try which Bond converted excellently from the touchline. The forwards dominated the opening quarter with second row men Leigh Colledge and Jamie Roche making powerful runs and setting up attacking opportunities, whilst the scrummaging was particularly effective. Welsh were further ahead after ten minutes when a sniping midfield run from Angus Wilson and some interlinking passes in the backs enabled Adam Bond to crash over a wonderful unconverted try.
Welsh were now threatening to blow away their opposition and further forward domination culminated with Roche showing strong power to score a try, giving Welsh a 17-point lead after the first quarter.
North Hykeham then came back into the game and their forwards began to make some powerful runs. A feisty exchange saw the referee take firm action, with players from both sides being sinbinned after 25 minutes. However Welsh continued to enjoy territorial control but despite a series of 5 metre scrummages and penalty awards there were no further scores in the first half .
Welsh knew the game was far from over at half time as a further sinbinning had left them with 14 men and North Hykeham now had the benefit of the conditions. The home side defended well with winger Robin Tyreman having an outstanding game and Welsh got through a difficult period without conceding points. The Lincoln-based side were reduced to 14 men following a sending off but to their credit they kept working hard with their scrummage improving following a replacement at half time. They narrowed the gap with a converted try and a further penalty saw them only one score behind with 15 minutes left.
Welsh knew they had to dig deep and with the Bond brothers at the heart of the battle they refused to let their opposition dictate proceedings. Jack Taylor appeared to have secured victory with less than 10 minutes remaining, jinking his way over for a well-taken try. With Welsh then camped on the opposition line and having a try disallowed, North Hykeham counter-attacked and scored a length-of-the-pitch converted try with three minutes left. Nerves were now frayed but the home supporters encouraged the team to greater efforts and the deserved win was secured with the final play when, following forward drives, Adam Bond crashed over from short range for an unconverted try.
Welsh rightly celebrated their hard-fought victory against higher league opposition and are now the only side left from the county in the competition. The semi-final will be held on November 24 and please also look for details of the game on the club website www.rugbywelsh.org as hopefully even more supporters can support the team on their fantastic journey.