Pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands 5 West (South)
Rugby Welsh 18 Birmingham Exiles 21
Another close encounter between these two sides saw Exiles clinch promotion and dent Welsh hopes of finishing in the promotion spots.
In front of a good sized VPs crowd and the visiting Warwickshire RFU President, Welsh shocked the league leaders with a well worked try in the opening minute.
From a midfield scrum the Bond brothers combined to give space for winger Anthony Reynolds to race in unopposed for an unconverted try. Exiles responded quickly and it was immediately obvious that their lively three-quarter line would cause problems. Welsh defended well but after 15 minutes Exiles levelled the scores with a well taken try in the corner.
Neither side would give an inch with the forward battle being intense and both sides putting some huge hits in midfield. Both sides became frustrated at the lack of flow in the game and tensions rose as sinbinnings took place for each team.
Welsh retook the lead when the ever-impressive Loz Galleno and Leigh Colledge made powerful runs and created a penalty which Glenn Bond converted to give the home side a 8-5 half time lead.
Exiles began the second half well and another unfortunate Welsh sinbinning gave them the opportunity to level the scores with a penalty. Welsh became increasingly frustrated and Exiles took advantage of the situation. Their lively centre then dummied the Welsh defence on a couple of occasions and gave a try scoring pass to his winger. Shortly afterwards with Welsh still down to 14 men Exiles appeared in control with another well taken try in the corner.
Welsh were then further disrupted by a head injury to the influential Galleno on the hour mark but their heads did not drop and their forwards began to dominate the set pieces to deny Exiles possession.
From a five metre lineout scrum half Jay Ellerington showed great strength sniping through a couple of tackles to score an unconverted try. Although Exiles responded with a penalty, Welsh came back again and the Bond brothers along with Jack Taylor created another opportunity for the ever-reliable Anthony Reynolds to score his second try in the corner.
However, despite their efforts Welsh were not able to complete the fightback and had to settle for their losing bonus point.
Welsh congratulate Exiles on their deserved promotion but there is still plenty to play for as this Saturday they travel to Birmingham Civil Service.