London Welsh 26pts - Bedford 20pts
Old Deer Park, Saturday 9th March 2002
London Welsh were quick off the mark, scoring a try within two minutes of the kick off. Stealing a Bedford throw in, the Welsh backs moved the ball quickly to the right, where fullback Matt Vines joined the line to finish the move with blistering pace.
Richard Mahony converted for a 7-0 lead.
Mahony later added a 16th minute penalty to open up a 10-0 London Welsh lead, but as the half progressed Bedford began to display some of the form that had taken them to 5th in the League table. In the 33rd minute outside half Mark Meenan kicked a drop goal following a period of pressure near the Welsh line.
London Welsh hit back straight away when flanker Florent Rossigneux was driven over following good interplay between the Welsh backs and forwards. (15-3). Mahony then added another penalty in injury time to give London Welsh a half time lead of 18-3. Bedford were appearing frustrated at this stage and a number of physical skirmishes followed, none of them to do with the ball.
This led to Bedford prop Chris Horsman being dismissed within 5 minutes of the restart following a series of blows to his front row opponent.
London Welsh added a penalty through the boot of Mahony 21-3 before London Welsh produced a try following a determined drive from a lineout. Replacement hooker Gregg Botterman was credited with the touchdown. This took London Welsh to a 26-3 lead after 52 minutes, as home fans could anticipate a fourth try and bonus point from a tiring 14-man defence.
As so often, the 14 men rallied bravely, and following turnovers from London Welsh attacks, clawed their way back into the match.
Firstly, flanker Fred Fichot was put over in the 67th minute, then Mark Meenan finished off a spirited attack in the 74th minute to bring the score to 26-13.
London Welsh minds were focussed more sharply after replacement wing James Hinkins sped over in the final minutes of normal time for a try, converted by Meenan which left the Visitors only 6 points adrift.
To their credit, London Welsh still went in search of the elusive fourth try, and Vines did cross the line to finish a good move. Sadly for the Welsh, a pass was adjudged forward, so the score did not count, as the final whistle ended a fierce but enjoyable contest. Enjoyable, that is, from the safety of the stand.
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Wales U20 face a tough group in the Junior World Championship with France, England and Japan lying in wait but Attack coach Jason Strange and back rower Tom Phillips are looking forward to the campaign ahead.
Angus O'Brien has quickly settled into the Wales Sevens squad after solid performances in Hong Kong and Japan. With two rounds remaining in Glasgow and Twickenham on the World Series, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie chats to the rising star.
Wales winger Luke Morgan has established himself as one of the deadliest finishers on the Sevens World Series. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie catches up with him on the eve of this weekend's round in Glasgow.
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.