Rugby Union
Welsh battle hard in defeat against the leaders

By Jamie Arrowsmith Monday 18 February 2013 Updated: 20/02 17:29

Rugby Welsh 7 Stoke Old Boys 29

Midlands Five West (South)

THE battling effort given by Welsh against their top of the table opponents was not reflected in the final scoreline on Saturday.

Naturally, given their lofty position, Stoke began the game in confident mood with their large pack and lively backs quickly beginning to put pressure on the home side.

It appeared Welsh were in for a long afternoon when Stoke opened up a 12-point lead in as many minutes thanks to two tries - one of which was converted - but the hosts gradually began to work their way back into the contest.

Many observers felt the wet conditions would have suited Stoke's large pack well but Welsh more than matched their opponents in the forward exchanges.

The front row of Taylor, Allen and Richards were excellent in the scrum with Roach and Corrigan winning plenty of line-out possession.

Higham tackled well throughout on the flank whilst Jamie Cranham gave his usual energetic performance at scrum half, causing many problems for his younger opponent.

Welsh's midfield began to nullify Stoke with Gray and Bond at the forefront of the action and although the Coventry side led 15-0 at half time following another penalty, the opening 20 minutes of the second half saw the hosts dominate territory.

Their efforts were rewarded when, following a catch and drive close to the line, Ollie Taylor crashed over for a well taken try, Matty Gray converted.

Stoke became more undisciplined and their scrum half was sent to the sin bin but that did not stop them extending their lead when their powerful number eight crashed over from a five-yard scrum. The try was converted and a bonus point score soon followed after a strong drive close to the line.

Despite the defeat there were plenty of positives for Welsh to take out of the performance and they will look to carry these forward when entertaining Newbold 2nds in the Clonmell Cup on Saturday (2.15pm). It is the club's Vice President's Day with all VPs welcome at the Black Horse from 12.30pm for a buffet lunch.

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