- London Welsh record memorable victory in RFU Championship Final
- Alex Davies scores 19 points to secure 66-41 aggregate victory
Photo: Getty Images
London Welsh rose to the occasion and claimed victory over a spirited Cornish Pirates side to win the RFU Championship Final at the Kassam Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Tries from Hudson Tonga’uiha and Jack Moates to go with 19 points from the boot of Alex Davies gave Welsh a 29-20 victory on a night which will live long in the Exile’s memory.
As expected, Pirates came out all-guns-blazing with a 16-point deficit to reduce, fly-half Aaron Penberthy striking a brilliant drop goal from 40 yards to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
That lead was short lived however as, just two minutes later, an infringement at the scrum allowed Davies to put Welsh back level at 3 a-piece.
Quick point-scoring continued and it was Pirates who again took the lead when Rob Cook’s penalty sailed through the posts with 10 minutes gone.
The home side struck back straight away, again through a Davies penalty and, with the title up for grabs, both team were keen to take their chances.
The first try of the game came in dramatic circumstances as Rob Cook chased a loose ball down inside his own 22, making 25 yards before chipping ahead to Matt Evans on the wing who crossed in the corner. Cook added the extras to take Pirates ahead 13-6.
Pirates had the opportunity to extend their lead further when open-side flanker Phil Burgess grabbed turnover ball before storming towards the Welsh try-line from 40 yards out. Only a joint effort from James Lewis and Davies stopped the flanker in his tracks.
A missed penalty from Alex Davies at the stroke of half time left Pirates ahead 13-6 at the break, but with Welsh leading by nine points on aggregate.
Davies had a chance to put his missed penalty right straight after the interval, and when his 40 yard kick went over, Welsh had 12 points breathing space in the tie.
In no time at all, Davies was lining up again in front of the posts and after a lengthy consultation with the television match official, David Rose awarded the three points.
The full back, on top form, continued to add to the Exiles’ aggregate lead with a fourth successful kick from five, after Pirates conceded another infringement.
The RFU Championship trophy was secured for the Welsh on the 69th minute when Hudson Tonga’uiha picked up the ball 40 metres out, beat two defenders and charged for the line, to plant the ball down between the posts. Davies added the extras and Welsh were home and dry with an unassailable 25-point lead.
Pirates did rally with their second try of the night through Ryan Storer, to bring them within two points at 22-20, but when Welsh's Jack Moates scored in the corner in what would be the last play of the game, the celebrations began.
London Welsh: 15. Alex Davies, 14. Joe Ajuwa, 13. James Lewis (22. Jewell), 12. Hudson Tonga’uiha, 11. Nick Scott, 10. Gordon Ross, 9. Rob Lewis; 1. Max Lahiff, 2. Dan George, (16. Ma’asi) 3. James Tideswell (18. Bateman), 4. Jon Mills (capt), 5. Matt Corker, 6. Lee Beach, 7. Mike Denbee, 8. Ed Jackson.
Replacements: 16. Vili Ma’asi, 17. Billy Moss, 18. Greg Bateman, 19. Martin Purdy, 20. Ben Russell, 21. Jack Moates, 22. Seb Jewell.
Tries: Hudson Tonga’uiha, Jack Moates
Conversions: Alex Davies (2)
Penalties: Alex Davies (5)
Cornish Pirates: 15. Rob Cook, 14. Matt Evans, 13. Grant Pointer, 12. Andrew Suniula, (21. Cooper) 11. David Doherty, 10. Aaron Penberthy, 9. Gavin Cattle (capt) (20. Kessell); 1. Carl Rimmer (16. Storer). 2. Dave Ward, 3. Alan Paver, 4. Laurie McGlone, 5. Ian Nimmo, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Phil Burgess, 8. Ben Maidment.
Replacements: 16. Ryan Storer, 17. Rob Elloway, 18. Mike Myerscough, 19. Kyle Marriott, 20. Tom Kessell, 21. Tom Cooper, 22. Rhodri McAtee.
Tries: Matt Evans, Ryan Storer
Conversions: Rob Cook (2)
Penalties: Rob Cook (1)
Drop Goals: Aaron Penberthy (1)
Referee: Dave Rose (RFU)