Wanderers Grind Out Victory
“Both sides will reflect on missed opportunities” commented Martyn Fowler “We had chances to put the game out of reach and Rhiwbina had chances to take all the points”
“We were under pressure for much of the second half, but the boys dug deep and got the win” added Grandad Lyons
On a grey afternoon, the Wanderers wearing the red change kit for the first time this season, were out of the blocks the quickest. Retaining the ball well they used the full width of the field as they looked to penetrate a solid Rhiwbina defence, but the Squirrels were well organised and kept the home side at bay. The Wanderers were awarded a lineout on the visitors 22 and a more ‘route one’ approach was adopted. Driving the lineout forward the Rhiwbina defence struggled to stop the juggernaut and Lee Highgate was the last recipient of the ball as the maul crashed over the line for the first try 5-0. The Squirrels seemed content to kick the ball away from their early possessions giving the Wanderers plenty of opportunity and from one counter attack a second try nearly came. Both forwards and backs were in on the action and when Joe Russell stayed on his feet allowing his pack to form another driving maul it seemed a try was inevitable. Rhiwbina were forced into collapsing the maul on their line and the referee must have considered a penalty try but giving the visitors the benefit of the doubt he awarded the home side a penalty. Declining the three points the Wanderers went for the catch and drive again and a superb cut out pass by Myles Churcher across the face of the pack and the defence put Josh Male into a space and he crashed over. Rob Evans converted 12-0. The Squirrels finally started to get the game into gear and when they stopped kicking the ball they looked dangerous. An attack out wide left penetrated the Wanderers defence and some good handling nearly resulted in their first try but the scramble defence eventually prevented the score. The attack lifted the visitor’s spirits and before long they were on the scoresheet. From a scrum they moved the ball wide and once again they found plenty of space as the left wing raced over to score 12-5. The game picked up and both sides were making the contact area a real contest. Turnovers became frequent but as the game ebbed and flowed both ways neither side could find a telling pass to break the defences down. As the half neared its close the Wanderers had a chance to extend their lead. A break from a lineout by Evans split the defence and he chipped ahead for Phil Pariyo to chase. The ball held up just short of the try line and as Pariyo tried to gather he agonisingly knocked the ball on with the line at his mercy. From the scrum Rhiwbina executed their exit well and the sides went into the break with the score at 12-5.
The visitors began the half brightly, clearly now intent on keeping the ball in hand, they put the Wanderers under pressure. The Squirrels continued to gain ground out wide and the home side started to look vulnerable to the attacks. A penalty for not releasing in the tackle narrowed the scores to 12-8 and it was all to play for. The home side looked for the killer blow but chances came and went. Aaron Fowler went close after a sneaky break through a ruck but he was held up and then Rob Evans also went close but once again the stern Squirrels defence kept them in the game. The home side called for the cavalry in order to bring fresh impetus but Rhiwbina stuck to their task. The Squirrels had a chance to take the lead when, after another break out wide, they recycled well. The try line beckoned with what appeared to be a 4 man overlap but their kicking disease returned and an attempted cross kick went into touch. The Wanderers responded and when Haval Ibrahim went on a little trundle a penalty at the ruck allowed Luke Fish, on as a sub, a chance to extend the lead which he did 15-8. Rhiwbina still had a glimmer of success and as the game broke up their backs searched for more chances. A turnover in midfield provided the spark and with the Wanderers defence out on its feet the Squirrels raced away to put the game back in the balance at 15-13. The last few minutes were as ferocious as the early exchanges with both sides giving no quarter in attack and defence. Ibrahim nearly put the game out of reach when he went close but the visitors defence once again held on. The game was there to be won but neither side could find the crucial play to make the difference and the game ended with a relieved Wanderers taking the points.
Tries: Lee Highgate, Josh Male
Cons: Rob Evans
Pen: Luke Fish
Massiv man of the match: Lee Highgate Special mention: Aaron Fowler