Second half revival sees Wanderers through in Mallett
“We knew it would be tough and it took some stern talking (with plenty of expletives) at half time to galvanise us into action. All credit to Llanishen they were well organised, with some talented youngsters, who posed us plenty of problems throughout” commented Lee Highgate after the Wanderers progressed through to the Mallett cup semi-final.
On a chilly night at the Memorial Ground it was the visitors who started the better. Going through the phases they probed and tested the defence and retained the ball well. The Wanderers were forced into some desperate scrambling and it was no surprise when a penalty at a ruck resulted the Llanishen taking the lead with a penalty 0-3. The home side responded and Josh Male made a break from deep to take play deep into the visitors’ territory. For the first time Llanishen came under pressure and when Tom Mabley charged down a clearance kick the Wanderers pounced. James Loxton, playing at outside half, recovered the ball and sent it wide. Ian Newbury went close and when held his inside ball found Jacob La-Roche who crossed for the first try. Loxton converted 7-3. Back came the visitors and the game ebbed and flowed with both sides going through attacks of several phases with little reward but it was the visitors backs who looked the most dangerous. From an up and under they recovered the ball and once again showed good ball retention before gaining a penalty to reduce the arrears to 7-6. Llanishen sensed their chance to cause an upset and for the rest of the half they dominated proceedings. The Wanderers were reduced to extended tackling practice as they tried to contain the visitors and from a scrum deep in the home side 22 Llanishen took their chance. A neat cut back from the centres sliced the defence and they crossed under the posts. The conversion made it 7-13. The home side were hanging on and praying for the half time whistle. With the half in injury time they did have a chance but spurning an overlap of at least 4 players some white line fever took a grip and the chance went begging. Half time 7-13.
The half time talk from the Wanderers coaches would not be for the faint hearted but it clearly had the desired effect. The big Wanderers pack started to make their presence felt at set pieces and before long they were ahead. From some close quarter driving scrum half Myles Churcher spotted a gap and he burst over the line for the home side 2nd try. Loxton converted 14-13. That lead was soon extended. From a deep kick from the visitors full back Andy Evans set up a superb counter attack. He broke through and Loxton was on hand to carry on the attack. A superb out of the back-door offload to Tom Penry Ellis put the backrow man on a gallop to the line and he crossed for the Wanderers third try. Loxton converted 21-13. With a little daylight the home side called for the cavalry in the not inconsiderable bulk of Charlie Johnson and the 10-stone wringing wet combination of Morgan Louch and Gabriel Callard. Llanishen were not in the game to roll over though and once again their backs showed a cutting edge. A third penalty making it 21-16 kept them in touch. The game entered its final quarter and the new Wanderers halfbacks showed a maturity beyond their years as they marshalled the team into Llanishen territory. More forward pressure resulted and Callard set his backs free. La-Roche straightened the line and Will Adams Jones superbly finished the move squeezing over in the corner, 26-16. The visitors were left to chase the game and it was put beyond doubt when Josh Male was rewarded for all his hard work when he crossed for the final try of the night. Final score 31-16.
Tries: Jacob La-Roche, Josh Male, Myles Churcher, Tom Penry Ellis, Will Adams Jones
Cons: James Loxton (3)
Massiv man of the match: Rob Weston