Wanderers edge through in thriller
“A great sense of relief at the end of that one” commented Manager John Lyons “A cracking game, a true cup tie with passion and commitment from both sides. Unfortunately, there has to be a winner and we are through to the last 16 of the Plate. It makes the long journey home much happier!”
On a grey afternoon in Aberystwyth the game exploded into life from the off. After kicking off the home side backs received a kick from Myles Churcher and they showed their intent straight away. Moving the ball through the hands they stretched the defence and went through the phases. The Wanderers tacklers may still have been on the bus as they were powerless to stop Aberystwyth from opening the scoring with a converted try 7-0. It was a good wake up for the visitors because they struck right back. A penalty gave them good field position and the powerful Wanderers 8 went on a trundle towards the line. The home side defence halted the drive but Luke Fish released his backs and Cameron Gibbon sliced through to score. Fish converted 7-7. The crowd were still settling into their viewing positions when Aberystwyth took the lead again. The Wanderers went on another trundle from a lineout and took play deep in Aber territory. As the home side back peddled a superb rip from the Aberystwyth outside half took the ball from Joe Russell and he found himself with open space. Showing great pace, he raced away to score from 70 metres to make it 14-7. The frenetic pace of the game did not let up and the Wanderers once again responded well. A Fish cross kick was gathered by Phillip Pariyo, he kicked ahead over the defence and had the pace to follow up his own kick and gather again just before the line for the visitors second try. Fish missed the conversion 14-12. Everyone took a breath and the game settled. The styles were clearly different with the home side looking for width and a high tempo game and the Wanderers preferring the power of the pack. The game ebbed and flowed with no quarter given in a real cup tie. Fish put the Wanderers ahead with a penalty to make it 14-15 but Aberystwyth once again put the visitors under pressure. After a series of offside decisions, they landed a penalty of their own to make it 17-15 and then a second penalty extended that lead to 20-15, as the half went into injury time. The Wanderers did well from the ensuing kick-off and after gaining another good field position a knock on by the defence gave them a scrum in front of the posts. The scrum yielded a penalty and Fish slotted over the easy kick to send the sides into the break at 20-18.
The home side had an early penalty chance to extend their lead, but the kick went just wide. Both sides continued to create chances, but the cold conditions and heavy pitch made fluent play difficult. The Wanderers surged ahead with their third try after another well executed catch and drive from the lineout which saw Aaron Fowler emerge from a pile of bodies with the ball, as the maul crashed over the line. Fish superbly landed the conversion from the touchline and the visitors were ahead 20-25. Both sides started to ring the changes and the game seemed to be going the Wanderers way when an offside decision gave Fish his third penalty to make it 20-28. There was still plenty of time to go in the game and when Fish had another chance the game could have been over, but his shot went just wide. The home side stepped up their game and they still sensed a chance of the win as the game entered its last quarter. After driving for the line, they were held up just short but the pressure was all on the Wanderers now. As the penalty count mounted against the Wanderers Rob Lewis saw yellow and with a winger withdrawn the home side took their chance. Moving the ball blind from a scrum they crossed out wide to put the game back in the balance at 25-28. The clock ticked down and after some more dogged defence from the visitors they seemed to have relieved the pressure when a series of penalties allowed them to take play deep into Aberystwyth territory. It seemed that they could close out the win, but a penalty conceded at a lineout in Aber territory gave the home side a last chance. Running from deep they were awarded another penalty. After two more penalties they established one last attack in Wanderers territory. The defence became more and more frantic as they pounded the visitors line and they were awarded a final penalty in kickable range. Some confusion arose as to what would happen if the kick went over but with the final cruel act the ball went wide and left the Wanderers with a narrow win 25-28.
Tries: Cameron Gibbon. Phillip Pariyo, Aaron Fowler
Cons: Luke Fish (2)
Pens: Luke Fish (3)
Massiv man of the match: Aaron Fowler