Wanderers scrape through in Plate
MOUNTAIN ASH 3
“A real old-fashioned cup tie, massive on passion, guts and effort but probably a little low on skill from both sides” commented coach Lee Highgate “We fought a rear-guard action for most of the game but restricted the Old Firm to scoring opportunities and took the chances when presented with them. The effort we put in in those last minutes to keep them out is a credit to the spirit that exists amongst the players.”
On a grey afternoon with a cold wind blowing from one end to the other the home side had first use of the elements and it was clear from the off that this was going to be a very different encounter to the first time our sides met this season. The Old firm forwards tore into the Wanderers pack and from the outset the visitors were on the back foot. Struggling to get real possession and find any continuity the Wanderers were forced to live off scraps of ball. The home side racked up the phases in attack, but they were confronted by a solid wall of tacklers where Max Wootten put in numerous tackles on his first start for 5 months. Time and time again Mountain Ash made inroads only to be thwarted by a dropped ball or poor attacking decision, but they were certainly in the ascendancy. Occasionally the Wanderers tried to move the ball wide but in the cold conditions handling was poor and the game moved from scrum to scrum with neither side able to create a real try scoring opportunity. As the half progressed the home side got closer and closer and when Charlie Johnson was penalised on the Wanderers line he saw yellow and the defensive effort became more and more difficult. Despite the man advantage the Old Firm could not put in that killer pass and with Rob Lewis and Cameron Gibbon putting in massive shifts in the defensive line attack after attack was repelled. With the Wanderers back up to full strength the pressure continued but the visitors seemed to have the attacks under control and they managed, at the end of the half, to string some phases together as they were happy to see the half end with the scores at 0-0.
With the elements in their favour the Wanderers faithful hoped that the tide could be turned and the half began more brightly for the visitors. With the wind on his back Luke Fish was able to pin the home side back in their half making their drive for an opening score more difficult. The game became littered with more penalties against both sides as the effort from both teams wasn’t quite backed up with any real skill. From one penalty at a ruck Fish finally broke the deadlock with a 30 metre penalty and the Wanderers were ahead 0-3. The Mountain Ash forwards continued to power into the visitor’s pack and their driving maul was a constant threat. From one attack the Wanderers were penalised and the scores were levelled at 3-3 making it all to play for in the last 15 minutes. Both sides brought on some cavalry, but the pattern of the game didn’t really change. The home side attacks were having to come from deeper and deeper and Fish was able to relieve the pressure kicking deep on several occasions. From one kick a late tackle gave the visitors a penalty on the Old Firm 22 and Fish reopened the 3 point lead 3-6. The game entered its final minutes and the home side mounted one last challenge. From a massive driving maul they were awarded a penalty and their kick to the corner gave them one last chance on the last play of the game. They pounded the Wanderers line searching for the winning score, but the Visitor’s line threw their heart and soul into the defence and when Morgan Louch held up an attacker as he carried over the line the referee blew the whistle to send the Wanderers into the last 8 of the Plate. Final score 3-6.
Pens: Luke Fish (2)
Massiv man of the match: Max Wootten Special Mention: Dylan Lawley