Wanderers keep pressure on leaders
MOUNTAIN ASH 10
“Despite the more comfortable score-line this was no easy encounter” commented Martyn Fowler “We struggled to contain their driving maul again, but our stronger scrum which got on top as the game progressed made life easier for us”
“We lacked fluency in our back play. We know we can perform better” added backs coach Dan Fish
On a day that had threatened rain the players were met with much brighter conditions than expected on the Wanderers second trip to the Old Firm in 2 weeks. Last week the first scrum on Wanderers ball came under pressure and the home side forwards gained real momentum but this week the strengthened visitors scrum provided an early platform for the backs to use. Cameron Gibbon made a half break and as the defence fanned out James Greenfield burst away through the ruck and set off downfield. Scrum Half Morgan Louch was in support and when he was stopped inside the home side 22 good recycled ball was shipped wide by Max Wootten and Will Adams Jones crossed for the first try. Luke fish converted 0-7. It was just what the coaches would have wanted putting Mountain Ash on the back foot early on and when Kieron Brown made a similar break through a ruck the Wanderers went close again only to concede a penalty inside the home side 22. The Old Firm tried to get themselves into the game, but they were once again rocked back when a spilled ball in midfield was hacked through by Louch. He chased well and when the cover defence failed to gather the ball Andy Evans showed some neat footballing skills to control the ball over the line to score the visitors second try. Fish converted again 0-14. Despite being behind in the game the home side started to warm to their task and as in the previous game their pack began to put the Wanderers onto the back foot. The visitors started to sit back a little and Mountain Ash put the Wanderers defence under real pressure. This week, as last week, they seemed to struggle after several phases to hold on to possession and the visitors were able to absorb the home side attacks. The pressure on the home side resulted in a number of penalties and it was no surprise when a neatly worked lineout deep in the visitor’s 22 allowed their forwards to break away and crash over for their first try 5-14. Buoyed by the score the home side continued to pressurise the Wanderers into making mistakes but scoring chances were few and far between. Evans made a good break for the Wanderers but when deep in the home side 22 poor execution and good defence killed the move. On the stroke of half-time the Wanderers failed to deal with another driving maul and James Murphy saw yellow. Mountain Ash elected for the lineout 5 metres out but the Wanderers turned the ball over and Fish cleared to send the sides in at 5-14.
A poor kick off chase from the off put the Wanderers on the back foot from the start but as the Old firm attack developed the Wanderers were awarded a penalty for someone using a knee illegally and one of the home side forwards saw yellow as well. The penalty gave the visitors a position on halfway and when the Wanderers’ pack got a little nudge of their own on, another penalty, then an extra 10 yards for backchat, allowed Fish to kick deep into home side territory. The Wanderers elected to exert some pressure with another drive and Brown broke clear to charge 20 metres down the blind side to score whilst carrying 2 defenders over the line. Fish converted superbly from the touchline 5-21. Although they were chasing the game the Old Firm continued to put the Wanderers defence under pressure. Unfortunately, their execution behind their pack lacked the control to create real scoring chances. The Wanderers scrum started to gain a real advantage with a couple of drives resulting in balls against the head, but it was the home side who were next on the scoresheet. A lost lineout ball on halfway was hacked through and a good chase resulted in Mountain Ash registering their second try of the game 10-21. With the sides back to full strength the coaches started to ring the changes, Lee Highgate and Michael Owen were introduced into the Wanderers back row. The visitors gained some momentum and the home side defence was put under real pressure for once. After a penalty right in front of the posts the Wanderers elected for a scrum to try to gain the bonus point score. The scrum applied pressure and after 2 more scrum penalties another Mountain Ash player saw yellow. Unfortunately for the visitors that meant passive scrums for the rest of the game meaning any advantage from the dominant scrum was lost. Despite that the visitors changed their props for some fresh legs and from one of the scrums James Loxton sent out a wide ball to Adams Jones who evaded the defence to score the bonus point try. Fish hit the post with the conversion 10-26. With the victory secure the Wanderers seemed to start playing some frantic rugby, trying to run from deep but as had been the pattern most of the game poor execution resulted in lost possession. The Old firm continued to battle and their driving maul was a constant threat with the Wanderers seemingly having little defence against it. The visitors then dealt out a driving maul of their own and a 30 metre drive at the heart of the home side defence set up another good field position. The defence became stretched and Haval Ibrahim and Highgate went close before recycled ball was gladly received by Evans who crossed for his second try of the game. Fish converted 10-33. In the dying minutes the home side again recovered to mount attacks but the visitors dealt with the threats and secured a slightly more comfortable victory than the week before. Final score 10-33.
Tries: Will Adams Jones (2), Andy Evans (2), Kieron Brown
Cons: Luke Fish (4)
Massiv man of the match: Kieron Brown