Wanderers title hopes dented
“No complaints, Ystrad were the better side on the day” commented Martyn Fowler “Having started well we failed to manage the game and in the second half they kept us pinned in our own half”
On a grey but dry day on a greasy surface the Wanderers began brightly. A scrum from the kick off giving the visitors good field position. Attacking the midfield Ystrad were forced into conceding a penalty and Luke Fish opened the scoring with a penalty 0-3. The early exchanges all went the Wanderers way but a penalty for not releasing the ball allowed the home side to relieve the pressure. Ystrad started to get into their stride and with some crisp movement of the ball they mounted their first attack. The visitors were forced into defensive mode and after several attacking phases the Wanderers forced the ball to be spilled giving them a scrum on their own 22. Everyone expected a simple clearance of the lines, but Fish had other ideas. He released his backs and Andy Evans hit the wide out channels. He broke clear and after James Loxton carried on the attack Cameron Gibbon popped up to race the final 30 metres to score the visitors first try of the game. Fish converted 0-10. Ystrad hit straight back. A scrum in Wanderers territory was penalised and from the free kick the home side scrum half tapped quickly and raced away to reduce the arrears 5-10. The game at this stage was a very open affair with the young backs on either side keen to show their paces. The scoring continued soon afterwards. A speculative up an under was collected by Evans and having outstepped the immediate defenders he raced away. The home side defence seemed powerless to stop him as he sped towards the line for a superb solo try. Fish converted 5-17. Ystrad regrouped and tightening their game plan they started to exert pressure on the visitors. A penalty reduced the arrears to 8-17 and then as the half entered its final minutes they gained control. A late tackle from Myles Churcher saw the Wanderers reduced to 14 until the end of the half and Ystrad took firm control. The Wanderers tried to run the clock down with some close quarter driving, but the ball was turned over and the home side went back on the attack. With the penalty count climbing and declining kicks at goal, in order to squeeze the visitors, the Ystrad pack started to gain control. From a driving maul they flashed back blind and crossed for their second try and the sides went into the break at 13-17.
The Wanderers returned to full strength at the start of the half, but the pressure did not relent. Some poor kicking out of hand, when in possession, allowed the momentum to remain firmly in the home sides hands and it was no surprise when they scored their third try to take the lead 20-17. The lead was short lived though. A rare excursion into the Ystrad half saw the Wanderers draw level. An attack was foiled but an advantage gave Fish a free play and he dropped a neat goal to level the scores at 20-20. The visitors started to ring the changes in order to shake the game up but as the penalty count continued to thwart the visitors attempts to break clear an Ystrad penalty eased them ahead once again. With their slim advantage the home side saw an opportunity to see the game off and they went in for the kill. Keeping the ball tight and using the driving maul to good advantage the noose tightened around the Wanderers. The visitors seemed unable to break the stranglehold and as attempts to gain possession become more desperate more penalties ensued. The home side declined the penalty shots in order to take the bonus point and deny the Wanderers anything, but the visitors heroically defended their line. As the game entered injury time the Wanderers had one last chance to claim a victory when they mounted their first real attack of the half, but a forward pass saw the final act of the game and Ystrad ran out deserved winners 23-20.
Tries: Andy Evans, Cameron Gibbon
Cons: Luke Fish (2)
Pen: Luke Fish
Drop Goal: Luke Fish
Massiv man of the match: Max Wootton