Fish holds nerve to see Wanderers home
“Nothing end of season about that game” commented Martyn Fowler “A really tough game against a good Rhiwbina side. All credit to Luke it was his choice to kick the penalty and he nailed it”
“A spot of déjà vu, two years ago the same fixture was settled with a last play penalty from the Wanderers and here we are again!” commented Manager John Lyons. “Too many of those are not good for the nerves”
On a gloriously sunny day both sides could easily have fallen into an “end of season” run around but this game was to be as full on as any other league game this season. Rhiwbina, behind a very dominant scrum started well. Declining shots at goal they elected to put pressure on the Wanderers line but found a sterling defence in their faces. The visitors, realising that a more open approach suited them better soon started to find their feet. James Loxton set Phil Pariyo away and with support from Morgan Louch and Dan Apsee they play deep into the Squirrels 22. Rhiwbina defended well clearing their lines easily and the game ebbed and flowed with the wider tactics of the Wanderers competing with the more direct tactics of the home side. The game remained scoreless for most of the half until the Wanderers finally broke the deadlock. From a lineout just outside the opposition 22 they struck. Moving the ball into midfield they set up good field position with Dylan Lawley driving well and when the ball was moved back blind Josh Male sliced through the Rhiwbina midfield to score. Luke Fish missed the conversion 0-5. The game continued to be fiercely contested in the heat and several bodies were left feeling the strain. Max Wootton, who has had more than his fair share of injuries of late was forced off but that gave 18-year-old Anthony Cox a first taste of senior rugby. The Wanderers came under intense scrutiny at the breakdown with several penalties going against the visitors but try as they may the home side could not convert their chances. Just before the break the Wanderers went further ahead. Again, a move of several phases with centres Male and Charlie Johnson carrying well, set up the field position and when the ball was recycled Fish used his considerable weight to power over for the second try. He converted it himself to send the teams into the shade at 0-12.
Rhiwbina came out of the blocks after the break with a slight change in tactics as they sent the ball wide and gained good ground. Establishing a good foothold in the Wanderers 22 they piled on the pressure. The Wanderers could see the heat taking its toll and they sent on some fresh legs, but the pressure continued and the home side were soon on the scoresheet with their first try of the afternoon 5-12. The Squirrels had a further chance to reduce the arrears but a penalty shot from in front of the posts hit the upright and rebounded clear. The visitors responded well. Cameron Gibbon, on as a sub, made ground and with support from Johnson and Tom Penry Ellis, play once again was camped in the Rhiwbina 22. Despite the scrum being under pressure the Wanderers were able to maintain decent field position and after several close quarter drives another sub, Josh Hurley squeezed over in the corner 5-17. With plenty of time still in the game the home side were not going down without a fight. The penalty count was mounting against the visitors and from a lineout the Squirrels struck again. The ball was overthrown but it was the Rhiwbina forwards who reacted best. Gathering the ball they raced away to score 10-17. Rhiwbina were certainly back in the game and soon they were level. From another penalty and lineout, which saw Apsee see yellow, they broke into midfield and a neat move saw them cross under the posts for a converted try 17-17. The game was set for a grandstand finish and the crowd were not to be disappointed. Fish broke clear and with more support from Penry Ellis the Wanderers once again camped themselves on the home side line. The move was stopped illegally and Rhiwbina were reduced to 14 for ten minutes. The pressure was piled on and James Greenfield forced his way over to put the visitors ahead 17-22. Despite little time left the game was far from over. The Wanderers were returned to full strength only in the same breath to see Johnson receive a red card for punching. Rhiwbina piled on the pressure again and from a lineout peel they forced their way clear and over to put them ahead for the first time with only a minute on the clock 24-22. With the referee allowing the kick off it was all or nothing and the Wanderers regained the ball and forced a penalty wide out on the opposition 10 metre line. The Wanderers faithful (including Luke’s father!) were calling for the kick to the corner to give the visitors a lineout deep in Rhiwbina territory but the young outside half has confidence in spades and he elected for a kick at goal. With everyone holding their breath he stepped up and sent the ball superbly between the posts to give the Wanderers a victory. Final score 24-25.
Tries: Josh Male, Luke Fish, Josh Hurley, James Greenfield
Cons: Luke Fish
Pen: Luke fish
Massiv man of the match: Aaron Fowler (special mention Luke Fish)