Wanderers dig deep to stay unbeaten
Bridgend Athletic 8
“There are days in the season where you have to dig really deep to get a result and this was one of those days” commented manager John Lyons “It was a huge defensive effort against a tough Athletic team”
On a day when the weather conditions were clearly going to dictate the game the early exchanges were cagey with the tough handling conditions limiting the flow of both sides. The Wanderers came under pressure as the game settled and after an attack deep in the visitor’s territory a penalty for offside saw the Athletic open the scoring with a penalty 3-0. Sadly, the attack also saw the loss of the home side’s outside half Jacob Lloyd with a nasty ankle injury causing a 10 minute delay and sending both sides to the changing rooms as a means of sheltering from the rain. On the resumption Josh Male set up a decent charge into opposition territory but the Bridgend Athletic defence was solid and they cleared their lines. The Wanderers started to string some phases together and from one move of several phases they earned a penalty in front of the posts and Luke Fish stepped up to level the scores 3-3. The game ebbed and flowed but the defences ruled the day. James Loxton went close for the Wanderers but both sides struggled in the conditions to furnish a try scoring opportunity. Eventually the stalemate was broken. An advantage from a penalty against the Wanderers sat the home side break through a ruck and race away downfield. Despite the visitor’s cover defence forcing the attackers wide the Athletic maintained their composure to cross in the corner for the opening try 8-3. With the half time whistle approaching the Wanderers struck back. A break by James Loxton saw play go deep into the home side 22 and after some recycling and close quarter driving from the pack Ross Pritchard shipped around the base of a ruck to crash over to level the scores. Fish converted to send the sides into the break at 8-10.
There was no let up in the conditions as the second half got under way and the Athletic got into their stride piling on the pressure. The Wanderers defence was clearly stretched and the task was made more difficult with Ryan Davis spending 10 minutes in the bin for a no arms tackle. Using the man advantage the game became camped in the visitor’s half with only rare respite when the Wanderers cleared their lines. After the yellow card was served the visitors sent on a raft of subs in order to give fresh legs to the defence. The Athletic had a long range penalty go just wide but otherwise the conditions stifled any flare in the game and it became a war of attrition as the home side battered the Wanderers door but found the wall of would be tacklers difficult to break down. A rare sortie into the home side half saw Pritchard make a neat break but his chip kick went dead and soon the normal service of the Athletic controlling the game resumed but finding no real killer pass or break that would unlock the defence the score remained 8-10. Both sides emptied their benches but nothing changed and the attritional nature of the game, in the increasingly wet conditions, continued. The Wanderers continued to make occasional visits to the home side half but some poor game management allowed the home side to re-establish their dominance of possession but they still struggled to create the winning score. The visitor’s discipline in defence was key and they did not cough up any easy penalties for the Athletic to convert and eventually they ran out of time and the Wanderers took a relieved win back to Ely to remain top of the league.
Try: Ross Pritchard
Con: Luke Fish
Pen: Luke Fish
Wanderers Massiv man of the Match: Dan Apsee.