Wanderers draw in “game of two halves”
“Certainly a game of 2 halves” commented Manager John Lyons “We could have been out of sight by halftime showing glimpses of what we are capable of but the tables were turned in the second half and we relied on a massive defensive effort to gain the draw”
“Treorchy’s game management of their possession was excellent after the break. They put us under real pressure” added Lee Highgate.
“You could have been forgiven to think the weather played a massive part in the game as the action was predominately all in one half of the pitch but it was a pulsating game from two good sides”
On a grey afternoon in the Rhondda the teams were greeted to warmer and drier conditions than had been anticipated. The Wanderers coaches had asked for a better start than last week and there was certainly more purpose about the visitors in the early exchanges. Treorchy opened the scoring with a penalty after an infringement for not releasing was marched on 10 metres by the referee but the Wanderers looked the more dangerous with ball in hand. Mounting early pressure, they forced the home side defence backwards but they found the Zebras wall of tacklers solid and reluctant to give up scores. From a defensive kick from Treorchy the Wanderers countered with Josh Male going close but once again the home side survived. The pressure continued and from an offside penalty the Wanderers kicked deep into Treorchy territory. Another penalty followed and after electing to take a scrum the visitors struck. Rob Weston drove from the scrum and when the ball was recycled Josh Male cruised through the defence to score. Luke Fish converted 3-7. The play was all with the visitors at this stage and their pack was providing a good platform only to see some poor execution behind let them down at crucial times. Despite that they went further ahead soon afterwards. Another counter attack, this time from Will Adams Jones, took play deep and when the ball was recycled out wide Male was on hand to round the defence to score. Fish added a touchline conversion 3-14. As the half entered its second quarter the home side finally began to get into their stride. The game ebbed and flowed and the Wanderers defence finally had a workout as Treorchy started to string some continuity to their play but still the game was played more or less in the home side half. Back came the Wanderers on the attack but an over complication in midfield saw the ball intercepted by the Treorchy midfield and they raced away to score to reduce the arrears at the break to 10-14.
The second half began scrappily with little indication of the drama that was to unfold. Fish had an early penalty chance to extend the lead but his shot went wide and there was a lot of aerial tennis on display. Neither side could really settle and after another offence at a maul, Fish did extend the lead to 10-17 with a penalty. There then followed a lengthy delay after a neck injury to James Loxton. He was eventually stretchered off and subsequently spent a time in hospital before being sent home. (Reporting a nasty headache but otherwise OK this morning). Who says Zebras can’t change their stripes! (I know it should be Leopards and spots) because from the restart we saw a different home side. They went on the attack straight away and started to look dangerous with ball in hand. A spilled ball with the line beckoning kept the score as it was but it was inevitable that the defence would eventually be breached. After several phases a neat cross kick landed in the wingers’ arms and he crossed for the equalising try 17-17. With plenty of time left Treorchy went in search of the win that now seemed on the cards. The Wanderers sent for the cavalry but they were unable to stem the pressure. As in the first half possession was dominated by one side but poor execution and handling failed the home side when they needed it most. The Wanderers threw everyone into every tackle in order to prevent the score and when pressure was relieved they allowed the home side to come straight back on the offensive as the Treorchy half backs managed the game with considerable expertise. The visitors showed no glimpses of the play that they showed earlier and if there had not been a sterling effort in defence and a couple of lost balls on the line they would have been defeated. But the spirit amongst the league leaders is strong and they hung on to save the draw and move on to another huge challenge away at Rumney next week.
Tries: Josh Male (2)
Cons: Luke Fish (2)
Pen: Luke Fish
Management Man of the match: Lee Highgate
Massiv Man of the match: Lee Highgate