Wanderers land first blow in race to the title
“A massive team performance that goes to show what we can achieve when we all pull together.” Commented coach Dan Fish “Impossible to single out players from the best performance of the season so far”
On a wet windy evening on the all weather surface at Llanishen the early exchanges were a little tentative as both sides realised the importance of the fixture. Good jackaling gave the home side early field position but the Wanderers defence was solid. The visitors took a little time to get into their stride. Eventually an attack with a good carry from Josh Male made inroads but once again the defence was solid and The Squirrels cleared their lines. A penalty offence at a ruck gave the home side the lead with a well taken kick soon afterwards and they seemed to be shading the territory with the wind on their backs. Some solid forward driving from lineouts put the Wanderers under pressure and as the penalty count rose against the Wanderers the visitors were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Joe Russell was penalised at a ruck for dangerous use of the shoulder in a clear out. Piling on the pressure Rhiwbina looked to increase their lead and when awarded a kickable penalty they elected for an attacking scrum. As they drove forward the ball popped out of the scrum and the Wanderers hacked it clear to relieve the pressure only then to concede another penalty which put them under pressure again. More driving by the home side gained another attacking penalty and this time they accepted the kick to double the lead to 6-0. The score finally galvanised the visitors into action. Rob Weston drove into the heart of the Squirrels defence and after quick recycle the ball went wide to Phil Pariyo who squeezed over in the corner. Luke Fish converted from the touchline to put the Wanderers ahead 6-7. With the weather certainly playing its part the game ebbed and flowed from end to end as both sides strove to gain an advantage. Back up to full strength the visitors gained a little momentum from some driving lineouts of their own and when Fish put a penalty into the home side 22 the Wanderers took their chance. First a lineout drive put the defence on the back foot and as the would be tacklers looked to cover the wide channels scrum half Ioan Lewis sniped away and crossed under the posts. Fish converted 6-14. Rhiwbina responded in the dying minutes of the half and with the last play they converted their third penalty to send the sides into the break at 9-14.
With the wind on their backs the Wanderers looked to control the territory early on. Pariyo had an early chance out wide but the defence marshalled him very well. Fish kept pinning the Squirrels defence back with well placed kicks and as the visitors started to gain control they went further ahead, Rob Lewis, having a massive game in both loose and tight, carried deep and after recycling the ball well Male hit the line at a great angle and he had the power to crash over besides the posts. Fish converted 9-21. The Wanderers continued to concede penalties at rucks but the home side found the solid line of tacklers led by Cameron Gibbon and Male hard to break down and as hard as they tried they could not get the momentum to put the Wanderers on the back foot. Both sides started to call for reinforcements but with Fish marshalling the game well on the wind the visitors continued in the ascendancy. With the Wanderers finally realising that by keeping their hands out of rucks they would not concede so many penalties they were able to manage field position much better and the home side continued to find penetration really difficult. The Wanderers secured the bonus point try soon afterwards. Scrum half Ioan Lewis put the ball up in the air deep in the home side 22 and with the exaggerated bounce provided by the all weather surface the ball eluded the defender. Max Cunnington chasing hard gathered the ball and he brushed away the tacklers to cross for the fourth try. Fish landed the conversion and the Wanderers were on their way at 9-28. With the wind strengthening the challenge for the home side was made even more difficult and despite their efforts they could not break free of the shackles. The final score of the night came after subs Ryan Davis and Luc Williamson carried well and Male was on hand to power his way over despite the attention of several defenders. Fish landed his fifth conversion 9-35. In the dying minutes Rhiwbina showed some real fighting qualities, showing why they are second in the division, as they moved the ball well and put the visitors under pressure. The Wanderers went down to 14 with Davis in the bin but it was not to be the Squirrels night and the Wanderers left victorious at 9-35. Advantage Wanderers in the race for the title but with 7 games left Rhiwbina are very much in it and more than capable of turning it around in the run in.
Tries: Phil Pariyo, Ioan Lewis, Josh Male (2) Max Cunnington
Cons: Like Fish (5)
Management man of the match: Rob Lewis
Wanderers Massiv man of the match: Rob Lewis