Wanderers Open side Sam Warburton
Glamorgan Wanderers 37
“A game that would have graced any final, we are really proud of the team” commented Chairman Blair Evans after the Wanderers had given Neath a mighty scare in the cup semi-final. “It was a great lift to hear so many of our supporters cheering us on” added Captain Matthew Bolton.
On a bright but breezy afternoon at the Talbot Athletic ground Wanderers began in sensational fashion. A quick lineout taken by James Loxton allowed Gareth Morris the chance to catch Neath off guard and open the scoring with a try. James Thomas converted and the Wanderers lead 7-0. The Welsh All Blacks responded well showing why they are runaway champions of the league. They looked dangerous with ball in hand and their pressure soon allowed Arwel Thomas to reduce the arrears with a penalty. The young Wanderers side were not overawed and they once again took the game to their opponents with Richard Thomas driving into the heart of Neath territory. Neath were dangerous on the break and they received some luck as a forward pass by Thomas was missed by the officials and Kevin James crossed in the corner. The Wanderers were straight back on the attack and after several drives by the pack James Loxton put through a little chip. The defence covered but Loxton stole the ball and crossed in the corner for a great try. The game see-sawed back and forth with both sides entertaining the crowd with some sparkling rugby. After another Wanderers attack Neath were penalised at a ruck and Thomas increased the lead to 15-8 with a penalty. Neath hit straight back again and James bagged his second try in the corner after a missed tackle to make the score 15-13.
Wanderers James Thomas
Wanderers lost lock Alex Luff with a shoulder injury just before the break and Martin Roberts secured a slender lead 16-15 for Neath at half time with a drop goal following another attack involving several phases.
Richard Hodges brought on his young cavalry at halftime with Huw Dowden and Scott Andrews joining the battle. Neath took the initiative straight from the kick-off and a move out wide allowed them to score under the posts. Thomas converted and they lead 23-15. Andrews was proving a real handful for the Neath defence as he carried the attack to the champions and James Thomas was able to reduce the arrears with a penalty after more attacking play from the Wanderers pack. The game then turned on a crucial 10 minutes after Wanderers had lost Craig Morris to the sin bin. Neath were not going to let such an advantage slip and they responded with 2 quick tries to give them breathing space. The Wanderers youngsters would not lie down and great work from Josh Hannam put Aled James over in the corner to make the score 35-23. Any hope of the revival were dashed as a chip over the top by Arwel Thomas set up another Neath try and this was followed up by the clinching try soon afterwards. Despite no chance of victory the Wanderers showed why they have such a great spirit. With Hannam doing good work out wide Sam Warburton, who put in so much work all afternoon, was on hand to pounce on a chip ahead to score. Thomas converted and as the game drew to a close the Wanderers afternoon was rounded off with a superb try by Richard Thomas after a drive by Scott Andrews and support from Warburton. “we may be out but we can hold our heads up high” commented coach Richard Hodges.
Author: Alyn Humphreys
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