Wanderers 21 Blackwood 20
“A win brings with it belief. After 2 heavy defeats we needed that no matter how it was achieved” said a relieved coach Matthew Bolton after the narrow victory over Blackwood.
“There is so much room for improvement behind the scrum but our pack performance is really encouraging” added assistant coach Gareth Cull.
On a grey afternoon at the Memorial Ground the home side were out of the blocks from the off. Following a strong scrum the visitors conceded a penalty which Garyn Lucas took quickly and when Blackwood did not retreat 10 yards Ianto Griffiths stepped up to open his account for the Wanderers with a penalty 3-0. Both sides were showing a willingness to run the ball and go through the phases but some over ambition cost Blackwood after 15 minutes. A long inside pass went astray and Charlie Johnson was on hand to gather the loose ball and run in from 40 metres (despite looking like he was running through quicksand in the final metres). Griffiths converted and the Wanderers lead 10-0. The visitors responded well. Reclaiming the kick off they forced a penalty out of the home side and Joshua Steed landed his first penalty of the afternoon 10-3. The game ebbed and flowed with neither side clearly on top. After another quick tap penalty from Lucas, Griffiths was given another penalty chance and his kick just crept over despite his miss-kick 13-3. Once again Blackwood responded well. Showing some good handling and support play they took play deep into Wanderers territory. After the home side struggled to clear, a neat lineout move made space in midfield and Dave Ford crashed over. Steed converted 13-10. The visitors now had their tails up and they started to look dangerous with ball in hand. The home side were forced into some desperate defence but before long Blackwood were ahead. A missed tackle in midfield allowed the visitors in behind the defence and Charles Gittings ran in for Blackwood’s second try. Steed converted 13-17. As the game headed towards half time the home side mounted pressure on the visitors. Using the powerful scrum and driving lineout they camped down in the Blackwood 22. Declining penalty attempts they went for scrum drives but the Blackwood defence was solid. The pressure mounted and after another penalty one of the visitor’s second rows saw yellow. Despite the man advantage the home side could not force a score and eventually Blackwood cleared their lines to take a deserved 13-17 into the break.
The second half followed the pattern of the first with both sides having chances but poor finishing and good defence meant the scoreboard remained unmoved. Good counterattacking from Josh Hurley nearly resulted in a Wanderers score but once again after Blackwood had relieved the pressure Steed was handed another chance which he accepted and the visitors increased the lead to 13-20. At his point the game seemed to be heading to the visitors but the home side hung on their coat tails and it seemed that the luck might be with the Wanderers when a Griffiths penalty went over after landing on the crossbar 16-20. Both sides rang the changes for the final minutes and with time running out the home side started to find some space. A counter attack from Lloyd Chalke got play deep into Blackwood territory and the pressure mounted. Another series of penalties gave the home side a chance and a 5 metre driving lineout saw Haval Ibrahim crash over, amidst a pile of forwards, to score 21-20. With very little time left Blackwood tried to mount one last attack but the Wanderers forwards recovered the ball and cleared the field to gain their win. Final score 21-20.
Tries: Charlie Johnson, Haval Ibrahim
Conversion: Ianto Griffiths
Penalties: Ianto Griffiths (3)
Tries: Dave Ford, Charles Gittings
Conversions: Joshua Steed (2)
Penalties Joshua Steed (2)