“To go in at half time only 3 behind was a credit to our defence and to come away with the win was a credit to our counter attacking” claimed a happy head coach Matthew Bolton (with glass of port in hand on the bus journey home)
“I can quite understand why the announcer thought I’d scored that great try in the corner. It’s the sort of thing I do all the time in my dreams” added Charlie Johnson after being given credit for Lloyd Chalke’s try.
On a bright afternoon at Pontypool Park there was a cagey start to the game as both sides tried to find weaknesses in each other’s defence. The home side slowly started to gain some momentum on the back of a strong scrum and some determined running from their back row. The Wanderers were forced onto the back foot but the defence remained organised and although Pooler had the possession they struggled to find any real penetration. As befits a game where one side is clearly on top the penalties started to flow the home side way but they were unable to take full advantage and it took 25 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. From a drive involving several phases the Wanderers were caught offside in front of their posts and Clayton Gullis stepped up to open the scoring 3-0. The Wanderers were forced into a change at scrum half with Tom James having to step in at scrum half and Pontypool extended their lead to 10-0 when a visitor’s scrum was comprehensively shoved off the ball and number 8 Adam Blake picked up and crashed over to score. Gullis converted from out wide. The Wanderers hit straight back. From the kick off Pooler cleared downfield and Ed Doe started to counter attack. He elected to kick ahead but sliced his kick sideways. Whilst the crowd burst into laughter Charlie Johnson followed the kick and whilst confusion rained in the defence and amongst the officials Johnson gathered the ball and flicked it inside to Doe who had followed his kick. Doe was then clear to run in from 20 metres to open the Wanderers scoring (the crowd stopped laughing!). Ianto Griffiths converted and the sides went into the break with the score at 10-7.
The second half saw more running rugby from the Wanderers as they began counter attacking from deep when the opportunity arose. The game became more even in possession as the visitors started to believe that they could turn the scoreboard around. An attack from deep involving Doe and Owen Marshall nearly resulted in Doe’s second try after a kick and chase ended with the ball being spilled just short of the Pooler line. The home side were finding it difficult to regain the territory that they had in the 1st half and some sensible kicking from Griffiths kept them pegged back in their half. The home side did extend their lead with another Gullis penalty following a clean break in midfield but it was short lived. Following another clearance kick Doe was able to counter attack again. He was held just inside the Pooler half but Lloyd Chalke came onto the ball at pace and he went crashing through the defence. Despite the attention of several defenders the winger was able to stay strong and crash over in the corner for a superb solo try. Griffiths missed the conversion but the Wanderers had the momentum at 13-12. Despite personnel changes the home side were finding it difficult to break clear as the visitors defence allowed them little headway. The Wanderers started to mount more and more pressure with close quarter driving from the forwards nearly resulting in scores. From one drive close to the home side line a killed ruck saw Pooler receive a yellow card and the Wanderers maintained the strangle hold. Eventually the line was breached. From a lineout deep in the Pooler 22 a neat step and break from outside half Griffiths saw him crash over for the vital score. Despite missing the conversion the Wanderers were ahead 13-17. with time running out the home side were forced to run from deep at every opportunity but as had happened all afternoon the Wanderers defensive line held firm and they gave up ground very sparingly. The game was held in the home side half despite brave attempts to break clear and moves of many phases. Eventually the ball was spilled and the Wanderers were able to record their second win on the road this season.
Final Score: Pontypool 13 Wanderers 17.
match pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12570451@N04/