TATA STEEL 46
“I certainly did not expect to be pulling on a playing shirt again!” commented head coach Matthew Bolton “It was a cruel blow to lose Haval so close to kick off”
“Once again massive effort but at times our game management is poor” added manager Luke Burton “but we’ll keep on fighting right to the end”
On a lovely afternoon at the Memorial Ground the Wanderers suffered a cruel blow in the final warm up run. Hooker Haval Ibrahim sprained a knee and was forced to pull out as the teams ran out on to the field. There was a late adjustment with Steff Simpson stepping in and head coach Matthew Bolton having to don the boots once again! The game began brightly with Tata on the attack early on. Injecting pace into the game and with some nice offloads they put the Wanderers under pressure. The home side was forced into some desperate defence but no matter how hard the visitors tried they could not break the Wanderers defence down. In fact the first real scoring chance came to the home side despite a lack of field position and possession. A break downfield by prop Gruff Roberts set up an attack and when a penalty was awarded Ianto Griffiths stepped up but his penalty chance just went wide. After 23 minutes the deadlock was broken. More sustained pressure from the visitors stretched the Wanderers defence and Brett Thomas sneaked over from a ruck on the home side line. Gareth Walters converted 0-7. With the deadlock broken Tata regained momentum and before long they extended the lead with another well worked try by Rhys Tucker also converted by Walters 0-14. The situation seemed glum for the home side but from the kick off there was a shift in momentum. As Tata tried to clear their lines Ianto Griffiths charged down the clearance kick and he reacted quickest to the loose ball to pounce for the Wanderers opening score. He converted his own try 7-14. That score created a sea change and all of a sudden the Wanderers picked up their game. Using the pack to good effect they pounded the Tata line for the remainder of the half but no matter how hard they tried they could not find a way through the visitor’s brick wall defence and the sides went into the break with everything to play for at 7-14.
The second half began in the worst possible way for the home side. The Wanderers pressurised the visitors but when they kicked the ball clear a horrible mistake in the Wanderers defence allowed right wing Jordon Skidmore to run away and score. Walters converted 7-21. The game started to open up with both sides starting to throw the ball around as befits an end of season game in the sun. Griffiths reduced the arrears with a penalty but Tata increased the lead when a Wanderers attack broke down and the visitor’s backs were able to canter away down the left wing for Walters to score 10-26. The game became looser and looser and when Owen Marshall pounced on a loose ball, to get his London Marathon attempt off to a great start, he ran 50 metres down field to score. A conversion by Ed Doe made it 17-26 and although a penalty from Walters made it 17-29 the visitors were made to sit up and react when quick thinking from sub Gareth Cull gave Josh Hurley a chance to gather a cross-field kick and score. Doe converted again and at 24-29 it seemed that a home win was possible. Unfortunately for the Wanderers injuries to both second rows meant a huge shake up in the home side pack and Tata were able to reinforce their superiority with a drop goal from Simon Evans and two more tries from Ross Morgan and Gareth John, both converted by Walters to give Tata a resounding 24-46 win.