TAT STEEL 21
“The team showed great resolve and character in that last 25 minutes” commented Martyn Fowler “14 men against such a strong pack. More vital points, but this relegation battle now involves 7 sides and it will go down to the wire”
On a bright but breezy afternoon the visitors were straight out of the blocks. With the breeze on their backs they took advantage of a penalty following the first line out to get the scoreboard moving 0-3. It was clear from the outset that the approach of both sides would differ. Tata with their juggernaut pack and superior scrum would try to out muscle the Wanderers and the home side would look to move the ball wide at every opportunity. The home side had their first chance from a lineout deep in opposition territory. Moving the ball into midfield James Loxton went close only to be denied by a superb covering tackle from ex-Wanderer Ryan Hall. The game ebbed and flowed from end to end as both sides searched for a telling attack. Tata went close only to concede a penalty and the Wanderers responded immediately. Moving the ball wide Cameron Gibbon made ground deep in Tata territory. Good recycling drove the ball to the line and when everyone expected the ball to be recycled again Tom Penri Ellis took the chance to crash over. Luke Fish converted superbly from the touchline to give the home side the lead 7-3. The wide approach continued to pay dividends for the Wanderers. A neat chip from Fish put Darren Ryan away. He linked with Cobi Flowers who went deep. The ball was recycled and when Tata were caught offside a penalty and a yellow card gave the home side the advantage 10-3. The game became a little heated and both sides saw yellow after a scrum. Tata reduced the arrears with two penalties but as the break neared the Wanderers extended their lead. After a fine move out wide again the home side gained good field position. Driving at the Tata line the defence was stretched and as they raced across to cover the wide channels Fish stepped the tacklers to cross under the posts for a try he converted himself 17-9. In the dying minutes of the half Fish added another penalty to send the sides into the break with the Wanderers comfortably ahead 20-9.
The second half saw the Wanderers extend the lead with Fish’s third penalty 23-9. The visitors seeing the game ebb away responded well. As the Wanderers conceded several penalties Tata took control of the game and they started to look like a side at the top of the division. The home side were forced into a series of defensive sets and eventually the line was breached. A neat kick over the top was gathered for a converted try and it was game on at 23-16. As the visitor’s confidence grew the momentum swung in their favour and the task for the home side was made even harder when Darren Ryan was shown a straight red card for a spear tackle with 20 minutes to go. Several unusual decisions seemed to confuse both sides as the game broke up but the play was all with the visitors. The Wanderers were glad of the strong breeze allowing them to clear their lines on several occasions with deep kicks but it was clearly going to be a struggle to the end. The home side gained a penalty after a Tata player was caught not releasing and Fish took advantage of the wind to land his fourth penalty 26-16. The eight-point lead seemed decisive but the visitors fought gamely. As the wanderers were reduced to 13 men after another yellow card the defence became more and more desperate. Tata’s second try with just over 5 minutes to go left the score at 26-21 and with the numerical superiority it seemed that they might record a remarkably recovery. From the kick-off they were straight back on the attack just as it seemed a score would come Myles Churcher broke clear. His kick ahead caught the defence and as the kick chase was good the Wanderers were awarded another penalty. Fish landed his fifth penalty and the home side were able to control a couple of phases from the kick off to the record the win.
Tries: Tom Penri Ellis, Luke Fish
Cons: Luke Fish (2)
Pen: Luke Fish (5)
Wanderers Massiv Man of the Match: Tom Penri Ellis
PICS ON FLICKR