Wanderers win Mallett Cup
Cardiff Met 29
On a warm but cloudy afternoon at the Cardiff Arms Park the Wanderers kicked off attacking the Westgate St end of the stadium and they were straight into their stride. From a spilled ball just outside the students 22 a scrum gave the Wanderers good field position. Moving the ball into midfield Cameron Gibbon cut back to set up the play and when the ball went wide Phil Pariyo was on hand, as he has been many times this season, to take a pass and race away to score the opening try. Luke Fish landed a touchline conversion 0-7. Cardiff Met stormed back but a chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty saw the shot go just wide. Back came the Wanderers and in no time at all they went further ahead. From a scrum in their own half Andy Evans cut a superb line off his wing and he sliced through. Myles Churcher ran a superb line in support and despite the attention of the defenders he raced clear to score the second try. Fish converted 0-14. Cardiff Met galvanised themselves for a response and they were soon on the scoresheet themselves. Stealing the ball from the back of a Wanderers ruck they raced away and after moving the ball out wide they crossed for their first try of the evening 5-14. The game settled with both sides guilty of turnovers but also very good in defence and the entertainment for the crowd picked up. The Wanderers set piece provided a good platform and after 20 minutes they went further ahead. Fish put in a good cross kick and on the carpet flooring the extra bounce of the ball fell kindly for the pursuing Pariyo. He showed why he is so lethal this year by side-stepping his opposite number and once clear there was no bringing him back as he crossed for his second try. Fish failed with his conversion 5-19. From the kick-off a great chase by Evans put pressure on the defence causing them to concede a scrum and there followed a earnest discussion on student grants with Churcher clearly in the “what’s all the fuss about” camp. The referee called time on the debate and the ensuing scrum sent the Wanderers further ahead. This time a missed pass to James Loxton saw him break clear and as the defence rounded on him he slipped the ball to Pariyo who cantered away for his third and record breaking try. Phil surpassing, with his 30th try, the 1987-88 season record of 29 by scrum half Kevin Ellis.
Fish converted 5-26. One might have thought the Wanderers faithful could relax but those who have been in attendance all season have seen great starts by the side many times, only for them to be pegged back and once again the opposition stepped up their gears. The students mounted a long period of pressure with some strong close quarter driving backed up with powerful running in the backs. Time and time again drives were repelled and eventually the Wanderers defence transgressed once too often and Aaron Fowler was sent to the bin for 10 minutes. The university elected for a scrum instead of the easy 3 points but the Wanderers stole one against the head and they cleared to the halfway. With 40 up on the clock some great jackaling from Mike Owen gained the wanderers a penalty but instead of putting the ball into the stand Churcher took a quick tap and kicked deep into the Met territory. They needed no second invitation countering from deep they went through the phases and eventually crossed out wide to raise their spirits and to send the sides into the break at 10-26.
Everyone knew this was going to be tense and the Students flew out of the blocks from the restart and with the Wanderers defence struggling they raced away to score a superb try out wide to put them back in the game at 15-26. The Wanderers knew that the next score was vital and they changed tactics somewhat. Electing for the more direct approach with forwards driving at the heart of the defence they established good field position. A series of penalties allowed Fish to keep the game in close to the try-line and after several drives Rob Lewis set up a driving maul and as the forwards rallied behind him they forced their way over the line with Aaron Fowler popping up with the ball. Fish converted again 15-33. Back came the students showing enterprise from all over the field and the Wanderers were happy to see Fish keep pinning them back when the chance arose. The pace of the game remained high and both sets of coaches started to empty their benches for the last quarter. The Wanderers went on the attack again but as Fish tried another little grubber kick the ball landed in the hands of one of the defenders who quickly raced away to set up another attack. Several phases later they were under the posts and once again the arrears were reduced 22-33. There was still time left for the comeback, but the Wanderers extended their lead virtually making the game safe. A penalty from the increasingly dominant scrum gave the Wanderers a lineout in the Students 22 and a neat little front peel put hooker Fowler in space and he nipped in down the blindside for the Wanderers 6th try. Fish again landed a touchline conversion 22-40.
Despite the score-line the Met were not going to go down without a fight and once again they piled on the pressure. Forcing the Wanderers onto the back foot they moved the ball into the centre of the field allowing them to crash over under the posts for a converted try 29-40. Nerves amongst the Massiv were a little frayed but the game was put to bed when the students failed to deal with a kick though after spilling the ball in attack. Gibbon was the quickest to react and he kicked ahead gathered the ball and crashed over for the 7th try. Fish landed his 6th conversion 29-47. The games dying minutes saw the Students desperately trying to run from deep as the Wanderers flung themselves into defensive tacklers, in an attempt to keep them pinned in. Eventually the ball went dead and the final whistle blew on a superb and worthy win for the Wanderers.
Tries: Phil Pariyo (3), Aaron Fowler (2), Myles Churcher, Cameron Gibbon
Cons: Luke Fish (6)
Massiv man of the match: Andy Evans
C & D Man Of the match: Luke Fish