Mountain Ash comeback shatters Wanderers
MOUNTAIN ASH 27
In a sunny Mountain Ash the Wanderers succumbed to their third defeat in a row leaving the coaching and playing group under pressure with a tough cup game against Dinbych in a weeks time. A game that could have been over by half time, such was the dominance of Wanderers possession and territory, saw a dogged and determined Old Firm stay in the game and gain their reward with a superb fightback to claim the bonus point win with the last play of the game.
The bright sunshine saw the Wanderers straight out of the blocks. Looking to move the ball wide at every opportunity they found plenty of opportunity and mileage in the wide channels with Josh Male and Dafydd Smith in the centre both making telling runs. The home side were forced into several defensive sets and when they lost a lineout the visitors struck. Again, with the ball in the wide channels, Smith and Male combined to put James Loxton over for the first try 0-5. At this point the home side were struggling to find their feet and the Wanderers applied the pressure. A Luke Fish penalty put the visitors further ahead 0-8 but the arrears were reduced when a ruck offence allowed the Old firm to get their board moving with a penalty of their own 3-8. The visitors continued to furnish chances out wide but determined defence inside their own 22 prevented the Wanderers from finishing any of their attacks and Mountain Ash doggedly hung on. The Wanderers were forced into a change with openside Michael Owen going off to be replaced by Max Wootton but the pattern remained. More chances followed but poor handling and the continued solid defence of the Old Firm kept the scoreboard operator quiet. Fish landed his second penalty of the game after the defence was caught offside but however hard the visitors tried they could not turn one of their attacks into a try scoring opportunity. The half seemed to drag on with seemingly plenty of injury time but eventually the whistle went on the half with the Wanderers coaches frustrated and the Mountain Ash coaches probably happy that they were still in the game.
The Wanderers made changes to their pack at the break and the half began with the home side going down to 14 men for 10 minutes after an offence that saw Fish increase the lead to 3-14 with his third penalty. At this point there was no sign of the drama that was to come in the last quarter of the game. The Old Firm got themselves back in the game after a series of close quarter drives from a driving lineout wore down the Wanderers defence and they reduced the arrears to 10-14 with a converted try. This revival was short lived as a yellow card against the visitors Joe Russell saw a pick up in the Wanderers effort. From a clearance kick by the home side the visitors counter attacked and when the ball was sent wide to Will Adams Jones he rounded the defence, shrugged off several defenders and crashed over in the corner to make it 10-19. The game ebbed and flowed but the home side forwards were starting to show glimpses of what was to come with some solid driving at the defence. With the scrums passive whilst Russell was in the bin the home side started to gain confidence and the Wanderers came under sustained pressure. Defending deep in their 22 it looked as though the home side would score but Aaron Fowler nipped in with an interception and broke clear. Showing decent pace for an old man he made it into the home side half before placing a kick downfield. Max Cunnington outpaced the defenders, kicked ahead and made it first to the ball to touchdown for the Wanderers third try. Fish converted 10-26. As the game entered its final quarter it still seemed that the Wanderers would end their losing streak but the game was not over. A try for the Old Firm after more close quarter drives still left them 9 points adrift 17-26 with the final minutes looming. The Wanderers sent for fresh legs but the game dynamic had shifted with the home side playing with nothing to lose. The visitors were forced into a defensive mode and their lot was made worse when Fish was sent to the bin for an offence in the “red zone”. The Old firm elected to run the penalty and once again close quarter driving brought its reward as they powered over to make it 22-26. With the clock in the red it was now all or nothing and a poor kick off set the Old Firm away again. Attacking from their own 22 they were halted and the Wanderers turned the ball over only to give it back again instead of killing the game off. The home side broke clear down the blindside and after some decent handling they waltzed through the defence to not only gain the win but a bonus point as well. Final score 27-26.
Tries: James Loxton, Will Adams Jones, Max Cunnington.
Cons: Luke Fish
Pens: Luke Fish (3)
Massiv Men of the Match: Will Adams Jones/ Aaron Fowler