Wanderers overcome tough Athletic challenge
BRIDGEND ATHLETIC 10
“Great effort against a well organised, coached and spirited Athletic side. Lots of positives to take into a massive 2 weeks for this playing group” commented coach Lee Highgate.
“The Athletic were one of the best sides we played earlier in the season therefore we knew it would be tough and they made us battle all the way but our squad is getting stronger despite the injuries and we are looking forward to the run in” added manager John Lyons “Many thanks to Steve Law and Cardiff RFC for helping us out this week in the boiler house as we were struggling with a full physio room”.
On a grey but dry afternoon at the Memorial ground the visitors flew out of the blocks gaining good field position after an offside decision they took the play to the Wanderers and the home side came under real pressure. It was no surprise that the Athletic took the lead but it came from the hands of the Wanderers. Playing in their own half after a couple of phases Luke Fish sent out a long pass which was telegraphed to the Athletic centres last Friday. It was gladly received for an interception try under the posts to put the visitors ahead 0-7. At this point the home side still seemed to be in the changing rooms but there’s nothing like a period of tackling practice to make you realise that the game is more fun when you have the ball. Slowly the Wanderers started to get themselves into the game. Turnover ball was launched downfield by Kieran Martin and after good pursuit by Morgan Evans the Wanderers were denied when Joe Russell was penalised for a high tackle at a ruck. The game ebbed and flowed more evenly with the home side showing intent to counter attack from deep when chances arose but the Athletic defence was solid. The visitors went down to 14 for 10 minutes after the Athletic outside half was deemed to wipe some mud from Cameron Gibbon’s face too aggressively and the Wanderers pounded the Bridgend line. Showing great resilience they formed a wall of defensive tacklers which held firm and a crossing offence in midfield gained them a penalty and a chance to relieve the siege. Back came the home side enjoying their own period of pressure and when a no arms tackle was penalised in midfield Luke Fish stepped up and opened the Wanderers account 3-7. The game entered its final minutes of the half and the home side nudged themselves ahead. A kick through from Fish was well chased by Josh Male and Will Adams Jones and they bundled the defender into touch deep in Athletic territory. From the subsequent lineout drive the Wanderers were awarded a penalty and Fish took advantage of the free play to cross kick to Max Cunnington who took the kind bounce to cross in the corner. Fish converted from the touchline 10-7. The Athletic rallied to end the half and they once again pounded the Wanderers line. This time it was the home side who put up the wall of defence and after Adams Jones and Evans defended a scrum 5 metres out the referee sent the teams into the break with the home side marginally ahead 10-7.
The half began brightly with a neat move from the Athletic as they sliced through in midfield only to be denied by some good scrambling defence from the home side and the Wanderers went back on the attack. Martin stole a ball at the lineout and the home side forwards and backs moved the ball well through several phases only to be denied themselves deep in the opposition 22. Both sides were serving up some really good rugby for the supporters creating chances with good handling between forwards and backs and soon afterwards the home side went close again when, after good work by Dan Apsee, Male was just held up over the line. The home side started to bring on the cavalry with new props Rob Lewis and Luc Williamson entering the fray. From a subsequent solid scrum the home side again went through the phases and this time they found a jink in the Athletic defence. Adams Jones entered the line and he forced his way over despite the tacklers attention and the Wanderers were ahead 15-7. The Athletic also sent for the cavalry and it was all to play for at this stage despite the territorial advantage held by the home side. The visitors reduced the arrears with a penalty shortly afterwards keeping them in the hunt at 15-10 but straight from the kick off the Wanderers were awarded a penalty but Callum Bricknell, on for Fish, hit the upright with his kick. The Athletic cleared to the 22 but the Wanderers were on the offensive. From the lineout the home side were awarded a kickable penalty but Evans sensed an opportunity and he took a quick tap, raced away and crossed unopposed for the Wanderers third try. Bricknell converted 22-10. At this stage it seemed that Wanderers had done enough with time running out but there was still time for plenty of action. Evans saw yellow after a feisty exchange between the scrum halves (not like scrum halves at all!!) and the visitors mounted a series of attacks as the clock counted down. Injury time arrived and the Wanderers defence showed some sterling qualities holding on against a massive bombardment from the Athletic. The home side were reduced to 13 for the final plays of the game when serial offender James Loxton (his 3rd yellow in 12 years!) was sent to the bin with him calling for the video ref claiming he was not offside but despite the Athletic’s efforts they could not force the score that would give them a losing bonus point (that they deserved) and the game ended with the Wanderers continuing their winning run. Final score 22-10.
Tries: Max Cunnington, Will Adams Jones, Morgan Evans.
Cons: Luke Fish, Callum Bricknell
Pen: Luke Fish
Wanderers Management man of the match: Aaron Fowler
Massiv man of the Match: Dan Apsee