Wanderers title hopes dented
Porth Harlequins 22
“Take nothing away from Porth they played very well, took their chances and possibly deserved more from the game but we are very disappointed in our performance a number of players lacked discipline and really let themselves down today. Credit to some of our younger players who pulled us through and delivered at the death to get us the draw”
On a grey afternoon in the Rhondda a tremendous game was fought out and the Wanderers grabbed a late draw in a game that for most of the match looked beyond them. The early pressure came from the visitors with Will Adams Jones going close after a counter attack started by Max Cunnington but the home side defence was solid and they cleared their lines. It was clear from the outset that the Wanderers lineout was misfiring and with the scrum under some early pressure it was no surprise when Porth took the lead after a scrum penalty 3-0. The home side started to build in confidence and as the visitors seemed somewhat lack lustre in their approach they started to build pressure themselves. A second penalty doubled the score to 6-0 and soon afterwards as the penalty count against the Wanderers mounted, a third penalty made it 9-0. The game ebbed and flowed with the visitors starting to string some phases together but they seemed unable to break down the home side defence and with the set piece still not functioning correctly Porth had easy opportunities to clear their lines. Eventually the Wanderers gained some momentum. Rob Lewis drove well with ball in hand and after a series of penalty advantages a penalty in front of the posts was converted by Luke Fish to reduce the arrears to 9-3. Lewis was on hand to carry well once again soon afterwards and with good recycled ball Cameron Gibbon was set away. He eased through the defence and despite close attention crashed over for the first try of the game 9-8. The Wanderers looked to close the half out to allow them to regroup but Porth had other ideas. Stealing another lineout in Wanderers territory they took play deep into the visitors 22. A series of drives followed and as they appeared to be crashing over the referee awarded a penalty try 16-8. That also resulted in Lewis seeing yellow which meant the second half would start with the visitors down to 14 men.
Despite the disadvantage of a missing prop the Wanderers began the half well. Pounding the Porth line with drive after drive they piled on the pressure but as per the first half the Porth spirit and defence was strong and they held out against the onslaught. The Wanderers called for the cavalry upfront but the home side marshalled their defence well and kept the visitors at bay. A counter attack from Cunnington looked dangerous but poor discipline from the Wanderers pack resulted in a penalty allowing Porth to establish field position once again. The pressure came onto the visitors as the home side started to drive at the Wanderers line. The visitors scrum had shored up somewhat and was starting to exert some pressure but after winning a penalty at a defensive scrum the penalty was reversed by some poor discipline and Porth were able to continue pressurising the Wanderers line. Something had to give and when awarded another chance Porth extended their lead to 19-8 with their fourth penalty. This was followed up with a fifth penalty, just going over after a favourable bounce on the crossbar, and it seemed that the game was firmly in Porth’s hand at 22-8. One thing this young Wanderers side has though is plenty of spirit when faced with adversity. They started to string phases together and now winning lineout ball they started to turn the tide. After electing to take scrums from penalties when deep in the Porth 22 they finally added to the score when a retreating scrum was penalised by the referee with a second penalty try of the game 22-15. All of a sudden there was hope for the visitors but with the clock against them the draw seemed unlikely. Porth were awarded a penalty on halfway but the kick to touch went dead and the Wanderers had a scrum to work off. Cunnington again made ground down the right wing and after good recycling Josh Male found a way through the tiring defence to glide over. Callum Bricknell added the conversion and with a minute to go it was tied up at 22-22. Neither side could furnish a chance at the death and a relieved Wanderers were glad to take away the 2 points at the final whistle.
Tries: Josh Male, Cameron Gibbon, Penalty try
Cons: Callum Bricknell
Pen: Luke Fish
Management man of the match: Lee Highgate
Wanderers Massiv man of the match: Lee Highgate