Wanderers edge closer to league title
“A good solid performance against a resilient Squirrels side” commented Manager John Lyons.
“We left a few points out on the field which might cost us in the two games to come” added coach Dan Fish “We need to be more accurate in the opposition 22”
The much awaited clash between top of the table Wanderers and chasers Rhiwbina took place under bright sunshine at the Memorial Ground. With a lot at stake the home side looked a little nervous and it was the visitors who settled into their task first. Moving the ball well amongst forwards and backs they put pressure on the Wanderers but, as many sides have found this season, the midfield partnership of Josh Male and Cameron Gibbon marshal the defence superbly and gave no early ground. It was 10 minutes before the home side ventured into the Squirrels 22 but after absorbing the early pressure they struck. A counter attack started by the ever-improving Max Cunnington set up Gibbon in broken play and he scythed through the defence. As the cover tacklers appeared, he lobbed the ball inside to the grateful arms of Morgan Evans up in support who raced away under the posts for the first score. Luke Fish converted 7-0. Rhiwbina responded well. Recovering the kick off they were straight back on the attack but once again the home side defence was very solid. After relieving the pressure once again the Wanderers momentarily switched off at a scrum and the Squirrels showed what they are capable of. A quick tap and slick hands sent them clear and in a blink of an eye they were under the posts to level the scores 7-7. Back came the home side Cunnington chased well to put the Squirrels under pressure in their own 22 and the pressure was back onto the visitors as the Wanderers tried to establish control. The home side were then forced into an early change with Lee Highgate being forced off due to too much sun and his ginger complexion. He was replaced by Tom Penry Ellis. From an attacking lineout it appeared that the Wanderers were looking to drive but the Rhiwbina pack held firm. The ball was moved into midfield and Josh Male took advantage of some weak defence to crash through and put the home side ahead again. Fish converted 14-7. The Squirrels were certainly adventurous even throwing the ball wide in their own dead ball area but once again Cunnington made a vital tackle and the pressure was heaped on the visitors. Another lineout on the Squirrels 22 led to the third try as once again a drive was held but when the ball was released this time Evans went on a solo run, bursting through would be tacklers and he crashed over for his second try. Fish converted again and the sides went into the break at 21-7.
The home side needed to cement their advantage from the outset of the second half and once again Cunnington was the instigator. He broke well down the right wing and the Wanderers pounded the Rhiwbina line. This time the defence was more than solid and the Wanderers ran out of options. Fortunately, Fish showed a cool head and he popped over a drop goal to keep the scoreboard moving 24-7. The game ebbed and flowed for a time and both sides started to call for the cavalry. The dominance of the Wanderers brought little reward against the resilient Squirrels and despite being predominantly in their own half the visitors remained in the game. As the game entered its final period the Squirrels had their best period of play. Using both forwards and backs to carry the ball at close quarters they worked hard to furnish an opening. The Wanderers defence was starting to creak and giving a way to a series of penalties they came under increasing pressure. Eventually something had to give and a neat move down the blind side of a ruck saw the Squirrels squeeze over for a deserved second score 24-12. The Wanderers needed to snuff out any sense of a late comeback and after Tom Penry Ellis had regained the ball from the kick off the play was back in the opposition 22. After a forceful scrum and pressure from reserve scrum-half Ioan Lewis the home side forced a lineout 10 metres from the visitors line. This time with the defence tiring the catch and drive worked and after a trundle over the line James Greenfield popped up with the ball to claim the bonus point try 29-12. To be fair to the Rhiwbina side despite the scoreline they were never going to give up and they battled to the end. The Wanderers had a chance after a breakout by Gibbon and a run by Adams Jones but once again accuracy in the opposition 22 let them down. The final play went on for a considerable time as, all credit to the visitors, they attacked from their own dead ball line again. After progressing upfield they were finally denied by a stolen lineout and the Wanderers took another step towards the title. Final score 29-12
Tries: Morgan Evans (2), Josh Male, James Greenfield
Cons: Luke Fish: 3
Drop Goal: Luke Fish
Wanderers Management man of the match: Aaron Fowler
Wanderers Massiv man of the match: Max Cunnington