Wanderers secure nervy victory
Tata Steel 13
“It was all about the W today” commented coach Darren Gibbon “It may not have been pretty but after recent results we needed the boost to our confidence with two ex-premiership sides to come in the next two weeks.”
“Best touchline banter of the season” added the Massiv “really enjoyable to be amongst the Tata supporters who were great fun.”
A grey afternoon but very firm pitch, considering the weather, greeted the players and first chance of attack went to the home side after a penalty against the Wanderers at the opening scrum. Off the top ball put Tata away and they went through the phases only to find a solid wall of tacklers in their way and eventually the ball was spilled allowing the visitors to clear. The early exchanges saw several handling errors as both sides probed away looking for a breakthrough. The Wanderers had a sustained attack from a lineout deep in Tata territory but after a good carry by Cameron Gibbon and several forward drives the ball was lost and the home side defence hacked the ball downfield. The race was on but good work by Will Adams Jones, covering back, prevented a score and the visitors cleared their lines again. The game ebbed and flowed with plenty of aerial tennis on show but neither side could make the telling play. The home side had a chance to open the scoring with a penalty but the shot went wide. The game continued to be littered with handling errors making continuity in the play difficult. The scoreboard eventually got moving when the home side were caught offside at a ruck and Paul Short stepped up to land the penalty 0-3. (Things were made harder for the home side at this point when it was pointed out by the game announcer that Tata were playing Cardiff Met as well as the Wanderers!!) Back and forth the play went with the ball in the air more time than it was in the hands probably no surprise with the two sides lacking the confidence following recent results. Tata drew level with a penalty making it 3-3 and there was nothing between the sides as the half entered its final minutes. A “Crocodile Dundee” Short penalty, following a high tackle, hit the post and as the home side struggled to clear their lines a good run from Phil Pariyo took the play deep and with the last play of the half the Wanderers gained another penalty that Short kicked to send the sides into the break at 3-6.
With the wind seemingly in their favour for the second half the Wanderers established good field position only for another handling error to stop the flow. The deadlock was then broken by the visitors. A penalty allowed them to set up a lineout on the Tata 22 and after a little drive by the pack the ball was released into midfield. Josh Male carried well and when the ball was recycled Adams Jones went close. The forwards secured the ball and Tom Penry Ellis picked up and drove over from close range for the first try of the game. “Dingo” Short landed the touchline conversion to put the Wanderers ahead 3-13. Growing in confidence the visitors started to go through the phases with the ball in hand but the Tata defence was organised and was in no mood to give up any more scores. Both sides started to send for fresh legs and a rare line-break by the home side backs resulted in some desperate defence from the visitors. As the ball was recycled again the Wanderers were caught offside and the home side narrowed the scores with their second penalty 6-13. More aerial tennis followed and when one up an under was spilled by the home side defence James Loxton kicked the loose ball through. A foot race ensued but just as Loxton looked like he’d score the ball bobbled into touch denying him a try. At this point the visitors looked like they would go on and secure the win but Tata hung on in there keeping the visitors at bay. A charge down in the Tata 22 by Rob Weston set up another attack and after several phases a penalty on the home side try-line saw Tata reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. The visitors tried to take advantage with a 5 metre scrum but the 7 man home side scrum was solid. The ball was released into midfield and the slightly too eager defence was caught offside and “Wombat” Short landed his third penalty of the afternoon 6-16. The game entered its last 10 minutes and after more aerial tennis from both sides the home side were penalised for sealing off at a ruck and “Kangaroo” Short landed a 45 metre penalty to give the Wanderers some breathing space at 6-19. With time running out and with nothing to lose the home side threw everything into attack. From a lineout they went phase after phase with both forwards and backs carrying well. The defence became stretched and as gaps appeared they crossed for a score under the posts. The conversion was landed setting up a tense final few minutes at 13-19. Tata looked for their final chance but an up and under was spilled on the home side 22 and the Wanderers were able to keep play in the home side half. A good jackal from sub Luc Williamson regained possession and the Wanderers were able to run the clock down to record a much needed win. Final score 13-19.
Try: Tom Penry Ellis
Con: Paul Short
Pen: Paul Short (4)
Massiv man of the match: Paul Short
Management Man of the match: Josh Male