Wanderers edge out Archers after second half comeback

Wanderers 25

Cardiff Met 21

A Massive second half performance saw the Wanderers turn a 9 point deficit into a 4 point victory at an often wet Memorial Ground. Two clearly rusty teams played out an exciting encounter as rugby returned in the form of the WRU Championship cup.

Martyn Fowler head coach: “Another step in the right direction for this young side. Confidence is growing and combinations are starting to come together. Game management will have to be looked at but that will be done in the cold light of the day”

“We managed the second half very well” commented coach Darren Gibbon “it was a massive squad effort with all 20 players making contributions to the win.”

Despite the occasional heavy shower the teams served up a feast of rugby as both sides tried their best to play with ball in hand. The early exchanges were even with, not surprisingly, the students happy to play from deep if the chance arose. The Wanderers defenders were pressed into action early on as they scrambled to keep the University at bay. Using a driving lineout to good advantage the Wanderers created a little pressure of their own and it was from one of those lineouts they opened the scoring. A concerted drive marshalled by scrum half Dan James saw prop Eddie Drake emerge from the bottom of the maul as it ploughed over the line to put the Wanderers ahead 5-0. The Archers hit straight back showing slick handling and incisive running they soon levelled the scores and the conversion put them ahead 5-7. The game flowed as both sides tried to get their games into gear after such a long lay-off but clear rustiness on both sides often resulted in a mistake allowing the defences to compose themselves. With pressure mounting on the home side to Students edged ahead after a chip ahead was gathered and the counterattack resulted in the University scoring their second converted try to lead 5-14. The half entered its final minutes with the Archers on top as the home side conceded a string of penalties but no further points were conceded and the University went into the break ahead at 5-14.

The sides emerged from the break with the intent on attack remaining. Plenty of mistakes continued but the Wanderers started to exert pressure especially at scrum time. Their confidence was certainly growing and when a penalty allowed Callum Bricknell a chance to put the home side in good position they struck. Once again it was set up by drives from the lineout and after a couple of close quarter drives from the forwards the ball was released and a great angle from Josh Male saw him crash through the defence to cross besides the posts. Bricknell converted and the Wanderers were back in the game at 12-14. The tails were now firmly up and with the scrum now yielding penalties the students were forced into more desperate defence. As pressure mounted Bricknell cross kicked to James Loxton who gathered the ball and put Will Adams Jones over in the corner. Bricknell converted and the Wanderers were ahead 19-14. The Archers were not going to lie down and they hit straight back. Regaining possession from the kick-off they went on a concerted attack. Another cross kick yielded position and when ball was recycled quickly they crashed over to go ahead again. A superb conversion from the touchline made it 19-21 as the game entering its final quarter. The tension mounted and as more scrum pressure continued to mount on the visitors the Wanderers established good field position. Tempers got a little frayed on a couple of occasions as social distancing rules proved a source of heated discussion and the university saw yellow on two occasions. Bricknell decided on a more pragmatic approach to victory abandoning kicks to the corner in favour at shots at goal and two penalties saw the Wanderers edge ahead first 22-21 and then 25-21. The game entered injury time with Cardiff Met throwing everything at the home side. Great defending and organised defence kept them at bay. As time ran out Bricknell kept the home side supporters with the finger nails firmly in their mouths as two open field kicks gave the Archers late opportunities but the cover defence was up to the task and time ran out for the visitors and the Wanderers recoded a narrow victory.

Wanderers scorers:

Tries:  Eddie Drake, Will Adams Jones, Josh Male

Con: Callum Bricknell (2)

Pen: Callum Bricknell (2)

Massiv man of the match:  Callum Bricknell

Management Man of the match: Dan Watts

Special Mention: Eddie Drake

Match Pics: https://flic.kr/ps/c7gzd

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