Neath experience too much for battling Wanderers youngsters
“Every day is a school day and it was a bit like year 7 & 8 playing years 12 and 13 yesterday. The experience of the Neath side made all the difference. There were still positives. The scrum is solid, Rob Lewis finally got back on the park after his injury and the boys kept trying for a full 80 minutes. Their heads could have gone down but they kept at it.” Commented Head coach Martyn Fowler.
“A couple of old heads and this team would look and play so differently” added backs coach Darren Gibbon.
“Did you see how nice my hair was” contributed team manager Mark Gould.
On a grey day the Wanderers returned to the Gnoll for the first time in several years but there was not to be a repeat of the cup triumphs of years ago as Neath ran out comfortable winners. The Wanderers began brightly, retaining possession well and going through the phases but the home side defence was solid and they soon eased the pressure. Breaking downfield they went on the attack and before long they were driving over for their first score 7-0. The visitors defended valiantly and when the ball squirted out of a Neath ruck Dan James broke clear. He set off downfield only to be hauled down 15 metres from the home side-line and the attack broke down. The Wanderers were forced into an early change when James Grainger went off to be replaced by Gabe Santos and then the home side added a second try from a driving lineout before there was some cheer for the travelling supporters, when a driving lineout of their own was driven over and James came up with the ball 14-5. The game then settled into a pattern with Neath clearly on top as their experience told. A penalty extended their lead to 17-5 but the visitors were able to defend and repel their attacks. With the scrum showing up well the Wanderers did have their moments but no matter how hard they tried the black wall in front of them rarely looked stretched. The game ebbed and flowed but Neath could not convert any more chances and the sides went into the break at 17-5.
The second half continued in a similar vein as the visitors were on the end of assault after assault but once again, they defended valiantly. A third Neath try sealed the deal at 24-5 and as both sides started to empty their benches it was a matter of how well and for how long the Wanderers could hold out. A bonus point try followed making it 31-5 and the visitors were forced into some reshuffling of their back line as more injuries followed. There were moments of cheer for the Wanderers with Tom Richards and Santos showing up well and Ryan Shallish battled well for the full 80 minutes. Rob Lewis on as a sub for his first game in a long time had a chance to stretch his legs in midfield after an interception but with 50 metres to go he was easily hauled down, (he blamed Courtney’s strapping- restricting his speed!). Neath added a further two tries, but they squandered a few late chances ending the game comfortable winners 45-5 showing the young Wanderers side where they must strive to be to compete in the Championship when it begins.
Try: Dan James
Management MOM: Ryan Shallish
Massiv MOM: Tom Richards
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