1XV salvage a losing Bonus Point in opening day defeat at Walsall
Report from 'The Puff'
The first game of the new league season saw Camps make the difficult trip to Walsall, relegated last season to this level. With both 1st and 2nd XVs playing over there, and a large travelling support, it was always likely to be a lively day and Walsall provided their usual warm welcome both on and off the field.
Player-Coach Stephen Halbert , returning to his old club, received a particularly warm greeted being on the end of a serious tip-tackle which may well have resulted in more than the resultant yellow card for the Walsall player involved. As it was, Barney Edwards converted the penalty to give Camps a 3-0 lead with a little over 5 minutes played.
The Camp Hill lineout, which had struggled the previous week, was back to its clockwork best and Camps dominated the early exchanges. Walsall's first meaningful possession, however, set the alarm bells ringing as a smooth passing movement amongst the backs was only stopped at the last by an excellent tackle from winger Matt Clarke. The home side were soon rewarded with a penalty which brought the scores level.
The visitor’s lineout domination was not matched in the scum and Walsall managed to push Camps off their own ball and set up a good position in the corner. From another scrum, Walsall passed the ball across the line for a simple try in the corner, which was smartly converted by the fly half.
Shortly afterwards, Camps were pushed off the ball again and the penalty that followed was struck even more sweetly by the same player to extend the lead to 10 points. This was wiped away, however, just before half time when first Edwards converted another penalty chance and then the fly half put in a clever chip, regathered and went over for a try which he converted to bring the sides level at the break.
Camps started the second half on the front foot and a typical steal by Harry Cunningham took them deep into the Walsall 22.There they stayed for nearly 15 minutes but despite considerable pressure on the Walsall line they were unable to turn this into points, the nearest being a penalty miss by Edwards.
Walsall’s first possession of the second half resulted in a Camp Hill mistake in their own 22 and from the scrum the home side produced another slick passing movement at pace for their second try.
A third followed quickly when Camps lost their own ball at the base of the scrum and the ball passed through the Walsall back line before the full back executed a clever kick into the corner for the winger to score. Camps came back with some pressure of their own but once again were unable to turn this into points. When Walsall regained possession another backs move and some poor tackling from the Camps’ backs saw them secure the bonus point try and a 17 point lead deep into the 4th quarter.
Eventually, the Camp Hill pressure did have some effect and the tiring home side were reduced to 14 and then 13 men as a result of yellow cards. The Camp Hill forwards took advantage with two late tries, firstly from Stephen Halbert following another successful line out and then from stand-in captain Ryan Large that secured an unlikely losing bonus point
Man of The Match, Sponsored by The Walkabout - Simon 'Barney' Edwards (pictured)