Wanderers vs. Marlow ll
Wanderers clinch 5 points in hard fought encounter.
The weather played a factor, as wind and rain met up to make this a mucky affair. Wanderers did well to earn the full 5 points on a day that asked for a lot of hard yards. 4 tries meant the gap at the top was closed to 3 points - elsewhere league leaders secured a win but not a BP.
Very early on, it was apparent that this was not going to be a gimme. Marlow lls had shown up to play, as was evident from their big and noisy chase from kick off. The ball was contested, but secured by the home side, and following a few phases, cleared deep into the opposition half. The chase was not up to scratch however, the Marlow winger countered with serious pace to evade several defenders and score from miles out. This then converted to put Marlow 7 up after 2 minutes. Luck was also on Marlow’s side - their second try came from the ball spitting out the side of a Wanderers ruck 35 metres out, only to be picked up by the Marlow winger and finished in the corner (0-12). All this after huge possession, territory and set piece dominance for the home side.
After 20 minutes; while 12 points down, in poor conditions and with no points on the board. The home side had a way to go to get back on top - their resolve was being put to the test. How they reacted reminds why they are where they are in this league, as Howard managed to tap back into his rich vein of form to boost the home side, fighting his way over the line twice in the space of 10 minutes (12 - 12). Their journey was not made any easier, as 30 minutes in, there was a yellow card for S Bowers after reacting to a late hit, this pushed the referee to reach for his pocket. Thomas would now shift from inside center to 10 for the remainder of the half, until substituted for Bradbury at the break due to inhury. Thankfully there was still one Bowers on the pitch, young Lewis Bowers making his first start to Senior Rugby.
S Bowers came out of the bin determined as the second half started, it asked for more of the same - tight, disciplined, clever rugby. This play came from a pack that was doing the business and a boot getting us in the right places. Twenty minutes of stalemate ensued until the spark needed to take the lead came from the captain... Sparks. Bursting through the defensive line from his own 22 while gaining buckets of ground, he linked up with Watson and Taylor along the way. Taylor demonstrating a huge hand off in the middle of the park and finishing out wide (17 - 12). From then on, each yard became tougher to make, it was a battle of wills. Fortunately, Wanderers had will in spades! All week, the focus was about keeping it tight, getting over the gain line and protecting the ball. Today, the effort put in off the pitch came to fruition on the pitch. Phase after phase of gruelling pick and goes and one out runners brought play into the Marlow 22, Wanderers then got a scrum. Wanderers got the edge and Grundy, from the base of the scrum bulldozed and stretch over the line to grab the bonus point with both hands. This was then converted to stretch the gap to twelve points. There was an opportunity to take another 3 points to go 15 clear, but Wanderers wanted to play and went for the scrum (which had been dominant from the off). This desire to play took the game beyond 80 minutes as both sides refused to kick the ball out, they both wanted more.
Tries: Howard (20", 27"), Taylor (60"), Grundy (70").
Conversions: Bowers (2).
Team: Orwin, Sparks (C), Roper, Clarke, Wright, O O'Toole, Watson, Grundy, Fox, S Bowers, Thomas, Taylor, Howard, Wontner-Smith, L Bowers.
Replacements: Lewis, Bradbury.