Wanderers vs Henley III
Wandering off to a winning start.
With the big wait finally over, a hunger to play was very present. New season, new league and no less than 7 new Wanderers in the match day squad - The drop off was eagerly anticipated. Henley 3s applied considerable pressure for the first 10 minutes. Setting up shop in the home side’s half. Encouragingly, the defence held strong and the opposition came away with nothing. Then, in a brief spell where the home side gained traction in the Henley half, they came away with 3 points thanks to the boot of debutant Nick Burch. This attacking spell was indeed brief, as Henley came right back at the Wanderers. Taking the penalty kick option when it came. Lesson learnt from the first 10, and 3-3 after 22 minutes.
The first quarter had proven to be a tough test for the league, not so new, newbies. Lots of defending against a big experienced side. The pressure then finally told, as Henley crossed the line following a successful lineout 15 meters out with a big carry from the set piece. The lack luster press did not help and Henley converted (3-10). From there both sides were battling for dominance. Big hits, decent phase phase counts and the occasional error brought the sides close to half time with 7 points the difference. Next thing you know, the Wanderers discover their attacking form, and with genuinely very good play, “Le Petit General” Guillaume Janin, snipes a try from open play on his debut – starting from the Reading half and via close to double digit phases, several offloads, a good few gain line carries, Burch added the extras… class! Now 10-10, there was time to play a little bit more before the HT whistle. This time proved valuable for Reading as amazingly they were able to snatch the most unlikeliest of kick chase tries. From the carrying, bumping, sidestepping prowess provided by powerful prop Steve King. To the twinkling, toe poking, thumping boot of yet again prop Steve King. The chase was on form the half way line, young flier Kheson Howard showed serious desire to chase down the kick. With 10 meters to gain on the back 2 or 3, he took off and touched down beating the defence by inches following a last ditch dive touching down. Big cheers for this one. Howard picking up where he left off last season - Ruthless. The half ends 15-10.
The game restarts, and Henley spring straight into action. The half time break suiting the experienced side. It didn’t take long to cross the line this time as they go back ahead after 2 minutes (15-17). From there, the fight for momentum continued. Big tackles and solid defence from both sides. Some tackles were tittering on the side of dangerous and after a few had gone unchecked. The yellow card came out for Henley following a no arms tackle. This saw Wanderer’s Captain Brent Lee storm to within reaching distance of the try line after a few phases from a Reading scrum 10 meters out, and stretching (with no second movement) to slam the ball down between the sticks. Burch converting for his joint easiest of the day (22-17). With Henley down to 14 men, it didn’t take long for the home side to find the space, putting young newcomer Luca Busciglio-Bland on the wing to run over the line untouched. Busciglio-Bland did well to run it under the sticks as Burch converted (29-17). More clever play followed as Wanderer’s took the goal kicking option to go 15 points clear. This decision could have proved vital, as there was a big push from Henley 3s with a swing in momentum and numbers. Henley were on their third, and longest, siege on the Wanderer’s line. Scrum, after scrum, penalty after penalty, all leading to two yellow cards (Lee, Busciglio-Bland) and a Henley try converted (32-24). There was time for Henley to score again, but Wanderers kept them out even with 2 men in the bin.
A fantastic bonus point win to kick off the season and a great team performance. Special congrats to Wanderer new comers Collard, Eghan, Bucknell, Holbrook, Janin, Burch and West. All who had excellent contributions.
Tries: Janin, Howard (20", 27"), Taylor (60"), Grundy (70").
Conversions: Burch (4).
Penalties: Burch (1).
Team: Johnson, Collard, King, Champ, Eghan, Bucknell, Holbrook, Lee (C), Janin, Burch, Mitchell, West, Howard, Bowers, Daniels.
Replacements: Roper, Hill, Busciglio Bland.