Walden gain a hard fought victory
A thrilling match with the outcome in doubt until the last play of the game.
Walden's last home game proved a thriller with the result in doubt right up to the last play of the game.
In fine sunny conditions it was Walden with several players returning from injury who started off the stronger, playing with commitment and determination they were first to score with a series of phases played in the visitors 22 and eventually an overlap was created for centre and captain Mark Kimberley to score wide out. 5 nil 8 mins.
They extended their lead as Old Priorians were on the attack close the Walden try line and conceded possession, a gap was spotted on the blind side and winger Adam Miles ran into space towards the half way line, passed to prop Josh Harris who committed the last defender before moving the ball on to Kimberley who went round under the posts. Full back Tom Price converted and Walden were 12 nil up after 12 mins.
However OP's then scored two converted tries in the next 15 minutes using their well drilled pack to go in front 14 -12 and when they scored again on the last play of the half things looked ominous for Walden going into the break 21 – 12 down.
Walden needed the first score in the second half and did not have wait long as almost straight from the kick off fly half Tom Hughes made a break crossing the half way line at pace and some good handling skills from the back row forwards got the ball up to within 10 metres of the try line before being stopped, but left winger Ant Waite was on hand to collect the ball and go over in the corner to narrow the gap to 17 – 21.
The visitors were next to score taking the lead out to 17- 26 but Walden replied when right winger Adam Miles collected a pass and rounded his opposite number to narrow the gap to 22 -26.
Walden took the lead with still 15 mins left on the clock with Walden on the offensive and OP's having to defend giving a series of penalties away eventually getting a player sin binned, Walden used the man advantage in the scrum to nearly drive over the line only to be stopped but two phases later No8 Nik Baker ran on to a short pass at pace and forced his way over to score. 29 – 26.
But in this thrilling encounter OP's retook the lead as they broke Walden's defensive line and a couple of good passes later were under the posts 29 – 33 70 minutes.
Walden showing immense character were not ready to concede victory and they attacked from deep, with a combination of forwards and backs working their way up the field. Nik Baker was on hand to finish off the move to restore the advantage 36 -33.
With still 6 minutes remaining the visitors looked like they might win the game after gaining a penalty and kicking to the corner. Some resolute defence repelled the driving maul and they were forced to spin it wide. Walden's defensive line held but OP's kept possession for several phases and things looked ominous when there No8 charged into the Walden backs only 10 metres out but Kiwi centre Jon Goodin used his strength to strip the ball in the tackle and fittingly captain and fellow centre Mark Kimberley kicked it dead for the final whistle to blow.
What a great game a real show case of Rugby played in the right spirit by both teams and Walden can be proud that they fought hard knowing they were already relegated to give a timely boost to morale with one game to go before the summer break.
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