Walsall Win a Thriller
Walsall 32 Leamington 29
This was, without doubt, the most entertaining game of rugby to be seen at Delves Road this season. Both Walsall and Lemington are in secure mid-table positions in Midlands One West, and to some extent there was very little pressure on either team. But, even so, it was a pleasure to see both teams attempt to run and pass the ball at every opportunity, much to the delight of the sizeable Easter Saturday crowd.
It was very evident in the opening ten minutes that this was going to be a free flowing games, as the ball was moved at every opportunity and penalties were quickly taken. The home team had already created three try scoring chances during this period. One attack from deep in their own half, instigated by fly half Matt Wood, saw centre Richard Towe and No 8 Adam Parr covering seventy meters before being stopped just short of the line.
Surprisingly, it was twenty minutes before the first score. A quickly taken penalty saw lock forward Alex Woodward make good ground before finding the ever present Steve Halbert in support. The ball was fed back to Matt Wood, who switched the direction of attack; he found full back Chris Mould, who cut through the defence to score the first try. Lemington, however, replied in similar fashion, with the ball going through several pairs of hands before reaching Alex Carroll. The young centre running in for a fine try which Tom Secher converted. But it was the hosts that got the final score of the half, when Halbert and centre and Daniel Simpson made strong runs which resulted in the opposition conceding a penalty which Wood put over to establish an 8 – 7 lead.
The second half started well for Walsall, when they established a good scrum position near the Leamington line. It proved to be the ideal opportunity for No 8 Adam Parr to pick up and drive over for a try which Wood converted. But, once again Lemington hit back. A well placed cross field kick was gathered by winger Simon Dudley, who scored wide out. Secher’s conversion bounced on and over the crossbar to make it 15 – 14. The hosts increased their lead half way through the second half, when they attacked, and supported well from deep in their own half. This time it was a series of well-timed passes from Wood,Towe and Mould that resulted in winger Tom Emes being given the space to run in a superb try, which was again converted by Wood, However, within four minutes it was 22 – 19. The Warwickshire team put together some good passes which resulted in Secher scoring near the corner flag. During the final fifteen minutes the game followed a similar pattern, although there were several stoppages because of injuries. A Wood penalty made it 25 – 19, with ten minutes remaining. But the game was far from over, as a dramatic interception saw Lemington’s Matt Cooper sprint eighty meters for a try which Secher converted. The visitors were now leading 25 – 26 with six minutes left. This became 25 – 29 two minutes later, as the visiting fly half put over a thirty meter penalty. But the hosts would not be denied their win. A strong scrum followed by a forward drive resulted in the ball being passed to Wood, he immediately linked up with Towe, who fed a good pass to Mould. The full back sent a long looping pass to Tom Emes on the left wing, he took it well and sprinted to score in the corner. Wood’s superb touchline conversion making it 32 – 29 at the final whistle. Walsall were the winners, but Leamington had made them work hard, and had also produced some fine rugby skills as well.