Late Flurry Secures Win
Walsall 32 Stoke 10
Walsall gained a league double over their Staffordshire rivals after they came from behind to score four tries in the final ten minutes of this Midlands Two encounter at Delves Road.
The visitors had started well and took the lead after only four minutes. The Walsall defence missed two tackles, which allowed centre Steve Talbot to score wide out. He also put over the conversion to establish an useful early lead. But the Walsall team have been playing some good rugby recently, and they soon settled down to the task of taking control of the game. The forwards and backs retained the ball well and set up several promising positions, eventually they gained some reward when Matt Wood put over a penalty. They resumed this positive approach and were rewarded with a fine try just before half time. Centre Richard Towe made a strong run, the ball was then moved quickly away from the ensuing ruck. Full back Chris Mould joined the attack and fed the ball to Andy Turner, the powerful winger broke through three would be tacklers to cross wide out.
The manner that this 8 -7 half time lead had been achieved, suggested that the hosts would add to this after the interval. Although they continued to dominate, the referee suddenly changed the pattern of the game. Only ten minutes of the half had been played when Walsall had two players sent to the sinbin in quick succession. No 8 Rod Dickson and flanker Steve Halbert were both adjudged to be infringing in the contact area and were given a ten minute rest. The second yellow card also saw the referee award a kickable penalty to Stoke. Talbot stepped up to put over the kick from thirty meters.
The visitors took advantage of their numerical superiority and began to exert a great deal of pressure on the Walsall defence. But the hosts responded well and held on until the two miscreants returned to the fray. Although they were back to full strength, they were finding it difficult to break through a stubborn Stoke defence. But, as so often this season, it was full back Mould that spotted the gap, as he glided through and over the tryline from thirty meters. Woodâ€™s conversion made it 15 â€“ 10 with five minutes left. Two minutes later and captain Pierre Barneix made a neat break and fed Mould, who once again cut through the visitorâ€™s defence for another converted try. The team from the Potteries was now finding it difficult to cope with a rampant Walsall attack, and their cause was not helped when the referee decided to add on an incredible thirteen minutes of so called injury time. Young flanker Gareth Evans went on to make his Walsall debut, and made an immediate impact. He supported a Turner break and then popped a pass to flanker Nick Field who crashed over. There was even time for No 8 Dickson to drive over from close range to complete the scoring.