Late Penalty Robs Walsall of Deserved Victory
Walsall 27 Dudley Kingswinford 28
The Walsall team and supporters would have been distraught after seeing promotion chasing DK gain an undeserved victory with a last minute penalty at Delves Road. The hosts had produced some sizzling rugby, and gave a performance that made a mockery of their lowly league position. It was a game that started badly for the hosts because they conceded two tries in the opening ten minutes. A dropped pass in midfield was gathered by the visitors, and with some good support play, flanker Sam Pedley eventually scored near the posts. It was a similar scenario five minutes later, when a Walsall mistake was punished with another try. This time the ball was passed quickly to left winger Robbie Jones, who crossed for an easy try. Gareth Bown converted both to establish an early 14 â€“ 0 lead.
The hosts had already showed their attacking intent on several occasions. They were eventually rewarded for their enterprise with a fine try. Centres Fahey and Barneix had linked well, before the direction of attack was switched. Scrum half Bishop sent a long pass to Matt Wood, who quickly found full back Chris Mould joining the line. He seemed to be looking for support, but continued his run through the DK defence to score wide out. Matt Wood put over a difficult conversion, and ten minutes later kicked an excellent penalty from thirty five meters into the strong breeze. It was now obvious that Walsall felt that they could exploit some obvious flaws in the visitors defence. The next breakthrough was instigated by flanker Steve Halbert, who scooped up a loose ball on the halfway line. He ran strongly and linked up with hooker Jimmy Scott, he popped the ball to Fahey, who delivered a perfect pass to Adam Coniff. The speedy winger finished off the attack in style, as he outpaced the cover defence to score wide out. This gave Walsall a deserved lead, with only a few minutes left of the first half. But the visitors regained the lead with a penalty from twenty five meters. Ironically, even this score came as a result of some excellent lineout play by the Walsall forwards. Dudley threw into a lineout only twenty meters from the opposition line. But second row Alex Woodward soared upwards to steal the ball. Unfortunately, his fellow forwards failed to react and struggled to secure possession. This resulted in them conceding the penalty that Bown put over to give the visitors a two point lead at the interval.
Only seven minutes after the restart the sizeable crowd were treated to another excellent try by the home team. This time it started from a scrum on the half way line. No 8 Rod Dickson made good ground before linking with his scrum half. Bishop found Mould in support, and he gave a well timed pass to Coniff. This time the winger had to use all of his strength to break through tackles before scoring another fine try near the corner flag. Three minutes later, the spectators witnessed a piece of individual brilliance that resulted in another Walsall try. The visitors kicked the ball towards the opposition twenty two, this was gathered by Halbert, who threw a long pass to Chris Mould. The full back then set off on an amazing seventy meter zig zagging run that eventually saw him dive over for a fantastic try. Matt Wood put over another good conversion to make it 27 â€“ 17, and to set up the possibility of an unexpected Walsall win. But in the closing twelve minutes Walsall were guilty of wasting possession, and of conceding penalties. A rather trivial offside gifted Bown three points, and another penalty saw the ball moved quickly to centre Stefan Shillingford. He showed a great deal of strength and determination to crash over wide out. There was still two minutes left to play and the hosts were hanging on to a two point advantage. Yet another penalty gave DK the opportunity to run the ball, and although the Walsall players defended heroically, the referee spotted another infringement and this gave the visitors the opportunity to win the game with a penalty in front of the posts. Bown put over the kick, and soon afterwards the game came to an end. But all the praise must go to the Walsall team for producing their best performance of the season, which unfortunately on this occasion was not good enough to secure a victory.