Walsall Finish Season in Style
Cheltenham 14 v Walsall 31
Walsall finished their season with, what was eventually, a comfortable victory at Cheltenham. They faced a team that were keen to please their enthusiastic supporters, on a sunny day in Gloucestershire. This was apparent even from the kick off, as they surged forward at every opportunity. But Walsall, under the captaincy of Pierre Barneix, who was playing his final match, responded well. They soon began to dominate possession and produced a series of flowing attacks. Winger Tom Emes showed a great deal of strength to score the first try after centres Richard Towe and Pierre Barneix had made good ground. North, however,retaliated with a forwards instigated try to level the scoring.Ten minutes later the visitors scored again. This time there was some good inter play between the Walsall backs, which saw the ball moved wide on a couple of occasions. Emes,fly half Matt Wood and full back Chris Mould carried on the attack which resulted in lock forward Mark Reeves scoring wide out. Although Wood missed the conversion, Walsall still had an useful 12 â€“ 5 lead. The advantage should have been extended on several occasions, but the visitors were guilty of several elementary handling errors. They paid the penalty for their complacency, when the hosts broke through to score near the posts to establish a 14 â€“ 12 interval lead.
The second half, however, saw Barneixâ€™s team produce a far more convincing performance, and displayed some delightful running rugby. The backrow of Dickson,Halbert,Field and replacement Hazelhurst were very evident in attack and defence. Less than ten minutes of the half had been played when Walsall took the lead. Flanker Halbert combined with his winger, Adam Coniff, to put Wood through a gap to score a try, which he converted.Five minutes later Coniff was the recipient of the scoring pass, as Walsall outflanked the North defence to score near the corner flag. It was into injury time when Wood got his second try, as he dummied his way through from twenty meters.
This victory meant that Walsall would finish in eighth position in Midlands Two. A rather disappointing final position. But after suffering injuries to many of the key players before Christmas, the team produced several good performances in the latter part of the season, and must now be optimistic of doing much better next year.