Weakened Walsall Battle Bravely
Hereford 27 Walsall 8
Walsall returned to the Wyeside to replay the game that was abandoned last January. The visitors were forced to make several changes because of injuries and unavailability. Even so, once again, great credit has to be given to a Walsall team that battled hard throughout and were unfortunate in not gaining a consolation league point. The game was played on a greasy pitch with frequent blustery showers and it was the visitors that dictated the early exchanges. Good forward carries created a position deep in opposition territory. Eventually scrum half Pittaway found Carless with a long pass and the fly half put in a well- placed cross field kick. Winger Richard Fearnhead outsprinted the defence and won the race for the touchdown. Although Weston just missed the difficult conversion, he was on target a few minutes later with a thirty meter penalty. An 8 – 0 lead was a true reflection of the game at this stage. Walsall maintained this commitment for the first quarter of the game. But, thereafter, they struggled to secure enough possession on a regular basis to make any further breakthroughs. They were also disrupted by hooker Jones and lock forward Richardson both being forced to leave the field because of injury. However, Walsall’s greatest problem was their inability to avoid conceding penalties at a variety of situations. This proved to be crucial as the hosts were able to gain good field positions. They scored their only points of the first half after Walsall had been penalised twice in quick succession. This, eventually, saw Hereford produce a series of drives that resulted in a score near the corner flag. The second half followed a similar pattern with the referee seeming rather keen to penalise the visitors, while often ignoring similar transgressions by the home team. This led to several lineouts deep in Walsall territory with the hosts forcing their way over on two occasions. The visitors did create a couple of scoring opportunities with the backrow of Recce Bennett, Jeffrey Williamson and Nathan Blackwood always supporting or instigating attacks and also being very evident in defence. Young Blackwood’s replacement, Rod Dickson, also used his vast experience to good effect. There were also some strong runs and good defensive tackles by centres Clarke and Lay. Late in the game there was further controversy when a Walsall attack was penalised for obstruction. Hereford immediately kicked to touch and launched another attack which also seemed to involve elements of obstruction. The hosts, though, made a speculative kick ahead which the Walsall defence failed to clear and Hereford dived on the loose ball to score their bonus point try. The game came to an end with Walsall pressing for a score, but spilling the ball which resulted in the final whistle.