Carless Kicks Walsall to Victory
Tamworth 16 Walsall 18
Walsall maintained their challenge at the top of Midlands Two West after a last gasp penalty secured them a win over their Staffordshire rivals. It was very much a game that was ruled by the referee’s whistle with both teams being penalised regularly. Walsall’s kicker, Mitch Carless was successful with six of his eight penalty attempts. But it was his final effort, from thirty-five meters, that proved decisive. The hosts pressed from the kick off and it was not long before they were awarded a penalty which Norton duly dispatched. Walsall drew level within ten minutes as a Dickson run took play deep into Tamworth territory. This resulted in the first of Carless’ penalties. The visitors began to put together some good attacks. A sweeping piece of play resulted in winger Ethan Walker being stopped near the corner flag. This attack ended with a forty meter penalty for Carless. Although the Walsall forwards were always in the ascendancy, they were frequently penalised for various indiscretions. Tamworth took advantage of this by setting up several attacking lineout options. Although they failed to breach the Walsall defence from their forward drives, their backs were far more effective. They took advantage of some uncharacteristic hesitancy in the Walsall midfield defence that saw winger Arnold go through for a try under the posts which Norton converted. Walsall, however, will feel aggrieved at being denied a try after centre Clarke was through for a score. But was halted by the referee’s whistle that resulted in a Walsall scrum after no advantage had been applied. More powerful forward play with Dickson and Fitzgerald being stopped after good runs resulted in Carless putting over another penalty to make it 10 – 9 at the interval. The visitors had the advantage of the slight breeze in the second half and proceeded to exert prolonged periods of pressure on the hosts. Tamworth, too their credit defended well. While Walsall were, once again, guilty of handling errors and being rather selfish when close to the tryline. However, within three minutes, Carless had put his team back in front with a thirty-five meter penalty kick. Seven minutes later Norton punished a tackle violation by Walsall with a penalty to put his team in front once more. It was not long before Carless put over his next penalty after Tamworth had drifted offside. Forward drives and a superb break by centre Rob Angell resulted in further scoring opportunities for the visitors. The final four minutes proved to be a dramatic period. The hosts had another penalty when they got into the Walsall half and Norton’s kick gave his team a one point lead. Walsall’s restart put the hosts under pressure, then after several strong drives the referee awarded Walsall the crucial penalty that Carless converted.