Tense Finish as Camp Hill Secure Play off Place
Camp Hill 24 Walsall 17
This was a contest that became a traditional ‘game of two halves’. The hosts knew that they needed a bonus point win to guarantee an end of season play off position. They therefore attacked at every opportunity and had the ideal start as they drove over for a try after only seven minutes. But it was only during the final ten minutes of the half that they added the vital scores. Walsall had made a rather lethargic start with several basic errors giving possession away at vital moments. However, they created one opportunity during the opening quarter, and it came, courtesy of a superb break by Dean Ainger. The young scrum half was making his debut for Walsall and his fifty meter run was only stopped by some desperate defending. Camp Hill, eventually, got their second try after their scrum became under pressure. But they managed to scramble the ball away and a missed tackle resulted in an easy fifteen meter run for the touchdown. Just three minutes later the hosts scored their third try, in similar circumstances, with this again coming from a scrum that was under pressure. The scrum half did well to get his pass away and there was enough space to squeeze in for a try in the corner. This gave the hosts a 19 – 0 lead with injury time being played at the end of the first half. But there was still time for more scores! Walsall showed some good driving play and finished with a lineout close to the Camp Hill line. The hosts failed to control possession and hooker Pete Fitzgerald was quick to pounce on the loose ball to score his twelfth try of the season. Wood’s touchline conversion was just under the bar. The referee allowed time for the restart and Walsall began to have some effective drives. But the ball became loose and it was kicked ahead. However, the ball ricocheted off other players and bounced up into some grateful Camp Hill hands which gave them another clear run for a try in the corner. This ensured that the four try bonus point had been secured by half time.
This late score would prove to be vital because during most of the second half the hosts had to do some desperate defending against a determined Walsall team. The visitors used the slope on the Sharmans Road pitch to good effect and it was pleasing to see the team being confident to run and pass the ball at every opportunity. It did result in two more scores, but they should have really scored far more. Only eight minutes of the half had been played when Walsall broke through for their next score. Good carries by Liam Taylor, Jamie Hickman, Mike Benson and Fitzgerald, was then supported by Jeffrey Williamson. The winger made good ground and gathered his kick ahead before Fitzgerald, was involved again. This time he showed off his passing skills as he found Dominic Wieczorek in support. The young winger showed good speed to outpace the defence a go over near the corner flag. This early score suggested that the visitors were capable of making a successful comeback. However, an injury to lock forward Alex Woodward, forced him to leave the field. Although the replacements were very effective in the loose, this loss of Woodward would prove to be vital because the visitors struggled to secure lineout possession for the rest of the game. Indeed, it would seem sensible to assume that Walsall would have secured at least one score from the numerous lineouts that they had close to the Camp Hill try line. But, credit to the opposition, as they successfully overturned possession on every occasion.
Walsall made it a very nervous final quarter for the hosts however, after good handling from defence by Wood,Ford and Crowhurst gave space for full back Ethan Walker to cover thirty meters and then follow up his kick ahead. Although the attack was stopped the ball was moved out to Rod Dickson, who made good ground before it was fed to No8 JB Luzcak. He showed good strength to break through tackles before touching down under the posts to give Wood an easy conversion. It then seemed to be a matter of when would Walsall score again. Several breaks were made but the passes were not accurate. Several drives were made, but the hosts displayed some superb defensive play. Williamson, Dickson, Luzcak, Hickman and Taric Tin all went close, and even over the try line. But the Camp Hill defence stayed strong to secure their promotion play off place. Everyone at Walsall will wish their traditional rivals all of their best wishes and support in gaining promotion for next season.