Walsall Prevail in Dour Struggle
Walsall 18 Nuneaton Old Eds 15
This game was far from the usual end of season feast of running rugby. The visitors were keen to get some league points in order to avoid relegation and tended to rely on their strength and physique to break the Walsall defence. The hosts, in contrast, were prepared to run and pass the ball at every opportunity. But their positive intentions proved to be an embarrassment at times, as they fumbled or lost the ball on a regular basis. Indeed, Walsall had three easy try scoring opportunities during the game, but on each occasion the pass was not given or not delivered properly. Once again, it was Matt Wood that got the first points on the board with a twenty five meter penalty. This was followed ten minutes later by a try by No 8 Rod Dickson. This was after full back Chris Mould had placed a long kick close to the Nuns tryline. A fine catch in the lineout by Nick Field resulted in the forwards producing a powerful drive to set up Dickson for his try. A short while later the visitors got their first points when Peacock kicked a penalty after a Walsall forward had infringed at the breakdown. It seemed that Walsall’s biggest crowd of the season would witness a fine try just before half time. A scrum produced some good ball which was moved quickly through a couple of phases before space was created on the right, but the try scoring pass failed to reach Weston on the wing and another opportunity was missed. But a resulting penalty from a difficult angle and in pouring rain was kicked by the dependable Wood. The 11 – 3 half time lead looked very fragile after just a minute of the restart as Walsall failed to deal with the kick off and the ball was moved quickly for the visitors to score their first try. Flanker Simon Hall supported well and crossed near the posts, giving Peacock an easy conversion. The rest of the half was of a rather disappointing standard as both teams failed to produce any consistence in their play. It was left to Walsall’s young Australian winger,Jono Edwards, to brighten up the day. He had hardly received a pass for most of the game, and as the opposition attempted to move the ball wide, he intercepted a pass a sprinted over fifty meters before doing a spectacular dive to score under the posts. A pleasing finale for him in what was his final game of the season. Wood’s conversion gave his team an 18 – 10 lead with less than ten minutes left to play. But, as so often this season, Walsall allowed their opponents back in the game. A series of missed tackles gave Nuns a good position and when they moved the ball to winger Sven Brown, he finished it off well from thirty meters to make it 18 – 15, and thus giving his team a vital losing bonus point. It now means that a win in their final match next week will see them avoid relegation. Walsall, in contrast, will aim to get into the top six in Midlands One West if they can achieve a convincing win at Halesonians.