Late Score Secures Win for Walsall
Tamworth 28 Walsall 29
This was a game played in a constant drizzle with a fairly strong breeze. Both teams found it difficult to keep control of the ball with scoring opportunities being squandered. The hosts took an early lead with Danny Norton putting over a penalty. But within five minutes Walsall hit back with possibly the best play of the game. It came off a lineout in their own half after fly half Matt Wood and centre Nico Watkins linked together well. Young Watkins made a terrific break and when he was stopped the ball was moved quickly. Wood then found centre Will Hennessey in support. He delivered a good pass to Jordan McColl. The winger brushed off would be tacklers on his twenty meter try scoring run. Roger Weston then stepped up and put over a superb touchline conversion. But, like so often this season, Walsall failed to deal with the restart and were under pressure as they tried to run the ball out of defence. The hosts did well to turn over possession and then some crisp passing resulted in winger Jimmy Carroll going over near the corner flag. Although there was only five minutes left to play in the first half, there was still time for three more scores. Good positional kicks by Hennessey gave Walsall good attacking opportunities. They eventually put their opponents under pressure after a series of scrums close to the Tamworth try line. The referee penalised the hosts on several occasions before awarding a penalty try. However, the inevitable happened at the restart as the visitors failed to secure possession and were then penalised. The hosts opted for the lineout catch and drive approach and eventually Leighton Norton squirmed over the tryline with his brother Danny adding the conversion. Just a minute later he gave his team an 18 – 14 half time advantage after Walsall conceded another penalty.
The second half saw Walsall immediately on the attack with Benson,Weaver Lucak and Pittaway making strong ball carries. This resulted in the hosts conceding penalties with Weston taking advantage with a fairly easy twenty meter kick. This promising start to the half was ruined when errors allowed the hosts to establish a position deep in Walsall territory. Although his team were under pressure, scrum half Kieran Jackson, managed to fend off would be tacklers to score a converted try. The final quarter of the game saw Walsall have long periods of possession. This led to several potential scoring opportunities being created. Eventually a quick flip pass by JB Lucak was gathered by Hal Gozukucuk. The No8 proved to be unstoppable from ten meters out as he dived over underneath the crossbar. Weston again added the conversion. This saw the game go into the final ten minutes with the hosts holding a one point advantage. This was soon to be four points as Norton kicked a penalty after Walsall lost possession and transgressed when deep in their own half. The final three minutes proved to be a very tense period as the Walsall team established a position close to the Tamworth line. The visitors driving play was proving to be very effective. The Walsall pack powered towards the tryline and with the backs also joining in, it was Nico Watkins that got the final touchdown and the bonus point score. This’scramble’ near the corner flag resulted in players from both teams being involved in a bit of a ‘squabble’ The referee deemed this to be serious enough to issue a yellow card to a player from both teams. Although the game was played in good spirit with hardly any confrontational incidents, this would, however, be the hosts second yellow card and the visitors fourth yellow card! The hosts tried to gain a scoring position with their attacks during the final minute.But the Walsall defence proved strong enough to hold on to their lead.