Walsall Denied Final Game Victory
Walsall 28 Crew & Nantwich 34
Walsall were looking to finish the season with a win on their pitch at Delves Road. This was their final game on the grass surface before work begins to install an all weather playing surface. They seemed to be on course for a positive result in front of a sizeable crowd on the club’s special ex-players day. But the visitors showed why that they are already in the promotion play off position, with some excellent running skills. The hosts were also deprived of some good attacking opportunities as a result of some very puzzling decisions by the match day official.
Walsall were soon on the scoreboard as a well worked lineout play saw lock forward Andy Richardson go over for a try after just seven minutes. Roger Weston then added an excellent touchline conversion. The home team attacking intent was very obvious as they pressed hard for further scores. They seemed to have secured a score as Hal Gozucukuk surged towards the line. But it was deemed that the visiting defence had kept him out and they gained possession. A clearance kick set up a length of the field counter attack which resulted in Colbourne scoring a try which Creighton converted to level the scores. Midway through the first half the visitors took the lead after a strong drive from a lineout saw hooker Germain getting the touchdown. Immediately from the restart Walsall seemed to have regained possession, but the ball was spilled and the Cheshire team were quick to move the ball and, on this occasion, McShane went over for the try, albeit courtesy of what seemed a forward pass. Creighton again added the conversion.
The second half saw the visitors add an early try as a result of the hosts being penalised again. Once they secured good field position they moved the ball well with Colbourne getting his second touchdown. Walsall managed to cut the deficit after the opposition were eventually penalised for their constant failure to stay on their feet at the breakdown. Close range scrums saw No8 Gozucukuk fend off tacklers as he crashed over the tryline. Weston added the extra two points. One of the home team’s best moment of the match came immediately from the restart. Debutant, Louis Vale took the catch from the kick off and made a powerful run, Rod Dickson supported him well and then he linked up to send Gozucukuk away on a thirty meter try scoring run with Weston adding the conversion. Another questionable decision in the tackle area saw Creighton kick a twenty five meter penalty to give his team a 21 – 29 lead as the game entered the final quarter. Most of the rest of the game saw the hosts push hard for further scores with backrow forward Rod Dickson making some decisive line breaks. Indeed, one of these should have resulted in a score, but unfortunately the final pass was spilled. The hosts eventually got the score that they deserved as Gozucukuk and scrum half Dean Ainger linked together well. The Walsall No8 finished the attack off with a fine twenty meter burst for his hattrick score. Weston’s successful conversion made the score 28-29 with seven minutes left to play. Walsall seemed to have repelled a Crewe & Nantwich attack as hooker Luke Pittaway made a spectacular fifty meter clearance kick. But a needless penalty conceded by one of his team mates saw the visitors move the ball quickly and it was Colbourne that broke away to score his third try. The touchline conversion was missed which at least gave the hosts a deserved losing bonus point in addition to their try scoring bonus. But this was a game that Walsall showed they could be more than a match to the second best team in the league. It was also a similar performance against the league champions Whitchurch just a fortnight previously. It is hoped that these displays are turned into match winning performances on the new pitch at Delves Road next season.