Windy Win for Wigton
Mike Penrice reports....
Wigton’s Jekyll and Hyde season continues with the regular pattern of a disappointing away game being followed by a strong home performance. This time it was Aldwinians who, in a game dominated by a strong wind, were beaten 43-12 by Wigton in an effort which improved as the game went on.
The visitors had first use of the wind and keeping the ball well, they dominated the opening few minutes in the Wigton half. The home team’s first respite came when second row Robert Marrs won a penalty at the break down with Aldwinians penalised for holding on. The Aldwinians half looked a long way away as Wigton had to work really hard to make much progress into the strong wind. Kicking was ruled out as an option so it required great efforts of precision and concentration to work upfield. An error was likely to undo a lot of good work.
To be fair, both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball in the testing conditions, although Wigton were able to help their cause by taking a couple of balls against the head at the scrum. Wigton finally broke into Aldwinians territory courtesy of a run by winger Stephen Harris who came off his wing to run a great angle taking the ball from No 8 Stuart Creighton following a midfield scrum. Wigton showed good retention, working their way gradually into Aldwinians’ 22 and being awarded a penalty. Such was the strength of the wind that scrums were often taken as the option at penalties. A pass too high or too low saw the team in possession frequently lose momentum and have to start again from behind the gain line. Marrs received the ball about twenty yards out and some of the visiting spectators were no doubt bemused to see him stand still and brace himself for the tackle. However, the Wigton pack coalesced around the big man and set up a driving maul which made ground steadily to the tryline where stand off Dan Reed claimed the close quarters try. His conversion kick was heading between the uprights but the wind blew the ball back infield.
Wigton were soon on the scoreboard again when, from the restart, David Hanabury, operating at inside centre, made a little break which was carried on by Creighton in support. The pack then came in to make strong, short runs to win the battle of the gainline with second row Jamie Warwick and prop Kevin Robinson figuring prominently. It was Marrs who delivers the coup de grace as he powered over the line from a few feet out. Reed’s conversion was again confounded by the wind but Wigton were now ten points to the good.
A loose passage of play from the restart allowed Aldwinians to play in the Wigton 22. Incredibly, each side took it in turns to cough up possession in this area of the field. Three times Wigton seemed to have the chance to relieve the pressure, but each time they generously returned the hall to the opposition. A fumble gave Aldwinians a scrum five metres from Wigton’s line. Wigton had previously had the better of the scrums, but the visitors were invigorated by a sniff of the line and produced an emphatic dive to push back the Wigton eight and scrum half Matty Ross touched down. Full back Wade Martin then came up with an impressive strike to convert from wide out, making the scoreline a close 10-7.
Taking the half as a whole, Aldwinians had periods when they dominated territorially but possession was much more evenly divided. There were times when the visitors failed to use the elements judiciously, one such instance coming from the restart when replacement back Richard Mooney struck the ball too well, sending it over the dead ball line, giving Wigton a scrum back. The first attempt at using the ball was fumbled, but Wigton produced a turnover from Aldwinians’ scrum ball. Once again the forwards were making steadily progress with short runs but the ball was whipped out wide with the passing asking too much of the receiver and a good chance was lost. However, with the score in their favour and use of the wind to come, Wigton must have felt reasonably happy with the halftime situation.
In the second half Wigton combined good variety and use of angles with their kicking and more accurate handling to produce a very competent session of play. First, Reed hit a well weighted box kick which found touch in the Aldwinians’ 22. Next, the forwards won a lose ball on the visitors’ throw and finally Hanabury finished things off when his pace allowed him to ghost/through a gap in the defence for an unimproved try, making the score 15-7.
However, Aldwinians were soon looking to redress the balance and were constructing some patient build up play in the Wigton half. Reed reaga passing move well and intercepted a pass from his opposite number Callum McMahon. He had a head start on the defence but from sixty yards out he was looking unlikely to make the distance. He spotted Hanabury on the wide inside. His pass failed to go to hand, but Hanabury was able to dribble the ball on and score. 22-7 wrapped up the bonus point, but it was not yet a winning margin.
Indeed, Wigton had to reshuffle their back division when the dependable Richard Moffatt, who had kept the Aldwinians’ midfield well bottled up, had to leave the field with a niggling injury. With no backs on the bench, Dan Couzens found himself on the left wing, something he probably wasn’t expecting to happen this morning.
Aldwinians were nothing if not persistent and soon that persistence paid off. With the forwards again showing good retention in the approach, the ball was moved wide where winger Alex Hughes was able to score. The wide conversion had no chance but Aldwinians were back in the game at 22-12.
Centre Wynand van Zyl and scrum half Ross combined well to prise open the Wigton defence. However, a loose pass lost all momentum and a lot of ground into the bargain. There was a further blow when Ross had to leave the field with ahead injury. From then on it was Wigton who dominated the final quarter.
Defensive pressure won the ball in the visitors’ 22 and winger Mitchell van Zyl was shown the yellow card for a fairly obvious deliberate knock on. Again the forwards did some donkey work and the Reed did well in some claustrophobic conditions on the right wing, squeezing a pass to flanker Josh Nicholson who did marvellously well to finish in the corner with next to no room in which to operate. The try was a justified reward for Nicholson, who with fellow flanker Richard Jackson got through a barrow load of tackling in the game. Reed’s impressive conversion made the score 29-12.
Next, as Aldwinians tried to build from deep, Marrs won a loose ball in their 22. Scrum half Fergus Ledingham read the situation well and put up a perfectly weighted chip which Hanabury ran onto for another score with Reed again converting to make the score 36-12.
The final score was a solo effort by back rower Greg Wrathall who had joined the fray from the bench. He ripped the ball out of a maul and, dodgy hamstring notwithstanding, beta a number of despairing defenders before claiming a try. Reed again added the extras for a 43-12 score.
Wigton finished the game well on top as from the restart Reed produced a delicious angled kick to once again pin back the opposition.
Following today’s fine performance, particularly in the second half, surely Wigton must have a chance of landing a win in Lancashire when we visit bottom team Burnley next week