Walsall Back to Winning Ways
Stafford 13 Walsall 36
Walsall, after suffering five consecutive defeats, produced a more encouraging performance in their latest encounter. They secured a bonus point victory with late tries resulting in, what was eventually, a rather flattering final scoreline. Once again, Walsall had to field a team which showed two enforced changes with injuries ruling out Mike Benson and Niko Watkins. But they welcomed the return of JB Lucak and Jordan McColl. The hosts started the game in a positive fashion with scrum half Dean Fuggle making a superb break in the very first minute. Fortunately, for Walsall, their scrambled defence managed to withstand the Stafford drives for the tryline. However, it was the visitors that struck first with a superb attack that covered fifty meters. Good scrum ball saw Hennessy and Weston link together well, with the latter finding Dean Ainger in support. The scrum half outpaced the defence over thirty meters to score near the uprights. Weston stepped up to add the extra points. The visitors started to show more ambition in their play and they added another try within five minutes. This time it was No8 Gozukucuk that started the attack with George Perkins supporting well. The ever present Hennessy was in support and a well timed pass result in centre Rob Angell going over. Weston added a testing conversion kick. Another sweeping attack should have resulted in another Walsall score almost immediately from the restart. But the final pass went badly astray and the opportunity was wasted. Another Fuggle break resulted in the hosts scoring their first points, with Cantrill putting over a twenty five meter penalty. The hosts were soon pressing again, but Walsall showed they were keen to play a more expansive game, and after a few good forward drives, they scored their third try. Winger McColl made a powerful run before finding Jack Crowhurst with a good pass. The Walsall full back then beat two defenders on a thirty meter try scoring run. The first half came to an end with Stafford taking advantage of Walsall’s failure to retain possession. Several good forward drives resulted in prop forward O’Connor crashing over for a try. The opening twenty minutes of the second half proved to be a rather disappointing affair, with Walsall in particular, really struggling to secure or to maintain possession. It was Stafford that secured the first score of the half. Several good ball carries resulted in replacement Haigh going over. This latest score meant that the visitors held a precarious six point lead. But the team responded well as they continued to try and stretch the Stafford defence. It wasn’t long before they secured the try bonus point, as Hennessy found McColl with a long pass. The Australian soon powered over near the corner flag. It was a similar pattern of play during the final ten minutes. Replacement, Tom Aston, made a powerful run. The ball was recycled quickly and Hennessy showed some superb skills with a neat chip, catch and a lightening quick pass. Once again it was scrum half Ainger who was in support and he sprinted thirty meters before making a spectacular try scoring dive under the Stafford posts. Weston added the conversion. The final attack of the game saw a Hennessy pass give winger Paul Naylor some space to run. He found Crowhurst in support, the full back made an outrageous dummy before touching down near the corner flag.