Walsall Struggle to Score in Local Derby
Walsall 13 Wolverhampton 24
The Walsall players and management will be very disappointed with this latest defeat. They produced a sterling performance when facing the wind during the first half, restricting their opponents to a 12 – 3 advantage. They closed to just four points with still over ten minutes left to play. But during the final minutes, their West Midlands neighbours, took advantage of their opponents’ errors and lack of discipline, securing their bonus point try with virtually the final play of the game.
It was the hosts that made the most positive start and were soon pressing deep in their opponent’s territory. But, as so often this season, they failed to retain possession at crucial moments, and possible scoring opportunities were missed. Wolverhampton, in contrast, showed great confidence in running with the ball from any situation. They scored the first try just after ten minutes, as they ran and passed the ball after gaining lineout possession deep in their own half. Tackles were missed as a sweeping attack resulted in Fereday going over for the score. Walsall were quick to respond and a Hal Gozukucuk run resulted in a penalty which Roger Weston converted from thirty meters. The hosts, however, were dealt another injury blow just five minutes later as centre Rob Angell was forced to leave the field. Wolves soon added to their score as some strong running and passing resulted in centre Smailes cutting through for the touchdown which Barnes converted. Walsall defended well and must have been pleased to reach the interval with just a nine point deficit. They would have realised that they had the benefit of the strong breeze during the second period. They then,had the ideal start, as early pressure resulted in another Weston thirty meter penalty kick. However, from then on, the hosts were finding themselves being regularly penalised in most contact situations. This resulted in Wolverhampton being able to secure good attacking positions. Once they got close to the Walsall line, they produced several powerful drives from close range before flanker Mark Evans squeezed over near the corner flag. Walsall continued to pose a threat and they had several periods of possession deep in Wolves territory. Eventually, No8 Gozukucuk, burst through the defence after a close range scrum. Weston then put over an excellent touchline conversion. This set up a tense finish with the hosts threatening to secure the vital winning score. They established good attacking positions and should have made the breakthrough. They faced a strong defence, but they were guilty of a lack of concentration and teamwork at crucial times. They then conceded penalties, which resulted in a yellow card and with only a minute left to play No8 McMahon went over after several drives from close range. Fly half Barnes added the conversion to complete the scoring and leave Walsall ruing the scoring opportunities that they wasted.