Midlands 2 West (N) 
19th October 2019, 3:00 pm
31 - 12
Longton 1st XV
Walsall Rugby Club

Match Report

Longton renewed an old Staffordshire rivalry at Walsall but came out losing by 31 – 12pts., not a bad outcome with the visitors playing without several key players. Big forwards, Gareth Rawlings, Rich Thompson and Eroni Lequai were absent due to work commitments, fly-half, Sam Bedworth, was injured and flying winger, Mark Doughty, was unavailable due to university duties. In addition, the experienced Paul Green, deputising at fly-half, had to go off after 10mins. with an injury and he has been a pivotal figure in the backs this season.
On the artificial turf pitch Walsall got off to the best possible start by scoring after 4mins. They went right from a scrum and with some slick handling out to winger, Taylor, he was able to dive over in the corner, The conversion missed but it was an invaluable 5pt. lead.
Paul Green left the field shortly after with Ben Turner moving to fly-half from full-back.
After 15mins. Walsall second row, Lockett, was yellow carded. Longton immediately went on the attack with No.8, Pete Wilshaw, carrying the ball up the middle in his usual rampaging style but Longton were thwarted right on the home try line with some stout defending. Longton continued to press in the “22” but could not break through a resolute defence.
With 26mins. gone Walsall scored their second try. From a lineout 5m. lineout they but drove over from wide out. The conversion missed but it was a comfortable 10pts. to nil lead.
Longton were ending the half strongly resulting in Walsall centre, Crowhurst, being shown a yellow card for slow release at the breakdown.
In the 5th. minute of time added on Longton scored their first try. From a scrum Nicolas Gomtard whipped the pass away and from outside centre Hamish McIntosh scored a fine try. Joe Hall took over the kicking duties but his well-struck conversion from wide right just went wide, leaving the half-time score 10- 5pts.
From the kick-off Longton won the ball and went left and with some deft ball handling James Mountford plunged over for the second try. Joe Hall, who had a fine match, converted to put Longton ahead by 12 -10pts. However, the lead did not last long when Walsall moved the ball right at pace with some superb handling from their backs to score under the posts with a cut-back inside. The simple conversion made the score 17- 12pts.
With 14mins. gone the home side scored again. One well-timed pass from scrum-half, Evans, produced a try thanks in no small measure to some missed tackling. The conversion was good making it 24 -12pts. and Longton’s task beginning to look like a lost cause. However, they did not give up and for the next 20mins. were on top spending most of the time deep inside the home half but could not quite finish the moves with a score, due mainly to some stout defending by Walsall. As we entered the last 10mins. a scuffle saw Walsall’s, Crowhurst, and Longton’s George Glenn sent to the “cooler” with yellow cards, the former’s second yellow meaning an automatic red card.
With the final minutes approaching Longton went into the home “22” but a dropped pass saw Walsall able to counter as they ran the ball wide left. Aided by several flaying missed tackles Walsall were able to score their final try wide out on the left. The excellent conversion was good making it 31 – 12pts. as the final whistle blew.
Walsall deserved their win for taking their chances whereas Longton were not able to convert the many opportunities they created thanks in the main to some fine defending by the home side. Nevertheless, a battling display from a greatly weakened team.
Joe Hall, Nicolas Gomtard and Pete Wilshaw were the pick of a brave Longton side but great credit to all the squad for their never-say-die attitude.
Next week Longton are at home to Burntwood when they hope to have many of their absentees back.
M. Wheat.