VALLEY COUGARS 38 – 20 ALL GOLDS
Chris Wilson at Nelson RFC
Two tries in the last ten minutes by full back George Bvuma gave the Valley Cougars a fright but they had enough points on the board to hold on.
In a feisty game with plenty of needle, the All Golds’ desire to put on a spectacular play rather than take field position and look to build pressure handed their opponents the advantage. Three times they failed to find touch from penalties and twice sent restarts out on the full.
In addition, the visitors were undone by an opening ten minutes in which they had no possession at all and conceded two soft tries. Helped by the rub of the green in the 50-50 decisions the Cougars were allowed to settle and dominate the first period without ever hitting top form.
Leading 24-4 at the break, the scene was set for the Cougars to pull away and record a comfortable win. However, the All Golds rallied in the second half, outscoring their opponents and putting in a much stronger performance.
The highlight was Bvuma’s double as he put in a committed performance adding a try-saving tackle on a runaway Lee Goddard to his dangerous forays forward.
The Cougars benefitted from a penalty on their first set and then a generous call against the All Golds as they bundled Mike Hurley into touch to gain the field position for Craig Lewis to score.
The All Golds put the restart out on the full over an incredibly small in-goal area and Dean Higgs forced his way over for a try immediately afterwards.
The restart was booted out of play again but the Cougars could not capitalise and handed over possession cheaply.
With the ball finally in their hands the All Golds went upfield and earned a penalty that led to Jack Uren scrambling over out wide.
After the somewhat frenetic start, the game then settled down until Hurley’s break ended in a try for Ben Jones with 23 minutes gone.
After Ash Lewis had pushed a penalty kick wide, the Cougars increased their lead with the last play of the half.
The All Golds tried a trick play on a penalty which backfired as the kick intended for Bvuma fell to the Cougars and prop Lloyd Selby showed remarkable skill and dexterity to evade tacklers and score in the corner.
The All Golds emerged from their half-time huddle with renewed purpose and were soon on the board. Their first set saw them superbly construct an opportunity for Kaine Dimech but he could not reel in the pass when sent through an inviting gap in the Cougars defence.
Seven minutes into the half, Marcus Brown saw the Cougars’ defence asleep, took a quick tap penalty 15 metres out and ran through to score untouched. Lewis added the goal.
However, Sam Pridgeon went over after good work from Macauley Harris and Adam Watton stepped through to score to ease the Cougars out to 34-10.
In the last ten minutes, Bvuma struck twice with Brown and Jack Uren providing the telling passes for the winger to use his pace and score both times without a hand laid on him. In between times, he chased and caught Goddard who looked certain to score, forcing the ball loose in the tackle.
However, the Cougars had the last word. In the final minute, the All Golds’ last attack fizzled out immediately when a penalty failed to find touch and a sweeping Cougars move ended with Harris going over in the corner.
Hurley couldn’t convert but there was no time to restart and the Cougars maintained their unbeaten record at the top of the table.
COUGARS: Shaun Webber; Sam Pridgeon, Liam Watton, Adam Watton, Ben Pinnock; Ben Jones, Shane Lee; Lloyd Selby, Dean Higgs, Kieron Lewis; Anton Ramsey, Mike Hurley (Capt.); Macauley Harris; INTERCHANGE: Charlie Bodman, Rhodri Evans, Lee Goddard, Craig Lewis
Tries: C. Lewis (3), Higgs (6), Jones (23), Selby (39), Pridgeon (50), A. Watton (62), Harris (79)
Goals: Hurley 5 from 7
ALL GOLDS: George Bvuma; Tom Gaffney, Kaine Dimech, Marcus Brown, James Royle; Kieran Webb, Joe Uren; Mike Addis, Jack Uren, Paul Bolger; Ash Lewis (Capt.), Sam Jones; Dale Cooper; INTERCHANGE: Dean Cooper, Hector Silva, Kieran Harvey, Kirk Lewis.
Tries: Jack Uren (11), Brown (47), Bvuma (70, 74)
Goals: Ash Lewis 2 from 4, Joe Uren 0 from 1
All Golds Man of the Match: George Bvuma
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 12-4, 18-4, 24-4, (HT), 24-10, 28-10, 34-10, 34-14, 34-20, 38-20, (FT)
Penalty Count: 4-12
Referee: Ian Curzon
IMAGE: George Bvuma rounded up by the Cougars defence (image courtesy Lewis Mitchell Photography)