VALLEY COUGARS 42 – 08 ALL GOLDS
Chris Wilson at Nelson RFC
This game was decided in the opening minutes of the second half when the Cougars crossed twice in three minutes to quell a threatened fightback from the All Golds who had scored twice in the last few minutes of the first period to cut an eighteen point deficit to just ten.
However, there were too many errors from the All Golds while in good field position and though they had slightly the better of an even penalty count, those they did concede were generally while they were in good field position or late in the tackle count.
They were also unable to take advantage of a slow and hesitant start by a Cougars side that looked to have had minimal preparation for their first game of the season. As the game went on, the home side began to find their groove and dominate the game, steadily increasing their lead.
Both sides struggled with a strong wind that made restarts something of a lottery on a small pitch and it was no surprise that the game opened with a mistake from the kick off.
The All Golds made it but muscled up in defence to deny the Cougars the ideal start to their league campaign.
The first half was a fairly even contest up to the point of converting opportunities into points at which the Cougars were much more effective. They built an 18-0 lead, which could have been more had Mike Hurley been able to master the strong headwind, missing his first three kicks at goal.
After their uncertain start, the visitors earned good field position and Brandon Lamb went close to opening the scoring however he lost the ball trying to touch down.
The Cougars responded emphatically as Lee Goddard’s kick sat up nicely for Zak Williams to score. Eight minutes later, in their next attack, they doubled their lead. Smart hands on the last tackle sent Shaun Webber over in the corner for the first of a hat-trick of tries.
After the Cougars had gone close again, the All Golds capitalised on a rampaging run by Paul Bolger for Joe Uren to score. However, the try was disallowed for the bizarre reason that the All Golds had 14 men on the field at the time, following miscommunication over a substitution.
The All Golds were well in the game at this point but continued to make errors in promising positions and were punished again as Lewis Willacott broke through and handed on to Williams who put Webber over again.
Ten minutes from the break, Dean Higgs scored from close range and Hurley finally found the mark from the tee.
However, an error from the kick off gave the All Golds a chance from a goalline dropout and this time they took it. On the fourth tackle, Jack Uren exploited some thin defence to skip inside the cover and touch down.
With their next attack they scored again this time a well constructed move on the left featuring Luke Stephens and Jack Uren sent Dale Cooper in for the try.
Just ten points in arrears and having just scored back-to-back tries, the All Golds had their tails up but two quick tries early in the second half gave the Cougars breathing space and they began to pull away to an unassailable lead.
First Willacott skipped past some flailing arms to score and then a neat kick by Shane Lee caused havoc in the All Golds defence, Craig Lewis being first to the loose ball.
By now the Cougars were in the groove and the All Golds were having difficulty creating chances as the game developed into something of a stalemate with the next score taking almost 20 minutes to arrive.
Tom Warner made the initial break and when the ball was spread wide, Anton Ramsey was on hand to score. The final score of the game came with nine minutes remaining. The Cougars’ right edge had caused the All Golds problems all day and Webber stood up Josh Verity and raced over for his hat-trick to seal the win for the Cougars.
COUGARS: Lewis Willacott; Shaun Webber, Zak Williams, Adam Watton, Sam Pridgeon; Shane Lee Lee Goddard; Liam Watton, Dean Higgs, Ryan Davis; Mike Hurley (Capt.)Craig Lewis; Scott Britton; INTERCHANGE: Tom Warner, Anton Ramsey, Anthony Noonan, Dafydd Hellard.
Tries: Williams (6), Webber (14, 23, 71), Higgs (30), Willacott (43), Lewis (46), Ramsey (64)
Goals: Hurley 5 from 8
ALL GOLDS: Jack Uren; Tom Gaffney, Aedon Coleman, James Royle, Kaine Dimech; Joe Uren, Kieran Webb; Mitch Dent, Luke Stephens, Mike Addis; Joe Collins, Ash Lewis (Capt.); Brandon Lamb; INTERCHANGE: Josh Verity, Dale Cooper, Hector Silva, Paul Bolger.
Tries: Jack Uren (33), Cooper (37)
Goals: Lewis 0 from 2
Man of the Match: Luke Stephens
Scoring sequence: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 18-0, 18-4, 18-8, (HT), 24-8, 30-8, 36-8, 42-8, (FT)
Penalty Count: 8-9
Referee: Jamie Jones
IMAGE: The Cougars’ Anton Ramsey is tackled by a group of All Golds players – L to R: Joe Uren, Luke Stephens, Paul Bolger, Mike Addis and Joe Collins (image courtesy Lewis Mitchell Photography, please credit if used)