The All Golds slipped to a damaging defeat in the first round of the League 1 Shield as the South Wales Ironmen recorded a 28-20 win at Stebonheath Park.
By Patrick Baines, images courtesy of Lewis Mitchell
The Ironmen, who had won only one game all season before this, looked a much improved side and were well worth the win. Before the game the All Golds head coach said his side would have to win all their games if they were to make the League 1 Shield Final, so this defeat may prove to be a costly one. Speaking after the game Lee Greenwood said: “Full credit to South Wales, they were better than us. I’m happy for Phil (Carleton, head coach) because he’s been through a hell of a lot this season, he’s done a tremendous job. There wasn’t a lot between the two teams, we were four points up with ten or so minutes to go but they fought back and you can’t say they didn’t deserve it.
“I thought we were really poor. In spells we did some good things but then we’d undo all our hard work and gift them field position. It’s up to us now as to how we react. South Wales had the outstanding player on the field – Andrew Gay – he was the difference between the two sides.
“It surprises me when people say we should be winning these games comfortably. I know the capabilities of this team, I’ve seen them for three years. We’ve never had an easy game against any of the southern teams. I never came into this game thinking it was going to be comfortable, unfortunately for us a few of our players did and we’ve come unstuck. They’ll learn from it.”
The All Golds broke the deadlock in the thirteenth minute when the returning Brad Kislingbury, fresh from his stint out in Australia playing in the Student World Cup, dived over in the corner. Courtney Davies’ conversion struck the upright.
The Ironmen fought back and were soon ahead. First Curtis Ford went over then Andy Gay, who was named in Wales’ train-on squad for the World Cup, did well to get the ball down with a number of tacklers on him. Ben Jones added the extras to take the home side 10-4 ahead.
The six point lead was reduced to two just before half time when Steve Parry grabbed a try straight from the scrum. Davies failed to add the extra two points.
After winning a penalty early on in the second half the home side opted to go for goal but they missed. From the resulting set Morgan Evans smashed his way over from close range and when Jones converted the Ironmen were 16-8 ahead.
Parry then turned provider as his grubber kick popped up perfectly for Phil Cowburn to touchdown under the sticks. With Courtney Davies off the field of play with a wrist injury Ben Stead took over kicking duty and made no mistake.
Mo Agoro then broke the line and passed to Cowburn who raced deep into the South Wales half. Just as the last covering defender came to tackle him he passed to Joe McClean who sprinted away to score. Stead converted well from the touchline to give the Golden Fern a 20-16 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
But this was South Wales’ day and they finished with two tries in the final ten minutes to get the win. Ben Jones darted over from dummy half and converted his score then Gay’s kick fell perfectly for Shaun Tennant who collected and dived over. Jones converted from out wide to make it an eight point lead and try as they might, the All Golds never looked like getting themselves back in the game.
Jack Uren, Sam Hodge, Morgan Jefferies, Shaun Tennant, Curtis Ford, Ben Jones, Andy Gay, Barrie Phillips, Connor Farrer, Morgan Evans, Connor Parker, Kade Breen, Aaron Lewis
Bench: Daf Phillips, Craig Lewis, Henry Davies, Archie Snook
Tries: Ford (15), Gay (21), Evans (48), Jones (70), Tennant (73)
Goals: Jones 4/6
Phil Cowburn, Mo Agoro, Brad Kislingbury, Lewis Reece, Errol Carter, Courtney Davies, Ben Stead, James Walter, Steve Parry, Harrison Elliott, Chris Worrall, Joe McClean, Billy Brickhill
Bench: Harry Kidd, Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Ross Price, Richard Jones
Tries: Kislingbury (13), Parry (28), Cowburn (59), McClean (65)
Goals: Stead 2/2