On a glorious day the Wanderers welcomed Bristol Harlequins to the Towergate Stadium for the first home game of the season. Despite the car park being slightly softer the game was played on the motorway pitch and itproved to be an excellent one.
Just as it was with the Bridgwater match the week before,the game started as a great contest with both teams finding their feet and testing each other out. It was the visitors who hit first with a try from an excellent driving maul following a line out in the Taunton 22, the conversion hit the post but immediately from the restart the visitors went 60 yards and claimed their second try. The conversion was wide.
It was the Wanderers who then got into their stride and following some excellent phase play Matt “Rocky” Watts claimed the first home try of the league season. The conversion was wide but now with both team shaving registered a score the contest improved.
Having played at centre or wing for most of last season Gavin Farley was showing some excellent versatility playing at openside flanker and it was his line break that led to the Wanderers second score. Nathan Whetlor ran a superb supporting line and despite Gavin not passing for most off last season as he registered try after try he drew the full back and sent Nathan in under the posts. Robbie Miller inexplicably chose to make the conversion off the cross bar from 15 yards out and bang in front of the posts,but that made the half time score 12-10 to the Wanderers.
The second half started in a similar way to the first with Harlequins registering an unconverted try, and following an altercation that saw Dan Hinton and the Harlequins blindside flanker both sin binned, eyebrowsamong some were raised when second row Ben “John Eales” Warwicker called for the kicking tee with a penalty 35 yards out. But those in the know hadconfidence as Ben slotted an excellent kick to tie the game u at 15-15.
Both teams were now at full tilt to claim the win and it was the visitors who sealed the game with an excellent converted try. That was followed by the final try of the game shortly after the restart when a long kick through bounced kindly for the chasing winger and the Harlequins rounded off the game with a good score. The conversion was missed and, whilst the final score of 15-27 may not fully represent how close this game was, the visitors were great value for their win and will be a force to be reckoned with this season for sure.
It is hard to single out performances in a team performance as good as it was for the Wanderers – but in the forwards Andrew Farley was back to hitting tackle after tackle with relentless energy and Shane Jordan was superb in both the line out and the loose. In the backs Matt “Rocky” Watts carried the ball well repeatedly and James Devlin marshalled the back line excellently from the wing and cleaned up countless times to put the Wanderers back on the front foot.
The Wanderers are slowly becoming accustomed to life in Somerset 1 and we know that we are very close to this clicking. When it does….we will surprise some teams this season.