South Wales Ironmen 10 Whitehaven 27

Whitehaven were made to work hard for a 27-10 win over South Wales Ironmen, played in poor conditions in the Welsh valleys.

Disadvantaged by two sin-binnings in the second half, Whitehaven did well not only to hold on, but to score three additional points near the end to cement the victory.

They took just 70 seconds to take the lead. After winning a scrum on the half-way line, Steven Roper was given too much space to run the ball home. Paul Crook converted.

Roper combined with Crook for their second try of the game, which came on 24 minutes, one half-back opening up a gap for the other, with Crook making a clean break for the final 25 metres before converting himself.

That score came after a period of unsustainability for both sides as handling errors had ruled the game for 20 minutes before that.

The 4G pitch ensured that the game was on, but after constant rain for an hour or two pre-game, the wet surface hadn’t helped the players’ ball-handling skills. There were 22 scrums in the game, 17 first half alone, of which 10 were awarded to Whitehaven.

Ironmen had their chances to score before the interval, substitute hooker Connor Farrer was close, getting stopped centimetres from the line just after the half hour, but Haven went into the sheds two tries to the good at the break.

Whitehaven scored their third just five minutes after returning to the pitch. Following a repeat set, Glenn Riley twisted his way over and Crook converted again.

It was not long before their fourth. Elliott Miller made a clean break on the left centre and nicely set up Jordan Burns, who ran unchallenged to the line. Crook’s conversion went in off the post to make it 24-0.

Haven’s defence was also excelling, forcing South Wales to drop the ball near the line as the home side started to take control and were looking for a try back.

Ironmen continued to attack. Paul Emanuelli’s grubber was picked up well by James Newton, but on the next play, his fellow Welsh international Morgan Evans found a gap and took full advantage with Emanuelli converting.

Following the first yellow card - Elliot Miller going off for foul play, South Wales immediately took advantage.

Andy Gay was stopped short of the line before Yannic Parker went over in the corner. Emanuelli’s conversion attempt slipped wide.

It could have got a lot worse for Whitehaven after James Tilley was given 10 minutes for a high tackle. This led to confusion as it looked at first that was he refusing to go.

After a long, loud discussion with touch-judge, James Jones, the referee was informed that he had got it wrong and that Lewis Brown was the culprit instead.

Playing 11 against 13 and deciding to go without wingers, Jordan Burns moved into the centre and his first act was to perform a try-saving tackle on Parker, one of the most crucial events of the game for Haven.

Possession football was the order of the day for Whitehaven to see the game out with Crook adding a penalty and drop goal in the last ten minutes to secure in the end what was an uneasy victory.

South Wales: Gay, Parker, Reece, Roets, Edwards, Owens, Emanuelli, I’Anson, Baller, Evans, Parker, Williams, Bateman

Subs (all used): Davies, Farrer, Jones, Vitalini

Tries: Evans (60), Parker (65)

Goals: Emanuelli 1/2

Haven: Miller, Burns, Thompson, Taylor, Pattinson, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Newton, Holland, Holliday, McAvoy, Forster

Subs: Tilley, Dalton, Riley, Brown

Tries: Roper (2), Crook (24), Riley (45), Miller (48)

Goals: Crook 5/5

Drop Goal: Crook

Referee: Greg Dolan

Half-time: 0-12

Attendance: 223

Penalty Count: 8-9

Star Man: Paul Crook