It was Veseyans who came out on top in the first league meeting between these two local rivals as the home side ran out 21-20 winners in a hard fought encounter.
Walsall have historically been the strongest rugby side in the area but have had a tough run in recent years, where Veseyans have grown and strengthened throughout the club, the two sides now both plying their trade in the same league for the first time.
The away side were the first to get on the score board after a turnover at a scrum led to a break down the left, the ball was kicked ahead by the scrum half and the Walsall left wing won the race to dot the ball down. The V’s worked hard to build themselves into the game from this point and despite missing a kick at goal were the next to register a score as Full Back Harry Griffiths went over in the corner despite having to juggle the ball behind his back as he went over the line. Griffiths added the extras himself to make the score 7-7.
The remainder of the first half was very equal with both sides looking to gain advantage from territorial kicking in the wet conditions. While Walsall had the upper hand at scrum time, it was the home side who looked likely to score with a prolonged period in the opposition 22 coming to nothing as multiple driving mauls were repelled and the two sides went in level at the break.
Within the first couple of minutes after half time Walsall saw their scrum half sent to the sin bin, whilst Veseyans also lost their scrum half, Will Slattery who misplaced his front teeth somewhere around the 5m line.
Veseyans were to get the first points of the second half after Walsall’s defence got too narrow defending a driving maul and wing Will Cheneler went over on the left side, again Griffiths converted. It was Walsall’s turn to build themselves back into the game, and they focused their intent around their heavily dominant scrum, first taking 3 points from in front of the post, and then striking immediately with a clean line break from the kick off, the home side immediately under pressure on their own line again, the result being a penalty try and the score was 14-17.
Another penalty looked to have pushed the game out of Veseyans reach but the home side were not done. In almost a carbon copy score to their second Veseyans were dominant in their driving game and the Walsall defence got far too narrow, Griffiths this time putting Joe Williams over in the exact same place as he had previously released Cheneler. With only a minute on the clock, Griffiths slotted the conversion to give his side a one point lead.
A tense finish was to follow as Veseyans defence stood strong on the half way line for multiple phases, refusing to concede ground but finally infringing at the breakdown providing Walsall a long range opportunity to win the game but they were unable to convert and the game finished 21-20. An extremely tight and even affair with both teams asserting dominance in different areas of the match, a cracking game surely awaits in the return fixture but for now Veseyans will be extremely happy with their victory.