Wolfpack overcome stern resistance from Thunder
DAN FOWLER, Kingston Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
TORONTO WOLFPACK continued their unbeaten start to Kingstone Press League 1 with their sixth successive league victory, this time over Newcastle Thunder.
But they didn’t have everything their own way.
Welcoming back to their side the experienced trio of Fuifui Moimoi, Ryan Bailey and Quentin Lolau-Togagae, the Wolfpack might have expected another easy ride against a team in the middle of the table.
But Newcastle are an ambitious club representing a proud city, and they gave the Wolfpack a stern test that will serve them in good stead as they prepare to face unbeaten Barrow Raiders next Saturday.
Toronto built up a comfortable 28-4 half-time lead but Newcastle were revitalised in the second half, outscoring their visitors 18-12.
Thunder began the brighter, with some solid defence and promise in attack, with lively stand-off Lewis Young, who was dangerous all night, trying an ambitious chip and chase to no avail.
From the following set, however, Toronto broke the deadlock through their recent signing Ryan Brierley, who aimed a deft grubber kick into the in-goal that he followed up to touch down.
Minutes later they doubled their lead as they showed fast hands to dismantle the Thunder midfield, leaving Blake Wallace to scythe through a big gap before scooting around Jared Simpson with captain Craig Hall adding his second conversion.
The hosts were next on the scoresheet with arguably the try of the game and it was down to the work of their experienced centre Derrell Olpherts, who managed to wriggle through the defence before putting a kick into the corner that sat up perfectly for Zach Clark to touch down. The touchline conversion from Benn Hardcastle was off target but at 4-12 down, the home supporters were feeling optimistic.
Newcastle kept applying the pressure but Liam Kay’s interception when the Tyneside outfit might have been over for a second score eased the pressure for the Wolfpack.
But as the half wore on, three tries in quick succession secure the outcome for the Wolfpack.
Jonny Pownall squeezed over in the corner to extend their advantage before Liam Kay and Quentin Laulu-Togagae also broke through with Hall adding the latter two conversions to make the score 4-28 at the break.
Thunder had not thrown in the towel, however, and they grabbed a deserved second try at the start of the second half as Danny Nicklas touched down from dummy-half and Hardcastle slotted over the conversion.
Toronto kept their foot on the pedal, however, as Kay laid on a try for experienced hooker Bob Beswick. Hall’s conversion restored the margin to 24 points.
As the game entered its final quarter the Wolfpack might have expected to run away with the game because of their superior fitness, but that didn’t happen and a number of errors began to creep into their game.
Newcastle notched a third try through enterprising play by Young, who had saved a certain four-pointer from a breakaway by Kay at the other end of the field a few minutes earlier. He broke through the defence and put the burners on to get past Laulu-Togagae and Hardcastle converted to make it 16-34 on 72 minutes.
And Thunder kept coming, even though the game was all but over.
They scored their fourth try, this time when Evan Simons sniped over from dummy-half near to the Wolfpack line and Hardcastle converted once again to reduce the gap to twelve points.
Toronto ended a disappointing second half with the final try of the game and the second by Brierley, who supported a break from Adam Sidlow, with Hall’s conversion on the final hooter the final score of the match.
GAMESTAR: Lewis Young had a terrific game in attack and defence for the home side, typifying the Thunder performance with his enthusiasm and determination.
GAMEBREAKER: Quentin Laulu-Togagae’s try before half-time extinguished any hope of a Thunder comeback, although they certainly gave it a go.
Team Lineup & Match Stats
1 Jared Simpson
2 Ali Blair
4 Joe Brown
3 Derrell Olpherts
5 Zach Clark
6 Lewis Young
7 Benn Hardcastle
8 Vincent Rennie
9 Evan Simons
16 Sam Luckley
12 Dan Parker
10 Rhys Clarke
13 Liam McAvoy
Subs (all used):
14 Danny Nicklas
18 Brett Waller
15 George Milton
17 Matty Barron
Tries: Clark (22), Nicklas (47), Young (68), Simons (74)
Goals: Hardcastle 3/4
1 Craig Hall
5 Jonny Pownall
3 Greg Worthington
20 Quentin Laulu-Togagae
24 Liam Kay
6 Blake Wallace
7 Ryan Brierley
8 Fuifui Moimoi
9 Bob Beswick
10 Jake Emmitt
22 Shaun Pick
12 Adam Sidlow
21 Richard Whiting
Subs (all used):
14 Steve Crossley
11 Ryan Bailey
17 Sean Penkywicz
28 Gary Wheeler
Tries: Brierley (6, 79), Wallace (12), Pownall (27), Kay (31), Laulu-Togagae (33), Beswick (53)
Goals: Hall 6/7
League Express Men of the Match:
Thunder: Lewis Young
Wolfpack: Ryan Brierley
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 0-12, 4-12, 4-16, 4-22, 4-28; 10-28, 10-34, 16-34, 22-34, 22-40.