Week 3 - Wildcats win shoot-out after Dragons roar into life
Reading and Cardiff threatened to smash the heart monitors as they delivered a pulsating battle for Prem supremacy in a high tempo clash.
The heart-stopping action roared from end to end with first the Wildcats dominate only for the Welsh dragons to mount a scorching comeback.
Reading triumphed 11-10 with Dave Mosley settling it with his fifth of the day to break Cardiff’s spirited resistance.
East Grinstead won another close encounter, beating Hitchin 11-8 in Sussex while Spencer cruised to a 19-2 victory over a depleted Bristol Bombers side.
Reading were irresistible in the first quarter, blazing out to a 5-1 lead and then pushing it to 8-2 before the visitors reorganised and came storming back scoring seven to the Wildcats 1. Going into the final quarter, Reading held a 9-8 lead but Cardiff twice levelled it before Mosley delivered the knockout blow.
“It was a pretty ridiculous game. We came out the blocks as our offense finally clicked storming to a 5-1 lead in by far the best quarter of our season so far,” said Reading skipper Paul Milner
“It was a nightmare 3rd quarter and by the end of it our lead was a slim 9-8. The 4th was back and forth with neither team giving an inch. Cardiff pulled it back to 9-9 before a rare second half mistake from their defence allowed us to pick up a rebound and take the lead again.
“Again they tied it up before, with only a couple of minutes remaining, great hustle by our attack managed to keep the ball in play and result in Dave Mosley scoring his 5th of the game in what was a break out performance for him.”
Cardiff were playing with a completely different back three to their opening day success at Purely and they struggled to settle until captain Ceri Hill switched systems at half time which paid instant dividends by forcing errors into Reading’s game.
“We started to control the ball and creating chances to slowly chip away at their lead. Our defence made interception after interception and Reading only managed their next 2 goals in transition play.
With 5 mins to go it was 10 – 10 and we were confident we could take the win. Reading managed to grab a goal and then up the other end while trying to tie it back up we missed a 1 on 1 chance in the last minute.”
Dan Thomas was instrumental in the fightback with key assists while Reading keeper Liman Metolli earned his team’s Man of the Match credits for a string of excellent saves when the result was on the line
Milner, who scored twice along with Will Stott, believes the victory is a turning point for the season after last week’s draw with Bristol.
“We were determined not to let it end that way again and I was as impressed with the fight we showed at the end as I was with how we played in the first half. 2 different facets of our game but both lead to the win.”
EG’s clash with Hitchin saw an intriguing tussle at the face-off X between the visitors captain and Wales stand-out Rhod Stanford and Tomos Rosser, the Loughborough student pushing for slot in the Dragons line-up.
“It was a really good game and we knew it was going to be a battle,” said EG captain Andy Price. “The face-off was hotly contested between Tomo and Rhodri.
“We controlled the ball well in attack and held possession for long periods of the game, making plenty of chances. Hitchin capitalised more when they had the ball but we were able to stay ahead linking some nice goals together, with 8 out of 10 goals assisted, not a common stat for EG!”
Luke Mills, another off the Loughborough Uni production line, lead the way with four goals, while Jack Foster grabbed two and Rosser, Muz Tuach, George Punter and the wiley Chris White all getting on the scoresheet.
Spencer, in only their 2nd game of the campaign, breezed to a comfortable 19-2 win over Bristol, who had players absent preparing for a marathon the next day.
Bristol graduate Nick Acute marked his Spencer debut with a faultless face-off performance and Tom Roach scored a hat-trick from LSM. The goal machines of Rob Holmes and Joe Darkins, plundered six and seven goals respectively.
“Full credit to Bristol for making the trip with only 11 players and it was tighter than the scoreline suggested,” said co-captain Darkins. “Bristol played really well.
“Defensively we were really solid as a unit with Tom Leahy marshalling from defence and Nick was excellent as one of four first team debutants.”
“Because of injuries and the marathon, we only 1 LSM sub and a weakened middle and defence with keeper Bob Chapman still out,” said captain Pete Wilson. “With limited players our fitness just couldn't cut it and we were completely gassed basically at the end of the 1st quarter.
“We struggled and in the 3rd and 4th quarter Spencer just took advantage of our tiredness and worked the ball nicely between them to get goal after goal. Their team play was excellent - always making the extra pass to get their team mates a goal. It's been really frustrating for us as we are yet to put out a full strength squad which I know has huge potential.”
This week’s sees Hampstead and Blues back in action with the Men in Black on the train track to Purley and the Banstead boys welcoming the improving EG in what should be a tight one.
Hitchin and Spencer head west with the wounded Hertfordshire club due at Bristol and the champions crossing into Wales to face Cardiff.
East Grinstead 10 - 8 Hitchin
Reading 11 - 10 Harlequins
Spencer 19 - 2 Bristol Bombers
Bristol Bombers v Hitchin
Cardiff v Spencer
Purley v Hampstead
Blues v East Grinstead