Wakefield fall foul of Spreadbury's penchant for penalty tries

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Wakefield 21 Gloucester 25

If the International Board had not enshrined the penalty try in law, Tony Spreadbury might well have invented it himself. No one seems to relish the award so theatrically or is so certain of its validity than Spreadbury who, when he is not barking out orders like a sergeant major on the field, insisting that players remain onside, is a paramedic with the Avon Ambulance Service.

It was Spreadbury, you will recall, that awarded Cambridge a contentious penalty try four minutes from time in the 1995 Varsity match which settled the outcome in the Light Blues' favour. Since then, the penalty try has become a blight upon the game.

At College Grove on Saturday, where two years previously Wakefield had beaten Gloucester in the Pilkington Cup, the Cherry and Whites gained their revenge thanks in large part to two penalty tries - one in each half - the second of which was hotly disputed by the home forwards and their coach, Jim Kilfoyle.

"There was no way we were going to collapse that scrum even though they were pushing us," Kilfoyle argued. "It was their loose-head, Tony Windo, who was the culprit. He took it down and a referee of Spreadbury's experience ought to have known better."

To be fair to Spreadbury, he was stationed on Gloucester's tight-head position when the collapse occurred.

Even so, had Gloucester maintained their forward momentum, they may have scored a try in the right corner, making the conversion infinitely more difficult than from in front of the posts. Similarly with the first try.

At 13-6, the game was delicately balanced, even if the heavier Gloucester forwards held the upper hand in the scrap for possession. But at 20-6 and, soon after at 25-9, when Mike Peters crossed in the corner for Gloucester's only undisputed try, Wakefield could but dream of reaching their first semi-final for 21 years.

Two late tries by Mike Jackson, who scored all Wakefield's points, gave a hint of what might have been had the Yorkshiremen had more ball to work with and not encountered a referee at his most eccentrically fallible.

Wakefield: Tries Jackson 2; Conversion Jackson; Penalties Jackson 3. Gloucester: Tries Peters, penalty tries 2; Conversions Mapletoft 2; Penalties Mapletoft 2.

Wakefield: P Massey (P White, 75); A McClarron, P Maynard, I Wynn, R Thompson; M Jackson, D Scully; P Lancaster, T Garnett, R Latham, S Croft (capt), A Bailey (J Griffiths, h-t), P Stewart (A Bailey 75), P Manley, D Hendry.

Gloucester: C Catling; M Peters, D Caskie, M Roberts (C Emmerson, 64), M Lloyd; M Mapletoft (M Kimber, 64), S Benton; T Windo, P Greening, A Deacon, D Sims (capt), R Fidler, P Glanville, N Carter, S Devereux.

Referee: A Spreadbury (Bristol).