A gritty defensive display and a keener eye in attack were the keys to Wolverhampton Wizards' victory over Birmingham Bulldogs in the Totalrl.com Rugby League Conference West Midlands division.
Wizards came into the game looking for a vast improvement from the previous weekends defeat at Leicester, while Birmingham were looking for their first win of the season following defeats at Leicester and Coventry.
It was Birmingham who opened the scoring after Ian Dawes found the Wizards defence napping and put Dominic Birchall through to score at the corner.
After coming close to equalising when Steve Timmins, in his first game back after injury, knocked on with the line in sight, Wizards were able to draw level after Graham Shelley went over following a quick pass by Mark Austin from a penalty after a number of infringements by Birmingham.
Following Shelley's try, Wizards started to threaten more in attack and, after Craig Goodall was held up near the line, scored a spectacular second when Wizards debutant Robert Bowdler sent a high kick over to Timmins on the wing and Timmins stepped his opposite number to score in the corner.
Wizards were starting to dominate in defence, with Wizards Head Coach Stuart Bennett, in his first game for the club, and Wizards Stalwart Russell Ashley, in particular, putting in the hardest hits and constantly forcing turnovers and errors from the Bulldog attack.
After Birmingham's Anthony Williams was Sin binned by referee Bob Smithies for violent conduct following a confrontation with Shelley, Wizards were able to get a score as Halftime approached when Austin scored his sixth try in five games with a trademark dive over from Dummy Half after another powerful running display from Pete Reynolds.
The second half started with Bowdler kicking the ball straight out from the kick off. After a short spell defending, Wizards were able to break through and Bowdler was able to make up for his earlier error as he scored his first try for the club after being put through from another Goodall run.
With Wizards starting to dominate again in defence and finding space in attack, another try was inevitable and came when Reynolds forced his way through following another penalty against a Birmingham defence struggling to cope with Wizards threat in attack, although Wizards did suffer a double blow as both Robert Clifton and Chris Jones were forced off with injuries, Jones with a knee injury, Clifton with a Collar Bone injury.
As the half wore on and as the weather started to deteriorate, handling errors started to come from both sides as the ball became harder to handle. Wizards started to dominate in the scrums and, as in previous games, stole several Birmingham scrums and continued to put pressure on.
The pressure finally told as Bowdler went over for his second try after breaking several half tackles and, despite conceding a second try to Birchall, who went over from dummy half following a strong run by Dawes, rounded off the scoring with Gareth Nicholas scoring his first try for the club when he picked up a loose ball and ran through to score under the posts.
Wizards next game is Away against Coventry Bears at Old Coventrians RFC in the Totalrl.com Rugby League Conference West Midlands Division on 28/5/05 with kick off at 2.30pm. For more information about the game, how to get to Coventry, and about the Wizards in general, see www. wolverhamptonwiz ards.co.uk