This was the classic cup hangover game and with coach Axel Rees resting several players before the crucial game against Abercwmboi next Thursday, a good win was needed to raise moral and make up for the disappointment of the Caerphilly game. In keeping with the recent losses, there was a minute’s silence prior to the kick off in memory of Lloyd Williams, Malcolm Thomas and most recently Ifor Jenkins - RIP gentlemen, you made huge contributions to rugby generally, Taff’s Well RFC and the village of Taff’s Well itself.
The home side were to get away to a flier as recently signed and Taff’s Well youth product Nick Hill threw out a lovely pass from outside-half to enable right wing Ronan Barrett to split the Ynys’ defence and pass back inside to allow left wing Gavin Close to stroll in under the posts for full-back Tom Benjamin to convert. Sniffing an open encounter, the home side showed their intent by trying to up the tempo but the following 10 minutes was to become a scrappy affair which eventually resulted in Ynys’ scrum-half Jack George bamboozling the home defence with a mazy run but with the open line in his sights and support outside, he couldn’t quite keep his pass lateral as Nantymoel referee Rob Clemett blew his whistle for a forward pass.
The ‘Well backline were always looked threatening with ball in hand but were guilty throughout the game of overcooking the pudding by holding on a couple of steps too many after splitting the visitors defence when the ball should have been shipped and it took a mistake in the shape of a loose kick to wingman Gavin Close to get the scoreboard moving again. Gathering from outside his own 22, he set-off to tee-up full-back Benjamin who sprinted 50m to outflank the cover and cross under the posts to convert himself and give a comfortable looking 14-0 lead. You started to sense that the flood gates were about to open but there followed a procession of knock-ons and forward passes when there seemed to be a certainty of a try which lead to a very frustrating 20 minute period before centre Jack Shaddick broke through to feed Barrett who stretched the beleaguered defence to feed back inside to centre Martin Detorres to cross for a fine try with the conversion going wide.
The frustration was to continue as the Close-Barrett combo combined to put the latter over in the corner but the former was adjudged to have ‘kissed’ the touchline and the try ruled out. Another good move put Close away but he couldn’t quite hold on with the line at his mercy as could not 48 yr old prop John Davies making his 100th appearance for Taff’s Well proving his eyesight was better than his juggling skills as he picked out an interception with the posts beckoning to be let down by the length of his finger nails. Another Ynys’ mistake was to see Barrett set off on a thrilling kick and chase which saw the visitors conceding a 5m scrum as the ball was kicked dead – No8 Max Watkins profiting from a an eight man drive as he picked up and powered over from close-up to take the half-time to score to 24-0 as the two linesmen disagreed with the success of the conversion, Rob Clemett siding with the visitors. A strange half in many ways with Taff’s Well having a healthy lead but having 4-5 tries go begging through a mixture of passing errors, knock-ons and over-running.
First half score: Taff’s Well 1st XV 24 v 0 Ynysowen
Yep, as you probably would have guessed, the second started with another certain try going begging through a forward pass which subsequently saw Ynys’ play their ace card in the shape of 27 stone prop Richard ‘Rhino’ Powell who certainly brought a different complexion to the game as the visitors retreating scrum started to gain parity and then get on the front foot. The visitors were now starting to get into the game and period of pressure followed by some good interplay saw second-row Jake Hurley burst over to give outside-half Gavin Watham a straightforward conversion and a well-deserved 7 pointer. The visitors were to suffer a blow in the shape of influential outside-half Wathan leaving the field as a result of a nasty collision but the visitors were starting to gain a bit of confidence and were looking the more likely to score especially after being awarded a succession of penalties close to the home line but a resolute defence saw the ball pilfered and fed along to Gavin Close who set off up the touchline to take the danger away. From the resultant series of phases, outside-half Hill fired out another lovely pass to again bring in Close who in turn fed flanker Rhys Watkins who took a hit for his team in order to slip a fine pass back inside to full-back Benjamin steaming up on his right to cross over in the left-hand corner for another fine effort bagging another two points for his efforts to take the score to 31-7.
This, you would have thought, would have broken the back of any thoughts of an Ynys’ comeback but due credit to the visitors who set up a series of powerful scrums and subsequent penalties near to the home line for referee Clemett to lose his patience and award a glaring penalty try to close the scoreline to 31-14. Back came the Wellman who set up camp in Ynys’ territory and despite some tenacious defence, a series of penalties and drives enabled the forwards to inch their way towards the line for hooker ‘Chimpy’ Desmier to peel and barge through a tired looking rear guard and increase the score to 36-14 with the conversion going wide. As the game headed to its conclusion, Tom Benjamin showed his credentials for an episode of Strictly Come Dancing with a lovely display of pirouetting feet as he completely lost his surrounding pursuers to slip a pass to centre Shaddick who strode off to complete the scoring sequences with another good try to end the game at 41-14.
Final Score: Taff’s Well 1st XV 41 v 14 Ynysowen
A good win was vital after the exit from the Bowl as Taff’s Well’s season will surely be measured by the upcoming games against the teams above them in the league but although the scoreline shows a return of seven tries, the coaches will be disappointed with the inability to put away teams below them when they look beaten. It would be very disrespectful to a gallant Ynysowen outfit to suggest that a scoreline of 60 or 70 would have been more fitting as they refused to give up and battled to the end but you just had the feeling that if only the ball went to hand and the back three were able to gain benefit from initial breaks which should have seen the ball go wide earlier, the score could/should have been significantly more.
For Ynysowen, scrum-half Jack George did his best to be thorn in the Taff’s Well side and his half-back partner Gavin Watson gave him able support. Try scorer and second-row Jake Hurley had just rewards for his efforts in the shape of a try and prop Neil Jones competed all afternoon in side that can hold their heads high after refusing to lie down when a rout seemed on the cards.
For Taff’s Well, there was probably more promise than was actually delivered as the back three of Gavin Close, Ronan Barrett and Tom Benjamin looked a class above their counterparts as a unit on the day, if only we could get them into the game more and the ball would stick… Nick Hill at outside-half brought some nice balance to proceedings and 18yr old centre Jack Shaddick continues to show much promise behind an honest effort from the forwards who delivered a solid platform from which the backs could work from with no one really standing out although honourable mentions for John Davies who must have had nightmares last after tangling with ‘Rhino’ in the second-half scrums – rather you than me John; fellow prop Ben Atkins and a nice little cameo effort towards the end for Rhys ‘Beanie’ Green entering the fray after a long lay-off through a shoulder injury. Nice also to see an official who referees with a bit of personality so nice one Rob.
All eyes next week will be on the Thursday encounter with Abercwmboi where the bragging rights are three home wins for Taff’s Well and two home wins for Abercwmboi in the recent saga, it’ll be belter so make sure you’re there to lend support in what’s sure to be a white hot affair.
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Dave Beese firstname.lastname@example.org
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