Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 41 - 16 Llandaff RFC | 1st Team
Rhys Watkins
Try 1
Bradley Dean James
Try 1
Deri Anthony Vaughan
Try 1
Christopher Tottle
Try 2
Brandon Thrasher
Conversion 3
John Stephens
Try 1

Match Report
29 April 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Go Back On Top With 41 – 16 Victory Over Llandaff

Today’s game represented contrasting fortunes for two clubs steeped in history – Taff’s Well desperate for a bonus-point win to keep their eye on promotion and Llandaff needing several permit players to help give them a victory that would offer any hope of staving off relegation. The game was to be a testament to the grit of both sides as they sought to influence their own destinies and to be fair, there wasn’t much left out on the pitch after the whistle.

Dream Start

The opening shots were fired by the visitors as they secured early possession but a thundering tackle from skipper Lewis Edwards playing in an unaccustomed position at No. 8 led to a penalty and a lineout in the Llandaff 20. With a good take and drive which has developed into a well-oiled machine over the course of the season, hooker Bradley James did his impression of a chameleon blending into the maul to emerge with a burst of speed and scamper over for a dream start to the proceedings. A Brandon Thrasher conversion meant that Roger Watkins was prodded into early action on the scoreboard as he was required to put up the obligatory seven points.

Mighty Scrum but Llandaff Fight Back

With props Deri Vaughan and Lloyd James in fine form, the Taff’s Well scrum was having a productive day by putting the visitors in all kinds of bother but Llandaff No.8 Mike O’Connor did a miraculous job throughout the match by somehow getting the ball away under incredible pressure. If you thought that the floodgates were about to open then you would have been wrong as Llandaff rolled up their sleeves to contest the breakdown aggressively which saw centre Jake Englis scythe through a lacklustre to put them back on even terms thanks to full-back Ieaun Turner’s conversion.

White Line Fever

One of the disappointing features of the first half for the hosts was the quality of handling which was to surface 1m out after winning a penalty from a huge shove in the scrum. With no clear plan, the ball was taken quickly with the visitors on the back foot only for the ball to be knocked on and the opportunity spurned. With Taff’s Well struggling to get any fluidity, it would be Llandaff who would take the lead through a Turner penalty which proved that Taff’s Well were going to have to earn any a result.

Quick Double Whammy

From the re-start, winger Ronan Barrett show his electric pace by following up to apply pressure and doing well to retrieve possession. With the Llandaff defence on the retreat, Gwilym Edwards spun out the pass which found hooker Bradley James who in turn teed up flanker Justin Jones to dive in the corner to retain the lead at 12-10 with the missed conversion.  More good news was on the way for the Wellmen as a penalty won attacking lineout 20m saw flanker Rhys Watkins gain possession and storm through the gap to race away and touch down with the conversion again going wide.

Llandaff Hit Back

With three tries on the board and within sight of another try bonus point, you would have been forgiven for thinking that this was starting to look comfortable but in reality, Llandaff were feeding off the Taff’s Well errors and on balance, were getting the better of both the possession and territory stats. As Taff’s Well found themselves on the back-foot, Bradley James earned the ire of the referee to spend 10 minutes on the touchline with Turner again profiting from the resulting penalty to bring the margin to within four points.

Missed Tackles

Taff’s Well are a difficult side to score against out wide but there was definitely a lack of edge to the defence as the home side struggled with the strong running of full-back Turner especially. With half-time approaching, Llandaff were again to get in the shadow of the home posts to earn another penalty for Turner who duly converted to bring the score-line to a difference of one. As I pointed out last week, Taff’s Well have done exceedingly well in dealing with the lack of numbers from yellow cards and there was an impressive showing from the home eight as they put on a seven-man shove in the scrum to wreck another Llandaff platform and see out the half.

Half-Time Score:   Taff’s Well 17 – 16 Llandaff

Second Half

There was everything to play for as both sides were 40 minutes away from getting the points they so desperately needed albeit for different reasons, and on the evidence of the first half, Llandaff had no thoughts of going anywhere without fighting. Taff’s Well were soon on the attack setting up a lineout from a penalty 10m out. With great ball off the top and some crisp handling, the backs swept the ball along the line at pace for wingman Ronan Barrett to pass back inside to full-back Chris Tottle who accelerated away to cross for a splendid effort which was duly converted by Thrasher for a 24- 16 scoreline.

Second Yellow

Just when it looked like the show was back on the road, replacement No.8 Max Watkins name went into the refs little book for an involuntary 10-minute stint on the sidelines but again the side rose to challenge to fill the gap. Gwilym Edwards scooped up a ball from the back of another powerful scrum to go wide but a mix-up in communication saw Rhys Watkins unable to keep hold of a pass as another try beckoned. Back on the attack, the home side found itself on the front foot thanks to charges by Justin Jones and second-row Jon Barry which eventually saw prop Deri Vaughan hurtling for the corner to be met with a very brave tackle from probably the smallest player on the field which was enough to edge the big guy into touch but not without paying the price with and taking a nasty knock

Upping the Pace

Taff’s Well were starting to go about their business with more purpose thanks in no small part to the introduction of the bench which has slowly been developing in strength over the last couple of weeks with telling effect. Wingman Barrett used his pace again to split the defence which saw Taff’s Well set up camp 5m out which sucked in the Llandaff defence leaving them short out wide.

Moment of the Season

It suddenly became apparent that the Taff’s Well backline consisted of a flanker and the whole front row (including prop Lloyd James who was now playing hooker) with prop Deri Vaughan standing on the wing desperately waving his hands as if to say ‘Can’t you see I’m free for a walk-in?”. In normal circumstances, any scrum-half worth his salt would take one look outside and duly take the ball back into contact but perhaps Gwilym Edwards knew something we didn’t. Without a second thought, he passed to flanker Watkins who fed James who fed prop Gareth Gibbs who in turn sent out an unselfish pass to Deri Vaughan who steamed over the line wide out with one arm in the air as a salute to the delight of the large crowd and even a smile from some of the Llandaff supporters. Great execution, great heads-up rugby and a demonstration of some old-style French-esque passing which ended up with three props showing some swagger and a wink to the backs as to how it should be done – a wonderful moment.

Llandaff Run Everything

With a young looking side, you had to give credit to Llandaff as they were fighting for their lives right up to the end and trying to run the ball at every opportunity but Taff’s Well were in the groove and in no mood to ship any more points.  Another sweeping move saw the ball move through the hands for Tottle to break the defence with only the fullback to beat and centre Ryan Smith to one side and wingman Barrett on the other but the inside pass to Barrett met the hands of a retiring defender as an intercept and who gratefully booted the ball downfield.

Closing the Game Out

With time ebbing away and another penalty won for another demolition job at scrum-time, the option to scrum again laid the platform for the backs to again show what they can when a killer miss-pass found full-back Tottle again breaking the line at speed to dissect the cover and cross for a slick try with the extras added by Thrasher. 36-16 and time for one last effort which saw Llandaff earn a yellow and Taff’s Well a penalty-won lineout 8m out. With a clean take and a series of pick & goes, the pack edged towards the visitor’s line for replacement second-row John Stephens to join the party and crash over to end the game in style.

Final Score:  Taff’s Well 38 v 16 Llandaff

The Verdict

There were no doubts as to the aims of this game – for Taff’s Well, it was a bonus-point win to maintain the pressure at the top in what may go down to the very last day. For Llandaff, it was any kind of win that would give hopes of salvation but the result today extinguished the hopes and we wish them all the best as they prepare to play next season in division 3B where no doubt they will regroup. A youthful looking side took it to Taff’s Well and looked to play rugby to the end with No.8 Mike O’Connor simply outstanding as he gave a masterclass of how to retrieve the ball from a scrum that is being overpowered. Taff’s Well struggled with the direct running of full-back Ieuan Turner with flanker Thomas Grimes showed up well after being asked to switch from centre.

The Negatives

“Negatives? After a 7 try bonus-point win?” I hear you ask. Well as always, there are the bits that coach Axel Rees will have going through his mind as he prepares for the top-of-the-table clash away to Abercwmboi this coming Wednesday. Although only conceding one try, the defence lacked its usual bite and enabled Llandaff to make inroads without having the artillery to finish it off. The rucks didn’t have the usual commitment of numbers which made life difficult for scrum-half Gwilym Edwards at times and it took 40 minutes to take the sting out of a very committed Llandaff side that fought hard to get something out of the game.

The Plusses

As you would expect, there were many, starting with the set-pieces which again went well culminating in a scrum that wholly dominated and would, in normal circumstances have added a whole new complexion to the game if not for the miraculous contribution by O’Connor. The backs showed us what they can do with front-foot ball showing some well-executed tries, and pace is one thing we have in abundance with such a potent back-three. Man-of-the-Match? Who else but that man Deri Vaughan, who was a powerhouse in the scrum, showed some nice touches with ball in hand, and oh – that try.

Best Match Moment – Three props playing champaign rugby to put one of their own number in at the corner.

Worst Match Moment – Deri Vaughan seeing 30m of empty field open up before him after a lineout move

Match Day Photos:  Press Here

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Coming up…

The big one! All roads lead to Abercwmboi on Wednesday for a top of the table clash. Taff’s Well are the only side to have beaten Abercwmboi in the league this year and will no doubt be out for revenge. The boys will need all the support we can muster to take them over the line so let’s again get there in numbers.

Congratulations to the ladies XV who defeated Cilfynydd 38-7 on today in the quarter-final of the Welsh Bowl, an amazing effort from the girls.

Dave Beese  mail




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