Fairwater RFC | 1st Team 9 - 32 Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team
Bradley Dean James
1 Try
Max Watkins
1 Try
Brandon Thrasher
1 Conversion
5 Penalty
Matthew Desmier
1 Try

Match Report
22 April 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Promotion Push Intensifies with Bruising 32-9 Away Win at Fairwater

This fixture carried a combination of expectation and trepidation as the impressive Taff’s Well ‘Barmy Army’ took to the road in a terrific show of support lining the touchline. This match was billed as a potential banana skin as recent games have always been close and you would be forgiven in thinking that this was no place to go with four youth players in the squad (three starting) but these youngsters have grown in stature throughout the season and there would have been a lot of proud relatives following today’s impressive second-half showing which keeps the promotion bandwagon rolling amid scenes of five yellow cards and two reds.

Fairwater out of the Blocks

Fairwater is always a difficult place to go and play as the pitch is narrow, stifling open rugby which ultimately results in the two packs slugging it out playing into the hands of the hosts. The anticipated onslaught was evident from the start as the home side tore into the Taff’s Well ranks disrupting rhythm and tempo and forcing handling errors before Fairwater hooker Chris Greenfield was presented with an early penalty opportunity for offside which he duly converted to open a three-point lead.

Dominant Scrum

With Fairwater knocking the ball forward in their 20m zone, the two packs eyed each up and locked horns for the subsequent scrum but as the ball was fed, an almighty shunt by the Taff’s Well eight led by prop Deri Vaughan completely destroyed the home scrum but credit where credit is due as the hosts somehow managed to retrieve the ball in the carnage for outside-half Tom McAloon to hoof it downfield to clear the danger.

Taff’s Well Yellow Card

With the home side back on the attack, Taff’s Well centre Matthew Wright got on the wrong side of the referee and was pointed to the touchline for a 10-minute rest with Greenfield rubbing salt in the wounds with the ensuing penalty to double the lead to 6-0. As on previous occasions this season, the handling of yellow card situations has been impressive as the side seems to lift itself and manage the game to fill the gap in numbers and during this period, outside-half Brandon Thrasher managed to reduce the deficit with a penalty as he produced a masterful display with the boot throughout the afternoon.

Scrappy First Half

You had the sense that the two sides had been testing each other out as there were rare passages of fluid play with the home side enjoying the better territory and shading the possession stakes. Fairwater were aggressive in everything they did and lesser sides might have succumbed to the physical confrontation as they got the better of the first half but Taff’s Well were impressive in defence and restricted Greenfield to a single penalty before the break which was cancelled out by another effort by Thrasher to put the half-time score at 9-6 to the home team.

Half-Time Score: Fairwater 9 v 6 Taff’s Well

Second Half

The Taff’s Well set-pieces have improved as the season has progressed and today was no exception with the scrum well on top and the line-out working well. The back row of No.8 Max Watkins, Skipper Lewis Edwards and open-side Conor Barrett were always in the thick of the action in what was gradually turning into a tempestuous affair which was ultimately going to earn the home side four yellows and two red cards through lack of discipline which involved several high tackles and a few punches thrown.

Upping the Tempo

When Taff’s Well up the tempo and get their rolling maul going, they are difficult to stop and with the introduction of dynamo prop Gareth Gibbs on, things were certainly about to change. With continuity of possession, the home defence started to creak and conceded a penalty-won line-out 5m out. With a slick take and a rolling maul in motion, the Taff’s Well pack drove towards the whitewash for hooker Matthew Desmier to plough over for Thrasher to convert.

Change of ends – Change of Fortune

The game was now starting to take a new direction as it was the visitors who were winning quality ball which nearly lead to another try soon after if not for a knock-on over the line. Fairwater did manage to earn another attacking scrum close to the Taff’s Well line but it was another almighty shove that saved the day as the home scrum disintegrated. As kicker and hooker Greenfield received a yellow, Thrasher started to turn the screw with a penalty which opened up more comfortable looking 16-9 gap

Skipper to the Rescue

Fairwater were not for rolling over and earned another attacking scrum but more pressure enabled skipper Lewis Edwards to pilfer the ball for Thrasher unleash a huge kick which pinned the hosts back on their 20 line. With a high tackle penalised with another Fairwater yellow card, up stepped Thrasher to convert to increase the score to 19-9. With last week’s man-of-the-match and hooker Bradley James coming off the match, it didn’t take long for him to make his mark as he sparked a move breaking through the cover defence to set-up a ruck metres out from the home line. As the cover was sucked in and the ball spread wide, Thrasher spun a pass to put Max Watkins away to crash over in the corner with the conversion going wide. The 24-9 scoreline was looking good and with Fairwater feeling the pressure, discipline – or lack of it, was to be key.

Coup De Grace

A well-struck  47m converted penalty from Thrasher set up a finish that would see Taff’s Well try and chase down the important bonus point which looked likely after yellow was brandished at Fairwater’s Tom McAlloon which was turned into a red for dissent. With Taff’s Well smelling blood, an attacking line-out saw a sweet lineout move between Jon Barry and Bradley James end with the latter sprinting over unmarked. With another red aimed at the home side for punching, the game closed out with the visitors pressing for what was ultimately going to be an elusive bonus point and having to settle for an excellent away victory thanks to a superb gutsy second-half display.

Full-Time Score:  Fairwater 9 v 32 Taff's  Well

The Verdict

It’s difficult to refrain from using too many superlatives over this performance which could be the one that sets up the whole season? The pressure was on to deliver and deliver the boys did. Fairwater were very physical but we matched them and took it up a notch as the pack turned the screw to the point that the home side’s discipline fell apart under the pressure when Taff’s Well kept their heads.

A Game of Two Halves

If Fairwater got the better of the first then the second truly belonged to Taff’s Well as they came back from a 9-6 deficit to score 23 unanswered points throughout the second half. Brendan Thrasher showed what a mature head he’s got on his shoulders with a haul of 17 points with a couple of ‘assists’ thrown in. The defence again was a highlight as Taff’s Well nilled their hosts in tries and the bench continues to be a game changer as Taff’s Well start to pick up the pace. The pitch nullified the Taff’s Well threat out wide so it was left for the pack to create the platform which would ultimately give Fairwater their biggest losing margin of the season.

Ace in the Pack

The back-row, ably led by skipper Lewis Edwards were in the thick of everything and Max Watkins and Conor Barrett were having a ding-dong with their counterparts. The front row laid the foundation for a storming set-piece display which saw hooker Matthew Desmier earn the Man-of-the-Match award for an impressive performance especially in the first half when Fairwater threw the kitchen sink.

East District Final

1st Team Manager Hywel Graham commented “The boys really fronted up against a fired-up Fairwater side and didn’t take a step backwards. Our set-pieces were again good and we forced them into ill-discipline when we ramped up in the second half. This was a very pleasing performance but we need to maintain the focus over the last couple of games including the East District Final at Rumney on May 10th which could be against our old adversaries Pentyrch”.

Coming up…

Our exciting 2nd XV take on Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd on Tuesday under lights while the 1st XV will be at home against Llandaff Next Saturday so get those dates in your diary.

Dave Beese  mail


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