Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 21 - 33 St Peters RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
21 October 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Let Slip Glorious Opportunity in 36 – 21 Defeat Against Unbeaten St. Peters

If you were looking for a full-bodied Welsh league confrontation, then Taff’s Well was the place to be as the home side took on an impressive St. Peters outfit which stood at the top of the table and remaining undefeated in the process. On a day made for rugby on a superb Maes Gwyn pitch, the Blacks & Whites were to once again put their supporters through the tumble drier of emotions.

Early Chances

Taff’s Well looked to settle early which is exactly what they did and a good passage of play saw an early glimpse of the back line but as with many opportunities in the first half, a spot of butterfingering brought the attack to nought. St Peters were not in a benevolent mood and a 40m penalty from outside half Ed Poynter opened the visitors account. With Matthew Hurley starting to revel in the inside centre position, his influence on the game was to show early promise as he got behind the defence to send hooker Matthew Desmier sprinting for the line but a desperate tackle cut him down just feet from the whitewash.

Hurley Does the Damage

Hurley had the opportunity to even the scores with a penalty from wide out but the ball failed to see eye-to-eye with the posts. Solid defence was stifling the big runners in a big visiting pack with open-side flanker Rhys Green again proving he was no fan of reputations but another 40m effort from Poynter was to double the visitors score against the run of play. Back came the wellmen as the ball was worked wide to put right wing Christian Nicholas away and it took a good covering tackle to force him into touch. With the pressure mounting, Hurley burst through his marker to feed co-entre Justin Jones who fed the ball outside to put Nicholas over in the corner unmarked for a great try and reward for an ambitious opening quarter.

Tit for Tat Penalties

The rock’s pack had stated their intent through their much-vaunted scrum with age-grade international experience along the front row but the home trio of props Lloyd James and Deri Vaughan alongside hooker Matthew Desmier were to prove that they would be more than a match for their illustrious counterparts as the game wore on. From a solid attacking platform, Hurley chipped through for the referee to spy an offside which saw the centre sailing the ball between the uprights for a 10-6 lead. At the other end of the field defending against an attacking scrum, the Taff’s Well pack put on an almighty shove to rock the rock’s pack but referee Gerwyn Taylor had spotted some shenanigans on his side for St Peters to claw back another three points.

Lack of Concentration

With another passage of enterprising handling, Taff’s Well forced the visitors into another offside misdemeanour which was again punished by Hurley which looked like taking the home side into a hard-earned but fully deserved 13-9 lead but St Peters had other ideas.  With the ball being dropped from the kick-off, the referee chose to take issue with the Taff’s Well scrum which saw the visitors tap-and-go wide resulting in left wing Lloyd James scooting over in the corner around a bemused home side defence which was not happy with the decision. The half-time whistle saw the home side 14-13 down in a half in which they had soaked up pressure, made their tackles, showed ambition but had laid waste several scoring opportunities in letting St Peters off the hook.

Half Time Score:  Taff’s Well 13 v 14 St Peters

Second Half

Quickly back in the groove, the pack earned a lineout 15m out and with Rhys Green as the hoisted catcher safely back on terra firma, he somehow wriggled his way out of the surrounding defenders to burst through and head for the line. With desperate tackles saving the day and the ball being delivered from the ensuing ruck, it was another bout of misfiring mitts that brought the move to a halt. Despite another massive shunt from the Taff’s Well eight, the danger was cleared as the ball was well cleared under pressure.

Squeezed Out in the Corner

St Peters were soon back under the cosh as the Taff’s Well backline conjured up some lovely handling for Hurley to again bust his marker and enable outside-half Brandon Thasher to fire out a miss-pass to Christian Nicholas who charged for the corner to what looked like a touch-down at the flag but it was a difficult one to judge and the referee gave the benefit of the doubt to the defending side. Still more Taff’s Well pressure as from an attacking scrum, livewire scrum-half Gwilym Edwards outflanked the back row to get through a gap but with the home crowd begging him to go it alone with the line at his mercy, he unselfishly looked for support in the shape of full-back Ronan Barrett who took the pass only to be tackled on the line forcing the ball to be knocked forward.

Failure to Score Proves Costly

This was now all Taff’s Well with St Peters penned back in their 22 and the pack stepping up the pace which was to result in a penalty 20m out and a straight-forward kick to the posts to put the home side back in the lead. To the amazement of the crowd, the decision was taken to go for a scrum but with the ball lost in the phases, St Peters showed their finishing ability by working the ball along the line from defence to leave left wing Lloyd James a clear 90m sprint for the line and a flop under the posts. Instead of leading 16-14, the home side were now trailing 21-13 as a result of a killer try completely against the run of play.

St Peters Take Advantage

Hurley was again able to take advantage of more Taff Well pressure with a fine struck 36m penalty effort but the home side were again guilty of not securing the kick-off which enabled St Peters to set up a series of driving mauls which resulted in loose-head prop David Price capping a good day for him by forcing himself over the line to open the lead up to 26-16. Whilst Taff’s Well were failing to capitalise on their pressure, St Peters were taking advantage of every scrap of opportunity that came their way which is the mark of any good side.

The Curious Affair of the Missing Linesman

There then followed a bizarre passage of play that could only happen in Welsh rugby. The St Peters linesman had been falling out of favour with the Taff’s Well contingent on the far side touchline with some differing interpretations of how far the ball was travelling when kicked and how much ground was to be awarded. As tempers frayed, the referee stepped in and asked him to swap touchlines to take the heat out of the situation which one would have hoped would let the steam out of the cooker. Unfortunately not so, as rocks winger Jack Huntly took the ball at speed and set off for the corner flag - a try seemed certain but a brilliant cover tackle ‘took him into touch’ feet short of the line, much to the great delight of all the Taff’s Well crowd who were in sight, but the unfortunate re-placed linesman was not as fleet of foot as the pacey Huntly and was trailing some 30m behind play. With the referee having no raised flag to intervene and being unsighted, he had no option but to give the try which meant it was a case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ for the hapless flag waver (or not flag waver as it turned out), not the most encouraging of verbal support I've heard for a linesman returning to his mark - I blame Huntly for being so quick but it was another hammer blow when the home side were again looking comfortable.

Too Little Too Late

With the score at 33-16 and not even a bonus point in sight, it was left to another pressing attack to yield a succession of penalties and produce the opportunity for hooker Matthew Desmier to burrow over the line under the posts with the match summed up by the quickly taken missed drop-kick conversion – the perfect summation of a totally frustrating afternoon for the home side which had looked good for the most part but had to sit back and watch a street-wise St Peters outfit show how you take advantage of opportunities - no matter how long they take to come. The game finished with another penalty from Poynter to rub salt into a gaping wound and it was the visitors who took away the spoils.

Final Score: Taff's Well 21 v 36 St Peters

The Verdict

Where do you start with this one? The St Peters pack has been gaining the plaudits this season but they came up against a gritty Taff’s Well eight who refused to give way. The scrums were solid with some great shoves and the lineout only started to creak slightly in the second half. The big runners were kept under wraps for the most part by some sterling defence led by flanker Rhys Green who had a superb day in a Taff’s Well shirt.

Missed Opportunities

Matthew Hurley has brought more shape to the backline playing from inside centre and he caused all sorts of problems for St Peters with his running, kicking and distribution. The backs played with ambition but the final execution was the missing link leaving a shedful of tries out on the pitch. St Peters were patient and finished off every little chance that came their way as Taff’s Well managed to keep any meaningful threat at bay for most of the game.

For the rocks, wingman Lloyd James looked sharp with loosehead Harry Dobbs and blindside flanker Jack Cook showing why they are top of the league and unbeaten. For Taff’s Well, the front row of James, Desmier and Vaughan were more than a match in the tight against their counterparts with Ben Atkin and Gareth Gibbs playing useful cameo roles. Gwilym Edwards was always a threat with ball in hand and Christian Nicholas continues to takes his chance after being promoted from the 2nd XV.

Matthew Hurley was the standout in the backs showing his experience and he was at the centre of everything good that the backline produced and it would take a superlative performance from someone to nick the man-of-the-match award from under his nose. But that is exactly what we got from openside Rhys Green who put in a momentous tackling shift during the afternoon continually nullifying the threats from the rock’s big runners at source. Skipper Lewis Edwards will be delighted by the huge effort tinged with huge disappointment at the final result - great effort from both sides to provide a spectacle but this really was the one that got away…

Apologies for the lack of 2nd team report last week, if you find out who nicked my jacket in the Taff’s Well Inn last Saturday, could you tell them that the 2nd XV match report is in the pocket?

Match Day Photos:  Press Here

Next Week…

Welsh Cup:  Heol Y Cyw v Taff’s Well (a)

Dave Beese mail


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