Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 33 - 26 Llanishen RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
26 November 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Have Final Say in 33-26 Win Over Llanishen

The common denominator for today’s game was the fact that both sides would have been targeting the encounter as a must-win with Llanishen looking for mid-table security and Taff’s Well looking to end a series of games in which they had managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory. With something of a reputation as slow starters, the home side would be looking to make a strong statement by applying early pressure with improved discipline a key factor.

Early Let-Off & Reposte

From the off, it would be Llanishen who showed early intent as they earned a shot at goal thanks to some over-zealous attention at the offside line. Little could we know that the ensuing miss would be something of a clue as to the eventual outcome of the match as Llanishen would spurn several such opportunities throughout the afternoon. Taff’s Well, on the other hand, had no intention of being so profligate as with the first slice of meaningful possession, centre Ryan Smith adeptly beat his opposite number to get behind the defence and ship onto full-back Ronan Barrett steaming up in support to romp home for a splendid effort which outside-half Matthew Hurley duly rewarded with the extras.

Front Row Union in Sync

The front row of props Graham Harvey and Gareth Gibbs alongside hooker Matthew Desmier were starting to lay down a marker at scrum-time which was eventually going to have a bearing on the final result. No. 8 Max Watkins took advantage of a quick tap penalty to gain a few yards more and another penalty which was to bring the posts in the range of the deadly boot of Hurley who calmly stroked it over from 35m out to open up an early lead of 10-0. But if you thought this was good, then there was better to follow.

Barrett Strikes Again

As the ball was kicked deep into home territory, left-wing Mike Lindon collected but was collared as he sized up his options but he still managed to get the ball away to full-back Barrett who was in attendance. As defenders started to close him down, he sniffed a gap to tear through the middle of the field with a weaving 60m run which had desperate arms clutching at thin air. As he approached the visitors 22, he off-loaded to link-man, flanker and Captain Justin Jones who drew his man to tee-up jack-in-a-box scrum-half Gwilym Edwards who needed no second invitation to dart away on the overlap and score a belter of a try straight out of the top drawer. If Taff’s Well were looking for a good start then 17-0 up would definitely go some way towards it!

Timid Tackling Torments

If you thought this was too good to be true – then you would have been right as the visitors started to get their act together to aggressively attack the ruck areas and provide possession for their big runners to pour through some pretty mediocre defence which was to prove very costly as prop Lee Swindlehurst bundled himself over the whitewash for a seven-pointer. Spurred on by their success and with a spring in their step, a quick tapped penalty close to the Taff’s Well line saw scrum-half Harry Trelawny take advantage of some slack marking to dive over and bring the game back to a contest thanks to the conversion and a 17-14 scoreline.

Llanishen Fail to Capitalise

There was no stopping the visitors as the quick ball from the ruck area was starting to cause problems out wide with Taff’s Well being stretched through lack of numbers but Llanishen were to be the architects of their own misfortune as they squandered several chances through some pretty ordinary passing with the line in sight. The Taff’s Well scrum was starting to do some serious damage with another penalty giving Hurley the opportunity to stretch the score to 20-14. Back came Llanishen but more opportunities were squandered with a knock-on from a quick tap penalty and another missed penalty shot at goal from 25m which would see Taff’s Well take a half-time lead in a fiercely contested but clean game.

Half-Time Score:  Taff’s Well 20 v Llanishen 14

Second Half

Llanishen may have been taking the honours at the ruck but the home side were nailing the set-pieces with an improved show of discipline but the Achilles heel throughout the afternoon would be the defence as time after time, the tackling would be shoulder-high enabling the Llanishen strike runners to pour through. Prop Swindlehurst would again prove to be the thorn in the side as he barged himself over for a brace of tries which when converted, took Llanishen into the lead for the first time in the game. After a prolonged spell of possession, only a last-ditch finger-tip tackle prevented yet another try before right-wing Christian Nicholas earned his spurs with a solid tackle up the other end of the pitch which earned another penalty shot for Hurley and another three points to put his side back in the lead at 24-21.

Scrum Dominance Pay Off

The score seemed to galvanise Taff’s Well as they started to take the sting out of the Llanishen attack with skipper Jones prominent. A sweeping movement would take play down to the visitor’s line and with a try looking certain, referee Lloyd Hughes whistled as the ball was held up over the line. This was the opportunity for the pack to fill their boots with a scrum 5m out – and fill their boots they did as a succession of mighty shunts forward saw Mr Hughes run to the posts to award a penalty try and a yellow card much to the relief of the home crowd.

Llanishen Not For the Folding

If you thought that Llanishen were going to roll over, then you would again be wrong as Taff’s Well continually managed to put themselves under pressure when there seemed to be little hint of danger The visitors kept their heads to work the ball along the line for right wing James Airey to score a smart try out wide to bring about a four-point game at 30-26 with the game anyone’s to win. It took a substitution to start to shore up a leaky home defence and it came in the shape of the diminutive Bradley James who although playing in the unaccustomed position of flanker – still managed to fell the big runners at source as well as bursting up the middle with ball in hand to earn a 40m penalty shot at goal for Hurley. The outside-half was to complete a perfect record for the afternoon with his kicking as he rifled over a superb effort to stretch the score to a converted try at 33-26.

Still Time for Drama

Taff’s Well were now starting to look more comfortable which resulted in a foray into the Llanishen 22 but with ten minutes to go, No.8 Watkins was yellow carded with ball in hand for voluble verbose verbiage (backchat) and Taff’s Well would have to see the game out a man down. Aside from another missed penalty attempt from the visitors, Taff’s Well impressively managed the game to the end to win an action-packed encounter which could have gone either way.

Final Score:  Taff’s Well 33 v 26 Llanishen

The Verdict

There was an audible sigh of relief from the home support as both sides did their level best to hand the game over to the other. Llanishen will be disappointed as they created enough chances to take more than two bonus points away from the game but their finishing let them down along with a little radar trouble when aiming at the posts to boot (or not to boot as it turned out). The home pack struggled at the breakdown but excelled in the set-pieces where ultimately the game was probably won as the Llanishen lineout faltered at opportune moments and the dominant Taff’s Well scrum earning a penalty try.

Taking Chances

The Taff’s Well backline did well to finish off the chances they created with full-back Ronan Barrett always looking a threat and outside-half Matthew Hurley was in imperious form kicking off the tee. Skipper Jones led from the front with the pack having their moments when it mattered although the defence will be of concern to coach Rhys Watkins who would have witnessed a tackling display which played into the hands of a Llanishen side who continuously broke the gain line allowing to them to stay in the game throughout.

MOM Performance

The penalty count was definitely an improvement with a shout-out to the referee who communicated with the players and allowed the game to flow. Llanishen may have made life difficult but you have to commend Taff’s Well for resiliently managing the game at the end with a man down and it’s probably about time that we took a game that we could or should have won – and won it. If there was one player who typified the Taff’s Well resilience, then it would have to be Gwilym Edwards who from scrum-half gave a sterling display in both attack and defence which when the fine margins are considered, was probably the difference between the two sides.

Good to see a game played in a good spirit although disappointed to find out that I’m completely out of my league as Phil the Llanishen touch-judge managed to run the line while writing a match report and who still found time to keep a running conversation with the Taff’s Well squad – respect. You may have noticed that the report is a day late, this is primarily due to watching over an hour and a half of the club’s CC TV footage to see what happened to my rucksack after I left it over the club with a lot of valuable stuff in it including the notes for the report. After Tracy and I did a joint impression of a Scene of Crime Unit, we deduced that at the end of the night, Tracy has somehow inadvertently persuaded one of the drunkest men in the club (there were many but the award goes to Ronan Barratt) to take it home. After dumping it in his car outside, he didn’t even know that he had it, bless him – nice one Ronan, owe you a pint mate.

Dave Beese  mail  

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