Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 34 - 17 Llandaff North RFC | 1st Team
Justin Jones
Try 2
Jack Shaddick
Try 1
Brandon Thrasher
Conversion 3
Penalty 1
Ricky Edwards
Try 1
Rhys Watkins
Try 1

Match Report
03 September 2017 / Team News

New Look Taff’s Well KO Season with 34 – 17 Win Over Llandaff North

With the death knell of ‘Summer’ signalled by Glamorgan’s 11 run defeat to Birmingham Bears in the T20 cup semi-final, it was time to turn attention to the new rugby season. And it was a very youthful looking Taff’s Well outfit that Captain Lewis Edwards took to the field with thanks to a raft of high profile retirees and injuries but with the emphasis of club coach Axel Rees firmly on the path of developing local talent, it was going to be interesting to see how the new fledglings would fair in a very competitive league.

Superb Playing Conditions

As referee Alex Yau got the game underway in perfect playing conditions - thanks in no small way to the fantastic efforts of groundsmen Graham Cox and Roger Watkins - it was Taff’s Well who were to draw first blood with present youth outside-half Brandon Thrasher making his 1st team debut and striking a fine 38m penalty which was soon to be cancelled out by opposite number Rob Sweetman’s reply.

Early Chances

With an early opportunity to impress, flying right wing Ronan Barrett was put away but as he started to get into his stride, his juggling didn’t quite match up to his fancy footwork as both ball and opportunity were lost. Eager to make amends, he was soon to make ground from his own half and scythe into the Llandaff 22 but the first of many accidental offsides during the afternoon frustratingly ending the foray.

Llandaff Two Try Salvo

As the visitors began to get into the game, some quick thinking from a quick tap penalty saw a half-asleep Taff’s Well defence look on helplessly as live-wire flanker Dom Scoble needed no second invitation to barge over for Sweetmant to convert and open a 10-3 lead. Llandaff were upping the tempo whenever they could and added a second try thanks to some more smart thinking from 2nd row Jack Copner who quick tapped another penalty to take advantage of the 10m rule to ghost past the Taff’s Well defence for Sweetman to convert and stretch the lead to a rather comfortable looking 17-3.

All to Play For

The score may not have looked good for Taff’s but this was an even affair with prop Ben Atkin back from injury, fellow prop Lloyd James and hooker Matthew Desmier providing the stability for Captain and No.8 Lewis, 2nd team Captain Conor Barrett and flanker extraordinaire on the day - Rhys Watkins, to mix it up with a very combative Llandaff eight and back-row in particular.

Taff’s Hit Back 

If the visitors tries were the result of opportunism then Taff’s had no desire to be left out; from a halfway line scrum which broke up into organised chaos, Rhys Watkins somewhere found the ball in his possession and sped away unmarked from a rather bemused looking Llandaff defence with Thrasher rubbing salt into the wounds with the conversion. The home side were finishing the half strongly and only another accidental offside from a tap penalty close to the visitor’s line prevented another beckoning home score. There was just enough time for Llandaff to organise another attack which was snuffed out by just one of several superb tackles by scrum-half Gwilym Edwards.

                    Half-Time Score:  Taff’s Well 10 v 17 Llandaff North

                                               Second Half

Early Strike For Taff's

For all their endeavour, Taff’s Well were finding it difficult to get quality ball wide but this was to change early doors as from a scrum 45m out, Gwilym Edwards fed left-wing Jack Shaddick on the crash who broke the back of the visitors defence to fall agonisingly short of the line but having the presence of mind to pop up the ball into the hands of ever reliable centre Justin Jones to canter over and bring the gap to within two point as the conversion sailed wide. Jones has been one Taff’s Well’s most consistent performers and he further warmed to the task in hand as he followed another Rhys Watkins burst down the left-hand touchline to take an inside pass and round the hapless Llandaff fullback for a great score which was rewarded with another Thrasher conversion to put Taff’s Well back into the lead at 22-17.

Injuries, Passive Scrums and Terrific Tackling

The game was to be affected by injuries to home props Lloyd James, replacement Deri Vaughan, centre Martin Detorres and to inspirational flanker Watkins which meant passive scrums and the introduction of further replacements in flanker Ricky Edwards and centre Matthew Wright who didn’t waste any time getting involved with some great flying tackles on the touchline. Following the disruptions, Llandaff were enjoying some good possession and looked certain to go back in the lead with a bust through the centre by Ethan Kenny but some lung-bursting back-tracking from scrum-half Edwards resulted in one the best tackles you will see as he snuffed out man and ball to save the day.

2nd Team Boys Filling Their Boots

The visitors were starting to apply some serious pressure but the home defence was in no mood to ship any further points and it was testament to the strength of the 2nd team set-up that so many players were able to step up to the plate with distinction especially full-back Ryan ‘Smudger‘ Smith and 2nd flanker Lewys Jones who filled in ably at 2nd row to be ‘minded’ by experienced fellow 2nd rower and partner Jonathan Barry who played an instrumental part in the Taff’s Well counter-rucking which was to continually frustrate Llandaff during the afternoon.

Clinical Taff’s Well Provide the Edge

If Llandaff were not going to take advantage of possession and territory then Taff’s Well were not about to follow suit as winger Barrett fielded a speculative kick to take on the ensuing defence and link up with fellow winger Shaddick who set off on a bullocking run down the touchline to leave three defenders in his wake a score a superb individual effort rewarded with another Thrasher conversion to start taking the game away from the visitors at 29-17.

Coup De Grace

It must have been frustrating from a Llandaff perspective as Taff’s Well were repulsing everything that was thrown at them with a well-functioning lineout helping to gain valuable clearing time – Rhys Watkins again playing his part before his departure. With the game coming to its conclusion and Llandaff North seemingly tiring, it would be the home side who would have the last word as Captain Edwards fielded a kick and did enough to gain traction and earn a succession of 5m scrums from which 2nd row Barry was able to bust up and feed replacement Ricky Edwards who forced his way over to complete an impressive comeback of 31 unanswered points in an open and entertaining game which was a credit to both sides.

                     Final Score:  Taff’s Well 34 v 17 Llandaff North

The Verdict

The weather and superb Taff’s Well pitch demanded an open game and that’s just about what we got as Llandaff again proved that they want to play rugby. Their back-row of Lewis Wilkie, Dom Scoble and Owain Thomas made Taff’s Well work hard at the ruck area with Taff’s gradually getting on top. Their half-back combination of Sweetman and scrum-half Dafydd Williams looked to counter whenever they could but didn’t quite manage to get the quality ball they cried out for.

Taff's Took Their Chances

Given the circumstances of losing so many players, Taff’s Well coach Axel Rees would have been delighted with a gutsy win over a resolute North side who refused to give in with the vote split between the score perhaps flattering the home side and Taff’s Well taking their chances thanks to a great second half defensive effort.

Llandaff Coach Rues Missed Tackles

‘We were disappointed with the points margin at the end, especially as we attacked for a prolonged period in the second half,  we started to tire a little and fell off tackles to concede some soft tries. Credit to Taff’s Well, they were aggressive at the breakdown with their counter-rucking and they tightened up and protected their own ball” commented Llandaff North coach Dai Smith, no stranger to Taff’s Well rugby himself.

Watkins Leads the Charge

There were many good performances for the home side and some big moments from young players who stepped up to the plate. Man-of-the-Match Rhys Watkins was outstanding and a constant thorn in the side of the visitors putting in some big hits together with providing some barnstorming runs to put Taff’s Well on the front foot. Young youth outside Brandon Thrasher looked a good prospect for the future as his confidence grew and his tally of nine points was fine reward with his half-back partner Gwilym Edwards running Watkins close for MOM with a busy performance topped with some real top-draw tackles. The fixture provided a bit of a watershed moment as 15 of the match day squad of 23 have come through the Taff's Well Youth ranks with the whole of the named 23 living in or around the village itself.

Winging It

Wingers, Barrett and young Shaddick looked dangerous every time they took the ball with the latter moving from the centre to provide some great entertainment for the large crowd and good also to see another debutant in the shape of big youth number eight Ethan Prescott getting some game time towards the end.

Bonus Point Win

All in all, a well-earned bonus point five try win but there will be far sterner challenges starting with next week’s fixture away to Old Illtydians. Front row cover remains a problem and hopefully, centre Martin Detorres  and player coach Rhys Watkins will recover quickly for next week’s fixture.   

Dave Beese  mail






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