Fixture

Gwernyfed RFC | 1st Team 23 - 34 Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team
Deri Anthony Vaughan
1 Try
Christopher Tottle
1 Try
Ryan Smith
1 Try
Conor Barrett
1 Try
James Field
4 Penalty
Brandon Thrasher
1 Conversion

Match Report
15 April 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Go Top After Hard-Earned Bonus Point Away Win At Gwernyfed

Taff’s Well Go Top After Hard-Earned Bonus Point Away Win At Gwernyfed

This fixture was the opportunity for today’s hosts Gwernyfed to gain revenge on a Taff’s Well side that had unceremoniously halted their impressive ten match unbeaten run not three weeks ago with a comprehensive victory at Maes Gwyn. Gwernyfed placed in third position, were facing a team looking to go top with a bonus point win as the stakes are raised even higher for the end–of-season run-in.

The Breathtaking Beauty of Brecon

Why can’t the WRU make it compulsory to play all away fixtures on a beautiful spring day in the heart of beautiful Brecon? They probably have their reasons… With the hosts reciprocating the hospitality shown weeks previous, the match was to kick-off before a large crowd with the Taff’s Well ‘massive’ again showing impressive support on the road.

Slow out of the Blocks

Early running saw Taff’s Well struggling to come to terms with the smaller pitch as kicks were over-cooked, and a flurry of handling errors saw scrum-half Gerwyn Williams presented with an early opportunity to open the scoring with a well struck 40m effort. Outside-half Jamie Field had a quick opportunity to level the scores but the ball was shanked across the posts thanks to a hideous contact. Home No.8 Ben Barrell was living up to his name by setting off on some impressive charges but hooker Bradley James kept his eye on him with some superb tackles belying his diminutive stature.

Field…Getting to Grips with the Field

The game was struggling to take shape with so many unforced errors unfolding but Jamie Field made up for his earlier miss by levelling the scores with a fine 40m strike and further filled his boots with a huge clearance after the hosts attacked the Taff’s Well line. Back came Gwernyfed who after a quick tap-and-go saw the visiting defensive too slow to retreat and concede another 10m which brought the posts into range for Williams to double the lead to 6-3.

Missed Opportunity

The good news for the club is that the hand injury to scrum-half Gwilym Edwards was not as serious as first thought following his finger dislocation and fully bandaged up, he duly took his place in the line-up. He had an opportunity to make his mark on the game as he broke left from a scrum with left-wing Ronan Barrett to create a two-on-two situation but the pass came a little too early giving the cover time to snuff out the attack. Consolation came in the form of a penalty with advantage being played and Field gratefully brought the teams level with another 40m strike.

Something You Don’t Often See!

As Gwernyfed countered with an up-and-under, referee Ryan Woodbridge blew his whistle as if to penalise the visitors for impeding the chaser as he jumped for the ball but he had actually penalised the chaser for jumping into the defenders who had been trying to get out of his way! With the ball planted into the 20m zone for an attacking line-out, play was spread wide across the posts for a high tackle to bring a simple opportunity for Field to take the visitors into the lead for the first time at 9-6 in an increasingly frustrating first half as the error count increased.

More Tit-for-Tat Penalties

Field and Williams exchanged further penalties to take the score to 12-9 in favour of the visitors, with the first half being a tale of the home side living off Taff’s Well mistakes but the visitor’s defence showing typical backbone led by the imperious tackling of hooker Bradley James which was a joy to watch. As the sides switched ends, hopes were that the second-half would show signs of improvement as far as the flow of the game was concerned.

Half-Time Score:  Gwernyfed 9 – 12 Taff’s Well


Second-Half

It wasn’t long before our prayers were answered thanks to some meaningful ball retention and a sweeping move across the backs which saw full-back Chris Tottle enter the line at pace and round the covering defence with the after-burners on for a peach of a try which saw the wide-out conversion attempt just shaving the uprights. Back came the hosts with flanker Sam Stephens and prop James Brute also living up to his name at the heart of everything good but an impressively stout defence was making life increasingly difficult for the hosts.

That Man James Again

The lineout was going well and the Taff’s Well eight were attacking the Gwernyfed scrum put-in with Lloyd James having another great game at loosehead. The hosts scrummaging has been a feature of their recent form and success and to their credit, they were making life difficult for No.8 Max Watkins as he tried to get his customary pick-and-go game going at the base of the scrum thanks to some clever spoiling. As play entered the Gwernyfed half, the front-row took matters into their own hands with a great bust by James up the middle followed up with a charge by prop Atkin but some illegalities at the breakdown enable the hosts to clear the danger.

Pressure Tells

To be fair, you always felt that Taff’s Well always had another card up their sleeve if only they could get the ball wide but centre Matthew Wright thought otherwise as he punched up through the centre with a bullocking run that left several defenders strewn in his wake to deliver a killer inside pass to co-centre Ryan Smith who showed good awareness in support to scamper over for the try. No conversion but a healthier looking 22-9 lead to the black & whites.

Conjunctivitis?

Back came the home side to lay siege on the Taff’s Well line and only some outstanding defence from all quarters saved the day with the ball being held on two separate occasions over the line. With outstanding hooker on the day James off with a facial injury, on came replacement prop Deri Vaughan who was to make something of an impact. Replacement outside-half Brandon Thrasher hoofed the ball into the home half for Ronan Barrett to hunt down the would-be gatherer who gave away a penalty in the process of the tackle. With the option to go for touch and secure a 5m lineout, there then seemed to be an outbreak of conjunctivitis as both the conniving Jon Barry (standing first in the line) and Vaughan blinked and winked at each other before the ball was thrown low to Barry who quickly threw it back to Vaughan who used some 'Riverdance-like' footwork to ghost over unmarked in the corner past a bemused defence and to a huge cheer for one of the most popular tries of the season. Crafty, cunning, artful, scheming, chicanery, duplicitous – call it what you will, a five-pointer from a smart bit of co-thinking and a dazzling finish which had gone from 5m to 40m by the end of the night (nothing to do with the fact I got into a round with Deri). 27-9 and the game seemingly in the bag…you would think.

The Comeback

Gwernyfed hadn’t gone on a 10-match unbeaten run without having some steel in the side and a Gareth Dodd interception at outside-half led to a 60m sprint for the 42-year-old who looked like going all the way if not for a lung-bursting covering tackle from full-back Tottle. With another outstanding contributor in prop Lloyd James looking at first like he had sustained a bad injury to his neck leaving the field, Taff’s Well were forced into passive scrums as although they were willing to scrummage with John Stephens at prop, the referee wasn’t happy that there was no specialist prop as two of the front-row had left the field with injuries. From the subsequent scrum, home No.8 Barrell led a drive to force himself over for Williams to convert and close the score to 27-16.

Mix-Up Mess

With Taff’s Well still looking the stronger, they were perhaps guilty of trying to put a bit too much icing on the cake instead of closing the game out as a back move went disastrously wrong for Dodd to again intercept and feed centre Jack Williams who strode over for another Gerwyn  Williams converted try to bring the hosts back from the dead to just 27-23 down. Was the unthinkable about to happen? Not if Brandon Thrasher had anything to do with it as he broke to shrug off several would-be tacklers and feed a rampaging Conor Barrett who bludgeoned himself through two defenders to cross and seal the game for Thrasher to convert. Phew! Job done, against a strong Gwernyfed side who fought to the whistle against a strong-willed Taff’s Well outfit who had done the job with a four-try bonus point away win to sit proudly at the top of the league having played two more games than Abercwmboi.

Final Score:  Gwernyfed 23 v 34 Taff’s Well


The Verdict

This was a must-win game for Taff’s Well in their push for promotion and in the end, they accomplished their aim with a little to spare. A scrappy disappointing first half saw many unforced errors which were compounded by over-complicating the basic tenets of the game but the second showed what the side is capable of even if there was a hint of self-destruct towards the end.

Bonus Point

The bonus point could prove very handy in the shake-down looking at past results and Taff’s Well may be the only side to come away from Gwernyfed with a bonus-point victory this season. The much vaunted Gwernyfed pack were kept in check by the Taff’s Well eight who provided the platform for the backs to get to work through the second half. Ben Barrell, Sam Stephens and James Brute were the standouts for the home side who although managed to get close at 27-23, couldn’t take advantage of an error-strewn first half performance by Taff’s Well who threw everything back in defence.

Taff’s Well Lowdown

The pleasing thing about this victory was that units throughout the side functioned well; front row through to back row, half-backs and centre partnership but the ball still struggled to get to a potent back-three who will skin most sides if given the chance. The front row of the two James’ plus Ben Atkin grew throughout the match with the bench again playing its back (Deri Vaughans’ little cameo especially comes to mind). Just about everyone had their moments which is not a cop-out, just a fact and the boys can pat themselves on the back for digging out a performance that could have huge significance come the end of what has already been such a fantastic season. The unanimous standout for the well was hooker Bradley James who tackled tirelessly with some huge hits stopping runners at source as well a controlling the lineout. Coach Axel Rees and Captain Lewis Edwards will be delighted with the win but the reality of the situation is that next week’s away game at Fairwater could be a season-defining affair.

Match Gallery:  Press Here


Coming up…

Attention All Taff’s Well Supporters!

We will need every able (and not so able) bodied person to get to Fairwater to support the lads next week in what is always a tough encounter. With two home games to follow, the lads will need all the support they can get as they bid for promotion to Division 2 of the National League.

Quote of the Week

Try Hero Deri Vaughan after his 127th 1st Team Game “I’m not being funny Dai, I’ve never been fit in my life and it’s not like I’m going to start now is it?” - Legend


Dave Beese  mail  davecbwales@gmail.com

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