Fixture

Llandaff RFC | 1st Team 14 - 38 Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team
Justin Jones
1 Try
Brandon Thrasher
4 Conversion
Max Watkins
1 Try
Craig Robert Field
1 Try
Christopher Tottle
1 Try
Lewis Edwards
1 Try
Jack Shaddick
1 Try

Match Report
08 April 2018 / Team News

Taff’s Well Bounce Back on the Win Trail at Llandaff

After the disappointment of the performance at Pentyrch the previous week, coach Axel Rees was looking for a much-improved showing from his squad that would not only steady the ship but would also get the promotion charge back on course. He started the game by ringing the changes to rotate the squad which meant that scrum-half Craig Field partnered outside–half Brandon Thrasher as the half-back combination; Deri Vaughan coming in at prop and a rare appearance at his favoured position of flanker for veteran Justin Jones.

Solid Start Just what the Doctor Ordered

Taff’s Well were quick to get out of the blocks as they looked for early cohesion which saw them soon attacking the Llandaff line and working the ball to hooker Matthew Desmier who disappeared under a mound of bodies for what looked like a certain score but he was denied when the referee couldn’t get a good enough sighting of the grounding. From the resulting attacking scrum, possession was worked for a defence-splitting bust from No.8 Max Watkins which put flanker and skipper Lewis Edwards (got it right this week Lewis!) over in the corner for just the start the visitors were looking for as the conversion failed to bisect the uprights.

Upping the Pressure

With the backs showing more control with ball in hand, play was again taking down to the Llandaff 20m zone with full-back Chris Tottle stretching the defence with an arcing run, but with the decision to cut back inside looking like the wrong one, the ball was taken into contact and worked left for Tottle to again show up in the move and scythe through the cover defence to dive over near the posts to open up a very early twelve point lead thanks to the Thrasher conversion. With the scrum getting the better of their Llandaff counterparts, things were looking good as the hosts were struggling to contain an ambitious Taff’s Well side.

Prop Lloyd James Denied

Outside-half Brandon Thrasher had an impressive game kicking out of hand with some superb penalties to find long touch and he gave left-wing Ronan Barrett the opportunity to scorch up the touchline to follow a long punt and put in a great tackle to force an attacking lineout 10m out. With the catch and drive executed to perfection, prop Lloyd James was forced over for what seemed like another certain try – but not so as the referee again, couldn’t get enough evidence to support the claim. Thanks to some nefarious misdemeanours by the retreating home scrum, Taff’s Well took advantage through a quickly taken tap-penalty which saw a lovely pass from centre Matthew Wright freeing up No. 8 Watkins to cross out wide and extend the lead to 19 – 0 which included the successful Thrasher conversion.

Llandaff Riposte and Taff’s Well Counter-Riposte

If you thought that the hosts were about to roll over, then you would be wrong as they countered upfield to apply some pressure of their own and following a patient build-up, influential flanker Mike Connor forced himself over the line for outside-half Rees Edmunds to convert and put Llandaff very much back in the game at 19-7.  The counter-riposte was almost immediate as Llandaff were forced to feed a defensive scrum and concede against the head for a powerful maul to splinter and send rampaging prop Lloyd push towards the line supported by Watkins; with the retreating defence in disarray, the ball was fed by skipper Edwards for flanker Justin Jones to cut through the twelve channel and cross the whitewash for Thrasher again to convert and take the score at half-time to a comfortable looking 26-7 lead in favour of the men from Ffynnon Taf with the bonus point in the bag.

Half-Time Score:  Llandaff 7 – 26 Taff’s Well


Second-Half

With the bonus point secured, coach Axle Rees used the opportunity to spread around the game time which saw prop Ben Atkin and flanker Conor Barrett - returning from injury, get into the mix. To their credit, Llandaff had rolled up their sleeves when Taff’s Well had probably gone down a notch in terms of intensity following the break and the home side started to enjoy some decent possession which in turn saw their backs come more into the game with some strong running from centres Daf Jones and Dan Morgan who especially caught the eye.

Counter Attacking

One of the pleasing features of the Taff’s Well game was the ability to counter-attack from deep which was demonstrated by taking play from defence and sending a speculative kick over the top of the defence. As the covering defender tried to suppress the danger, he was unceremoniously levered of the pitch by jack Shaddick which saw the ball squirt upwards for scrum-half Craig Field to show some fancy juggling skills to pick it out of the air and sprint 25m for the touchdown.  Another Thrasher conversion took the score to 33-7 as an expectant following anticipated the floodgates to open.

Territory but Nothing to Show

Although most of the action was in the Llandaff half, the game moved into a phase which meant it kind of lost its edge which was probably fuelled by the Taff’s Well bench being emptied breaking up many of the combinations which had been working on the day and though no-one let the side down, the shape of the game was changing.  Hopes grew for the visitors as the ubiquitous Conor Barrett found himself in possession and tore off downfield which saw a subsequent penalty set up a promising attacking lineout but the ball was pilfered and the opportunity lost. Back came the home side as a great break by centre Jones saw a promising move brought to a halt thanks to a crunching tackle by Field who enjoyed an industrious afternoon in both attack and defence.

Llandaff Build Momentum

The hosts were slowly building up a head of steam which saw a sustained passage of play asking searching questions of the Taff’s Well defence. As a Llandaff penalty kick to touch resulted in an attacking 5m lineout, the visitors were pinged for an infringement which set off a board of inquiry within the Taff’s Well pack; not wishing to hang around for the outcome, flanker Mike Connor profited from a quick tap and plunged over for a well-deserved second try which saw Edmunds convert and reduce the arrears to 33-14.

Edwards Injury and Taff’s Well have the last Word

Livewire replacement scrum-half Gwilym Edwards’ day was to be cut short thanks to a dislocated finger which is bad news for the coming games so we’ll await news there. Towards the end of the game, the scrums had degenerated which didn’t help to keep any flow and the game itself had turned into a scrappy affair as both sides struggled to maintain fluidity. As the game meandered towards the end, there was still time for another Taff’s Well steal at a scrum which saw a sweeping move on the left finding winger Shaddick in possession to sprint 35m and score in the corner and since Conor Barrett asked me not to mention his conversion attempt, I won’t.

The good ship Taff’s Well RFC safely back on its way with a comfortable six-try bonus point away win which keeps them on the same points as Abercwmboi at the top of the division.

Final Score:  Llandaff 14 v 38 Taff’s Well


The Verdict

Psychologically, this game was a potential banana skin in the sense that although Llandaff are not enjoying one of their better seasons, the bruised egos from the previous week had a mission in hand to not only win the game but to show that the fight was still there as it has been for most of the season. Coach Axel Rees rang the changes starting with a few new combinations which in fairness mostly worked as there was more of a sense of cohesiveness from the set-pieces through to the back-line which ultimately led to opportunities being converted into six tries and a very important bonus point.

The Ifs and Butts

Although this a was much better performance, there‘s still plenty of room left for improvement when it comes to the passing game as passes still halt the flow of the back line as they fail to hit their precision mark. There’s still a fair of misunderstanding when the forwards join with the backs out wide as instead of acting as decoy runners when required, too many times the ball found itself in the surprised hands of a forward who took contact instead of allowing the ball to get to the back trio of speedsters who look dangerous every time they touch the ball. 

The Llandaff Story

Early indications suggested that Taff’s Well would run away with the game but Llandaff showed a lot of second-half fight against a rejigged line-up as the bench was emptied. The two centres of Jones and Hugo showed up well along with hooker Dan Morgan and No.8 Charles Rhys-Jones, and player-coach flanker Mike Connor showed great determination for his two tries. He commented “Taff’s Well were very organised with their solid set-pieces and put us under pressure. They were solid in defence too and hurt us when they counter-attacked from deep”.

The Taff’s Well Story

Young Brandon Thrasher punished Llandaff with both his place kicking and some great raking touch-finders while his inside-half partner Craig Field put in another accomplished performance which included some solid defence. No.8 Max Watkins continues to up his game as the season reaches its conclusion while the combined front ‘five’ of props Deri Vaughan, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Atkin, hookers Bradley James and Matthew Desmier along with second-rowers Jon Barry and Ethan Prescott made life very difficult for their counterparts. Flanker Justin Jones revelled in his favoured position of flanker and Conor Barrett looked good as he returned from injury with the man in charge Edwards, leading from the front. The whole pack to a man rose to the challenge that was set for them by the coaching team with the players choice of MOM going to Craig Field which I’m happy to go along with but he was pushed hard by Max Watkins.

Match Day Photographs:  Press Here

Coming Up…

This Tuesday sees Taff’s Well lock horns with Cowbridge in the East District Cup Semi-final which will be at Llandaff North – KO 6.15pm, so make sure you’re there to cheer the lads on. Saturday will see a tough away game to Gwernyfed who will be a different proposition at home still smarting from losing their 10-match unbeaten run at Taff’s Well two weeks ago, there will be room on the player’s bus for supporters if you’re thinking of making the lovely trip through Brecon. Bus departure time will be placed on Facebook and Twitter later in the week.


Dave Beese  mail  davecbwales@gmail.com

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