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21 April 2017 / Club News

Taff’s Well Walking Wounded Edged Out of Cup Final 51-42

For the neutral, this must have been a great match to watch as the injury ravaged Taff’s Well squad took on a rather unfamiliar looking Llantwit Major side in a ding-dong East District Cup Semi-final battle which finally went the way of the Vale of Glamorgan side in a high scoring game.

The match couldn’t have started any better for Taff’s Well as scrum-half Gwilym Edwards made an early break to enable second-row Daryl Mota to stretch over the line to open the scoring for full-back Tom Benjamin to slot over the extras and take a 7-0 lead. With the officials in benevolent mood, an obvious looking knock-on was missed for Llantwit to pull back with a try after breaking down the right-hand side and following a Benjamin penalty, they were able to take advantage of some poor tackling to add another score through their scrum-half and thanks to the conversion – take a 12-10 advantage.

Llantwit were looking to run from deep and they were further allowed to take advantage of more defensive lapses for their pacey full-back to cash in and extend the Llantwit lead to 19-10. With Benjamin adding another penalty, Taff’s Well hopes were hit again as slack marking was to account for another soft try which was to be the hallmark of the evening and which would inevitably lead to another score to take the Valemen into a comfortable looking 29-13 lead before Benjamin pulled the score back with another penalty which was to contribute to a fine game by him as he kicked superbly both off the floor and out of hand to compliment some incisive running.  

As half-time approached and Lee Jones adding to the injury woes, replacement Max Watkins was able to give more hope as he profited from a Llantwit yellow card and an attacking scrummaging advantage to power over from close-up to close the scores to 29-23 at the break and the game for the taking for the side that wanted it the most.

         Half-time score:  Taff’s Well 23 v 29 Llantwit Major


                                      Second-half

Just as things were starting to look good, a mix-up in defence was to cost another five pointer as coach Axel Rees looked on bemused and not a little frustrated by the proceedings as without taking anything away from a very ambitious Llantwit outfit – Taff’s Well were proving to be the architects of their own misfortune by some altogether poor defensive lapses. Thanks to some end-to-end stuff, play was taken up to the Llantwit line and following a line-break by winger Ronan Barrett and some great pressure from the forwards, No8 Watkins found himself wide out on the left-wing to surge over for his second try and put the score at 34-30 in a now pulsating contest.

Following some more graft from the pack and some nice build-up play, wingman Gavin Close found himself squeezed into the left-hand corner but not for the first time this season, he managed to fend of two would-be defenders to score for Benjamin to rifle over a superb conversion and put Taff’s Well back in the lead at 35-34 in a real points fest of a game.

Justin Jones was again proving to be a man for all seasons and a man for all positions, proving that he’s one of the most consistent and versatile players in a Taff’s Well shirt. With the game in the balance, it was Llantwit who were to rise to the challenge as they manufactured two more fine tries from full-back and out wide using sheer pace to split and stretch the Taff’s Well defence and take the score to 44-35 and a seemingly unassailable lead - but there was more drama still to come.

Whatever Taff’s Well lacked in defensive composure on the night, they certainly didn’t lack in endeavour and spirit as they were to set the blood levels pulsing with another foray into the Llantwit 22 for Close to burst through the centre for another converted try and a tantalising score of 44-42 in the Valemen’s favour with minutes remaining. Alas, it was to be a bridge too far as in the dying seconds, Llantwit were to gain reward for their attacking intentions by sealing the game with a scorching effort by their flying winger to take them into the final with a 51-42 scoreline and a chance for everyone to regain their breath in a humdinger of a game.         

           Final score:   Taff’s Well 42 v 51 Llantwit Major


The Verdict

With so many injuries and unavailability’s, this was always going to be a test for the squad and it’s testament to the spirit within the club that even though there's has been a long list of injuries, players are still willing to step in and play for the badge and despite the defensive frailties on the night, this was a Llantwit side containing several players who looked sharp and they took their chances well. The Taff's Well backs always looked dangerous with full-back Tom Benjamin as the standout but the passing all too often broke the stride of the line and through conceding tries, lessons will need to be learnt in respect of man-to-man marking and closing off space when drifting as a defensive line against players with pace.

The forwards gave another honest account of themselves with flanker Rhys Green finishing the season off strongly and Taff’s Well Man-of-the-Match Justin Jones showed that it doesn’t matter where you are picked, it’s the heart that counts. Axel Rees will have been disappointed at the result but pragmatic as this game was there for the taking despite the circumstances and the two teams mamaged to cook up a great spectacle with 93 points on the board and the result in doubt up until the final moments.

The lads now face three games in eight days starting with Treherbert away tomorrow, high flying Abercwmboi at home on Tuesday and unbeaten Cambrian away next Saturday so emphasis will now centre on getting key players back in action and to finish the season strongly, especially as the worst Taff’s Well can finish is fifth in their first season of promotion - no mean feat. A special mention for the travelling support at the match, I know it's greatly appreciated by both the coaching staff and the players sp please keep it up.

For all those travelling to watch the Treherbert match, the team bus will be leaving at 12.45pm and leaving to return at 5.30pm.


Dave Beese  mail  davecbwales@gmail.com

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