Treherbert fought like a scolded cat in their fight to avoid relegation over a disappointing Taff’s Well side who failed to match the hunger of the home side in a match which turned out to be a bit of a shocker in terms of quality and excitement. With two games remaining against two of the top sides and shorn of a crop of players, Taff’s Well struggled with an error strewn game which suggested that the end of the season was nigh and minds were well and truly elsewhere.
Treherbert managed to get off the mark with a neat drop-goal before a Nick Hill grubber produced a lineout 5m from the Treherbert line and after pilfering the throw and earning a penalty, some quick thinking saw a quick tap for flanker Rhys Watkins to stretch over the line for the opening try which was converted by Hill. Thanks to a dominant scrum, early signs suggested that the home side were going to struggle as Taff’s Well gained a penalty and a subsequent lineout which gave winger Gavin Close the opportunity to barge his way towards the line only to be held up for an attacking scrum. After a succession of mighty shoves and resets, the referee lost his patience and awarded Taff’s Well a penalty try for Hill to convert and create a rosy looking lead of 14-3.
If this sounds exciting it doesn’t really tell the true story an error strewn half as the backline struggled to get any cohesion and too few forwards in the ruck area saw possession to scrum-half Corey Phillips way off anything that’s served on a silver platter. With Captain Gareth Gibbs giving his opposite number a torrid time at the set-piece, flanker Rhys Green again wore his heart on his sleeve with some aggressive defensive work providing some kind of antidote to the epidemic of high tackling which was to proliferate throughout the match as would-be defenders bounced off attackers or were penalised for their lack of discipline and poor technique.
With a rare excursion into the Taff’s Well 22, Treherbert earned some meaningful possession to create an attack down the left and ‘curious’ decision saw Ronan Barrett’s try saving wrap tackle and bundle into touch penalised into a penalty try and a yellow card for his efforts to bring the score back to 14-10 – at least, I think ‘curious’ is the word. In response, the visitors were to work their way back up to the home line to earn another penalty and a carbon copy set of circumstances saw Rhys Watkins take advantage of a another quick tap to emerge from a pile of bodies with ball in hand and the referee awarding the try which was again to be converted by Hill to show what appeared to be a comfortable enough first half lead at the break of 21-10
Half-time score: Treherbert 10 v 21 Taff’s Well
It was from this point on that the game really started to die a death punctuated by handling errors and home injuries in what seemed like every few minutes but the Treherbert side were starting to put their bodies on the line in their quest for survival and were in no mood to roll over. Having not touched the ball in the first half, full-back Chris Kidley-Burgwyn saw himself free on the wing with a straight sprint to the line but the pass to him was a poor one which subsequently saw him bundled into touch. Following a converted penalty, Treherbert managed to put themselves in bit of a mess from the restart but the attacking Taff’s Well scrum efforts came to nought as the ball was again passed forward just when things started to look promising.
Sniffing this could be their day, Treherbert started to up the tempo with a converted penalty and profiting from a yellow card to second-row Jon Barry for a high tackle, they got the necessary shove going forward form a 5m scrum to score a converted try and put themselves one point behind. As the game neared the end, there was really only one team in it as Treherbert monopolised territory and possession as well as showing more hunger. As ineffectual high tackles rained in and a third Taff’s Well yellow card for high tackling, the home side were bossing the breakdown and Taff’s Well were having to work hard to keep their line from being crossed again but the pressure had to tell and Treherbert were rewarded with a penalty which edged them into the lead at 23-21 with the clock ticking down.
Even though the home side were good for their lead and looking comfortable there was still one more moment of drama to come as Taff’s Well were awarded a penalty 30m out with the last action of the game and from being a comfortable second best during the second half, had the opportunity to steal the game at the death. With a deathly hush around the ground, Taff’s Well outside-half Nick Hill lined up his kick but the connection was not a good one and the ball sailed comfortably wide as the final whistle went and the Treherbert players and supporters celebrated wildly in a win they thoroughly deserved.
Final score: Treherbert 23 v 21 Taff’s Well
Tough one this, not an enjoyable report to be writing on a Sunday morning but anything other than an honest appraisal wouldn’t be fair to those who faithfully travel and support the side so here goes…
Coach Axel Rees has been frustrated by the growing injury list, unavailability’s and players dropping out at the last minute means that there’s been a huge strain on the squad but the team on paper was certainly good enough to win this game with plenty of experience and promising youth but I’m afraid there were far too many players who went ‘missing in action’, especially throughout the second half and it would have been an injustice to Treherbert if the game was stolen from them with the last kick. Indecision, wrong decisions, poor handling, too many high tackle attempts and lack of competition at the breakdown all played a part in comfortably the worst performance of the season.
Treherbert were fighting for their rugby lives and didn’t give up until the final whistle and it was evident that Taff’s Well couldn’t quite match that level of intent with a series of errors, poor defence and poor options. Home Captain and scrum-half Sam Hodder was the tormentor-in-chief and led from the front with his sniping runs which caused chaos in the Taff’s Well ranks.
The Taff’s Well back row battled gamely, with young Lewys Jones at flanker enjoying his step-up with a series of steals at the lineout and my Man-of-the-match Rhys Green showing that he revels in this kind of situation continually putting in tackles to snuff out threats. The incisiveness in the backs grew as the game wore on with 2nd XV scrum-half Corey Phillips doing his best to get his runners going but seldom did wingers Close and Barrett or full-back Kidley-Burgwyn get a chance to show what they could do with ball and space.
All in all, one to put at the back of the mind but good luck to Treherbert in their fight to avoid relegation. All thoughts will now turn to the next game where the coaching team will be hopeful that several returning players will be in the mix for Tuesdays visit of Abercwmboi KO 7.15pm.
On a more upbeat note, congratulations to the Youth XV who defeated Barry 47-7 away which puts them one win away from winning the league with one game remaining, against the same opposition on Thursday May 4th KO 7.30pm at Taff’s Well so don’t miss that one.
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