Fixture

Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 43 - 0 Old Illtydians RFC | 1st Team
Matthew Wright
Try 1
Ronan Barrett
Try 1
Bradley James
Try 1
Christopher Tottle
Try 1
Lloyd James
Try 1
Brandon Thrasher
Conversion 4
Penalty 1
Gwilym Edwards
Try 1

Match Report
31 December 2017 / Team News

Taff’s Well Continue Good Form With 43-0 Win Against Old Illtydians

Saturday completed a profitable Christmas programme for Taff’s Well scoring 88 points in two league games without conceding a single point in return; add a 4th round cup win to that and you will start to understand why 1st team Manager Hywel Graham and Coach Axel Rees were looking like a pair of Cheshire Cats during the evening.

Another Great Home Crowd

These days, it has to be a great feeling pulling on the Taff’s Well shirt  and stepping out at Maes Gwyn in front of big crowds which today was augmented by the 42 strong Vice-Presidents of the club, who consist of many players who played such a part in the past glories of a club steeped in history. It really is worth chatting to some of these guys who pulled on the ‘V’ shirt for the village and who covered themselves in glory playing against the likes of British Lions and more than holding their own in the process; do you know who the only village side in the world to play the famous Barbarians is? Clue? If you attended today’s match, then you would have seen some of the players who took part.

To League Business

Today’s game featured two teams with contrasting fortunes as Taff’s Well lay second by three points in the league with a game in hand over leaders Abercwmboi and the Old Illts in the lower half after being relegated from Div. 2 last season but this didn’t stop them coming to Taff’s Well without any ambition as they were both aggressive up front and willing to play rugby from their own line throughout.

Opening Points

With squad rotation the order of the day and more players returning to the fold, it was outside-half Brandon Thrasher who was to open the scoring with a straightforward penalty shot which was quickly followed by something of a comedy try with the ball ricocheting back and forth off several players before hooker Bradley James profited by scampering through the confusion to score a Thrasher converted try.

Backs Backing Themselves

Taff’s Well looked to learn from the hard-earned and frustrating cup victory over Treharris as the backs looked more relaxed and went through a series of miss-moves looking to create space but with the soft pitch playing a part, the clinical edge was something that needed to be worked on – but the intent was certainly there. A huge facet of the game was the contribution of the Taff’s back-row with No.8  Rhys Watkins and flankers Rhys Green and Conor Barrett in close attendance proving the difference between the sides as they chased and harried everything that moved or was unluckily enough not to.

Tottle Tackle Off-load

In a half which saw Taff’s Well fairly dominate but unable to convert possession and territory into points – thanks mainly to the defensive efforts of Old Illts left wing Ben Kizzle and back-rowers Rhys Hutchings and Joe Poole – Taff’s Well were to finish with a well-worked effort which saw left wing Jack Shaddick halted 5m out and the ball moved from right to left and back again to put full-back Chris Tottle into space to superbly off-load the ball in the tackle and send in prop Lloyd James for a comfortable half-time lead of 17-0 thanks to the Thrasher conversion.

Half-time Score:  Taff’s Well 17 v 0 Old Illtydians


Second Half

Price is Right

Credit where credit is due, the game had two teams who were willing to play rugby but the man in the middle decides to what effect, today saw Ynysddu referee Anthony Price produce one of the best refereeing displays I’ve seen at this level as he let the game flow with a ‘feel’ which is sometimes lacking as being constantly assessed can cramp natural instincts.

Wright Option

The home side picked up where they left off applying all the early pressure which resulted in a penalty earned lineout 5m out and possession drilled wide for centre Matthew Wright to cap a good game as he burst on the ball from an angle to twist over for Thrasher to again convert. Defence had been a huge feature for Taff’s Well up to now as the partnership of Wright and co-centre Ryan Smith had shut the door in that area and the inside channels had been well-covered by scrum-half Gwilym Edwards and outside-half Thrasher who was enjoying his best game of the season to date.

Barry Burst

With the score standing at 24—0 in the home’s side favour, the visitors have to be commended for refusing to sit down but every time they neared the Taff’s Well line, defence was turned into attack with play taken down to the opposition 20m. After several such counter-attacks downfield, ever-reliable second-row Jon Barry burst through the defence to feed scrum-half Edwards with a great pass to put him over the whitewash and secure the extra try bonus point as Thrasher added the extras.

Extra Long Bench Needed

With the game in the bag, coach Axel Rees started to get quotes for a longer bench as the list of long-term absentees returning continues. The field filled with the likes of prop Graeme Harvey, second-row Daryl Mota and youth wing Tom Cattle who provided no respite for a tiring but gallant Old Illts outfit who obtained parity in the scrums but were unpicked in the lineout thanks to some nefarious pilfering by Conor Barrett who nuisance factor rises by the week.

Smith – Tottle Combo Reposte

With the visitors refusing to cave in, they again pressed into the Taff’s Well 20m but were again turned over for centre Smith to break and put in a cultured pass to send away full-back Tottle who was enjoying his best attacking game to date and subsequently sprinting  80m to put the game out of sight as he touched down for Thrasher to convert.

Barrett Breakaway

Impressively, Old Illts again attacked to try and get something out of the game and they looked likely to succeed as they worked an overlap on the left 5m out but as the high pass was sent out to the wing, Taff’s Well right-wing Ronan Barrett got a finger-tip to the ball and juggled to hold on and score from a 95m sprint to end a frustrating game for the visitors but delight for a cock-a-hoop home crowd who witnessed a bonus six try win and a backline that has scored 83 of the 103 points that have been scored over the three Xmas games.

Final Score:  Taff’s Well 43 v 0 Old Illtydians


The Verdict

This win sealed an impressive Christmas for Taff’s Well but the harder games are to come and the lads will be under no illusions about this fact but two bonus point league wins and a cup win is all you can ask for. The pack continues to profit from a strong bench which has welcomed back several influential players over the festive season and this bodes well for the longer haul.  The set-pieces remain solid with the squad front row of Atkin, Desmier, Lloyd James, Bradley James and Graeme Harvey providing the platform while Jon Barry continues his master-class to his young apprentice Ethan Prescott in the second-row.  The hottest place for competition in the squad appears to be in the back row as any permutation seems to do the trick; today’s trio managing without No. 8 Max Watkins and club Captain Lewis Edwards.

Tough Day for the Illts

The visitors may not be enjoying the best of seasons but they turned up with a refreshing willingness to run the ball from anywhere and will be disappointed that they were thwarted by a resolute Taff’s Well defence that was used to initiate attacks from deep. The Illts back row combination of flanker Joe Poole and No. 8 Rhys Hutchings carried well with lively wing Ben Kizzle showing an appetite for both attack and some great defence.

The Man in the Middle

Firstly, it’s not often you get to compliment a referee on his performance but up and coming referee Anthony Price showed that with a knowledge of the game, communication, good fitness, a feel and sympathetic approach towards the intention of the players and a willingness to play advantage – the game can flow and the players can have the opportunity to express themselves – a star in the making? Just found that he was being assessed too, even more impressive.

Packing the Plaudits

The pack has been taking the plaudits to date and rightly so but today it was the turn of the backs to put last week’s disappointing performance behind them and provide the ammunition to punish the Illts with some fine defence and tries which looked good on the eye. Full-back Chris Tottle looked good running from deep with half-backs Gwilym Edwards and outside-half Brandon Thrasher combining to make the latter the Player’s Man-of-the-Match thanks to some fine running, distribution, tackling and 13 points from the boot.

The Difference

If it was the backline who provided the cutting edge with 33 points and playing their part in nilling the opposition for the second league game in succession - it was the back-row who caught the eye with Rhys Watkins continuing his fine season playing out of position at No.8 and Flankers Conor Barrett and Rhys Green making outstanding contributions - ‘Beanie’ Green just nudging it as my Man-of-the-Match following his first full game back from long-term injury. Superb defence and an appetite to contest every breakdown he was near, Green was a thorn in the flesh for the entire match and it will be interesting to see how coach Axel Rees will handle the embarrassment of riches that is starting to grow in the back-row.

Next up…

Next week’s league will be away to Cefn Coed but we think they will be playing on a different ground than usual so keep your eyes on the social media. 


Dave Beese  mail davecbwales@gmail.com

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