Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team 34 - 40 Barry RFC | 1st Team
Kyle Barros
4 Conversion
4 Penalty
Bradley White
2 Try
Tomos Perry
1 Try
Einan Scott
1 Try

Match Report
22 April 2019 / Team News

Taff's Well Preserve Div. 2 Status With Last Kick Of The Season

Last week’s big win at Aberdare had given Taff’s Well a sniff of preserving Div. 2 status but they had the daunting task of trying to stop an in-form Barry side that needed a win to secure promotion to Div. 1. The real problem for Taff’s Well – like other sides at the foot of the Div. 2 East/East Central/West /West Central – was that they were in the ridiculous situation of not knowing what the significance of any result would mean as the WRU had changed the goal-posts and not indicated how the calculation would be made to send down two extra clubs across four divisions. The only answer would be to have more points than Llanishen thus being taken out of the danger zone, and you felt that bonus points were going to be crucial thanks to the many possible permutations.

Graham Cox – Groundsman RIP

In brilliant sunshine, second-row Jon Barry led the team out on his 100th appearance in a Taff’s Well shirt followed by player-coach Justin Jones playing his last game to close down an illustrious career. Matters of rugby were temporarily pushed aside as the players formed a line to pay respect to former groundsman Graham Cox who died last week. Graham was responsible for making Maes Gwyn into one of the best playing surfaces in Wales and he will be sadly missed as a faithful supporter of Taff’s Well rugby. Thank you Graham.

Barry show early purpose

With the pack laying down a marker early in the scrums, outside-half Matthew Hurley was able to open his account with a penalty which was cancelled out by Barry full-back Kyle Barros. The visitors were starting to show purpose behind and a pop-pass saw centre Brad White steam through to score the first try of the match which was converted by Barros. Taff’s Well fullback Chris Tottle showed some neat footwork to send a chip over the top with the defence beaten but the ball refused to sit up and the attack was repelled.

Barry backline looking dangerous

The visitors where looking dangerous every time the ball went wide and Barros was to  punish Taff’s Well with two further penalties for lying-on and a high tackle before Hurley replied with a penalty which meant that with the score at 16-6, the home side would have to conjure something out of the hat to get back into the game. From a nudging scrum, No.8 Max Watkins broke to slip his markers and feed scrum-half Gwilym Edwards who carried the attack but a scrambling defence held on and play was brought all the way back to the half-way line for a penalty. The resulting lineout was unfortunately lost and cleared but good hands brought play back up to the Barry line before the touchline saved the day.

Scott stretches lead

Flanker Bradley James was doing his level best to stem the tide with some superb trademark tackles and the home side were desperate not to concede another score before half-time but that’s exactly what happened as Barros booted another penalty to make the lead 19-6 which meant that Taff’s Well where holding on to life in Div. 2 at the interval by their fingertips.

Half-time score:  Taff’s Well 6 – 19

Second Half

The omens where not good as although Taff’s Well where competing, it was the sharp edge of Barry’s play that was proving the difference and any thoughts of any losing bonus points where cast aside as some week defence enabled a slick overhead-inside pass to carve an opening for centre Tom Perry to cross for a converted try and a seemingly impossible gap of 26-6. Another try seemed a certainty as a three-man overlap approached the home 22 but some intelligent defending forced the move back infield where it was terminated. Hope sprang eternal as replacement scrum-half Craig Field intercepted and took off but as he attempted the pass inside, an illegally judged hand got in the way with a subsequent yellow card brandished to Barry by referee Shaun Moore.

Fighting back

With a man extra, Taff’s Well were to take a quick tap penalty which saw play taken to the Barry line but with the carrier isolated, a penalty was given and the opportunity lost. The numbers where to be evened up as centre Martin DeTorres was yellow carded and Barry were back with a 6m attacking lineout. As the maul rolled forward, the ball was knocked on and a 5m defensive scrum enabled Taff’s Well to take a breather. With thoughts of just clearing the ball prominent in most people’s heads, the ball was run wide to see full-back Tottle break upfield on a searing run which took play all the way up to the Barry 22m before he slipped a pass to wingman Ryan Smith in support who crossed for a great try and conversion – was there a way back at 26-13?

Pendulum swings again

As quickly as a seed of hope had been planted, it was to be blown away as the ball was lost off the restart and Barry outside-half Einon Scott deftly chipped over the top to collect and run in for a smart solo effort which was converted by Barros to take the score to 33-13. The game was starting to open up and a penalty won lineout on the Barry 10m mark saw hooker Matthew Desmier held up over the line. The 5m scrum yielded another attack which saw replacement flanker Connor Barrett held up again over the line but a penalty was awarded. A hefty shunt saw the Barry going backwards and conceded another penalty. With the scrum on top, the decision was taken to pack down again with another trundle forward seeing the flankers split and referee Moore losing his patience and awarding Taff’s Well a thoroughly deserved penalty try to bring the score back to 33-20.

And again…

With lessons not learned from the previous re-start, the ball was again surrendered for Barry to set up a driving maul from a 5m lineout to see hooker Alyn Evans cross the whitewash for a converted try and the lead back to twenty points. Surely no way back from here? Well.. if there’s one quality this Taff’s Well side has in abundance, it is the ability to fight to the very end and hope was again restored as a driving maul saw replacement John Stephens force his way over the line for Hurley to convert. As the seconds ebbed away and with Taff’s Well needing a converted try to get anything out of the game in the way of bonus points and Div. 2 survival - outside half-half Hurley put up a bomb which landed metres from the line to cause confusion in the Barry ranks with winger Ryan Smith taking the opportunity to take advantage and ground the ball to set up one of the most important conversions taken at Maes Gwyn.

Cometh the hour…

With triumphant yells still ringing around the ground and the whole of the season possibly hanging on his attempt, dead-eye goal-kicker Hurley made light of the situation by landing the conversion from the touchline with the last kick of both the game and the season and his last act for Taff’s Well before he emigrates to Australia. With the score at 40-34, Taff’s Well had secured one bonus-point for scoring four tries and another for losing by no more than seven points and with the news that Llanishen had lost to Abercynon - Taff’s Well were level with them on 43 points but had beaten the drop by having won one more game. What a totally incredible finish to a thoroughly entertaining game which saw Barry promoted and Taff’s Well safe in Division two after gaining promotion the previous season.

Final Score: Taff’s Well 34 v 40 Barry

The Verdict

I’m not sure who the scriptwriter has been for today’s game or for the women’s semi-final last week but I do know that he/she is certainly earning their money. Who could have predicted that the season could possibly have gone down to the last touchline conversion on the last kick of the match and both women's team kicker Shauna Bowman-Rees and Matthew Hurley earning their stripes in pressure-cooker situations. The last kick of the match typified the spirit of a side that plays to the end during a season which has been disrupted with so many injuries and coach Rhys Watkins will have slept well knowing that against all the odds, Taff’s Well pulled through when it mattered most.

The Game

Barry are a good side playing entertaining rugby and we wish them well for next season in Div. 1 but I suspect that they would have been frustrated at the way Taff’s Well kept on finding ways to score in a game they threatened to run away but which actually ended in a win by just six points. They were worthy victors but the Taff’s Well scrum caused all sorts of problems for them which resulted in a penalty try and if only possession could have been kept in crucial positions... ah well, we’ll never know, staying up is all that matters after such a hard season playing in a division with so many decent sides.

Squad Effort

I’m a bit loathe to single out players as the game signified that the result and campaign had been a season-long team effort backed up with second-team players who have come in and held their heads high but I do have to mention the efforts of hooker-come-flanker Bradley James who typified the Taff’s Well effort with a tenacious defensive display which also saw him earn several crucial turnovers. A fantastic and fitting end to an emotional season and good to see all the Taff’s Well and Barry players mingling after the game, no doubt sharing their own stories of the season. Due to extra commitments, I will be hanging up my quill this season after three seasons of so much excitement and hopefully, someone can carry the match reports on as the reach has enabled so many ex-players, supporters and members to keep in touch with events.

• Match fact: 14 kicks from the tee between the two sides and not one miss

Coming up…

The excitement isn’t over just yet as the Taff’s Well women take on Morriston women in the final of the WRU Bowl at Penallta’s ground in Ystrad Mynach next Sunday – KO 12.00pm. There will be a supporter’s bus (£3) leaving at 11.15am and you can book a place by contacting Teri Knight. Let’s get there in force and end the season on a real high.

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