Llanishen RFC | 1st Team 36 - 29 Taffs Well RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
03 March 2019 / Team News

Taff’s Well Thwarted 36-29 by Llanishen in Last Play of the Match

This was the a must-win match for both sides as the battle to avoid the drop intensifies and Llanishen’s cause has been boosted with the opening of their magnificent new 4G pitch which sits in the grounds of Llanishen High School.

Positive Start

Although the home side were the first to show, the danger was averted with a good scrum and drive which enabled Taff’s Well to take play up to the home 22 but with the overlap created, the final pass went harmlessly into touch. Minutes later, the visitors set up camp with an attacking 12m scrum which enabled outside-half Matthew Hurley to thread through a lovely grubber for centre Justin Jones to latch on to and touch down for Hurley to convert. Llanishen were quick to respond with a nice chip and chase which was safely minored in the dead ball area but with the Taff’s Well front losing their footing front the resulting scrum, influential No.8 Alex Bourne broke to barge through and stretch over for the equalising try and conversion by centre Tom Hannah - 7 all.

Tit for Tat Breaks

Taff’s Well scrum-half Gwilym Edwards is in a rich vein of form and although breaking the cover to put second-row Ben Atkin away, play was brought back for a forward pass. For Llanishen, it was centre Hannah who would be a threat throughout the afternoon and although the ball was knocked-on as a result of one of his breaks, Taff’s Well were penalised at the scrum but the effort sailed wide of the posts. Hannah was at it again returning the drop-out with interest and earning his side an attacking scrum from which co-centre Miles Anderson would profit from a short pass to glide over for another Hannah converted try. 14-7

Superb Edwards Catch

Llanishen looked to counter with a high up and under which was diffused by a superb jumping catch by scrum-half Edwards who took the ball under extreme pressure to enable full-back Ronan Barratt to scorch down the right wing to set up a ruck from which the ball was sped along the worked overlap for second-row to plough over for a great try. 14-12. This was a highly competitive game which was good on the eye as both sides looked to go wide when they could. Llanishen were shading the territory battle but then came some killer blows for them. As they attacked from a scrum on the visitors 40m line, the ball was fed only for the ever-alert Edwards to pick it out of the air and dart a full 60m from a desperate covering defence and touch down under the posts for Hurley to convert and put Taff’s Well back in the game.

Second Interception

With Llanishen probably considering this a glitch, they recovered possession from the kick-off and duly set-up an attacking platform but in a carbon copy incident and as the ball was fed wide, full-back flier Barratt sniffed the opportunity to snatch the ball and set-off with only one outcome likely – a touchdown under the posts and a rather manic few minutes putting Taff’s Well in control. This Llanishen team is made of stern stuff and immediately managed to hit back with a move from half-way which created the overlap to put flanker Noah Callaghan over and a half-time score of 24-19 to Taff’s Well. Gripping stuff and plenty to shout about with second-row Daryl Mota putting in a good shift alongside the ever-reliable open-side Ben Wood who was putting in his customary tackles, whilst in the backs centre Ryan Smith was putting in some nice touches in attack and defence.

Half-time Score:  Llanishen 19 – 24 Taff’s Well

Second Half

With the set-pieces solid, Taff’s Well started to earn some meaningful territory but the home side were organising an effective rush defence. It took of a moment of front five magic to add to the scoreboard as a clever Jon Barry line-out move set hooker Matthew Desmier careering down the touchline to pass inside to front-row colleague and prop Lloyd James who looked as though he was well covered. Maybe so, but with sheer determination, he managed to fend off the would-be tacklers to storm over in the corner for a wonderful try which stretched the score to 29-19.

Nip and Tuck

Following a bit of ping pong kicking, Taff’s Well would be the first to blink conceding a 10m lineout which set up a Llanishen drive which was brought to a halt by a knock-on thanks to some resolute defence. It was Llanishen who were now regaining territory which saw a missed penalty effort and a kick through which saw a desperate defence hold the ball up on the line. From a series of scrums, the Taff’s Well defence managed to put enough pressure on to force the ball out of hand and see full-back Barratt kick and chase out of trouble into the Llanishen half only to concede a penalty when the home side looked in all sorts of trouble.

Slack Marking Costs

With the Taff’s Well pack securing some good possession, it enabled outside-half Hurley to bust the gain-line but perhaps the option should have been to keep ball in hand as the chip went harmlessly dead as the line approached. The opportunity would come back to haunt the visitors as a bad pass coughed up possession to enable a break down the right which eventually saw right-wing replacement Jack McKensie go over to bring the score back to 29-24. Early jokes about the two sides settling for four tries each and settling for a four-point apiece result were looking a little more likely, especially as Taff’s Well were to suffer the blow of seeing speedster Barratt limping off with a foot injury.

Controversy Looming

With in-form second-row Ben Atkin also off injured, the home side were sniffing blood and despite some determined defence against a series of scrums, centre Miles Anderson took advantage of some slack marking and an overlap to cross over and tie the score with the conversion going wide. This was tense stuff and both sides looking happy to settle for a draw and four points apiece. The result looked dead and buried as pressure at the ruck saw Llanishen scrum-half Mark Stubbs seemingly knocked the ball forward with the last move of the game which resulted in an audible sigh from the Llanishen crowd and a relieved shout from the Taff’s Well contingent - but rather inexplicably to most observers, play was waved on to see the home side whip the ball along the line against a fragile looking Taff’s Well defence and a gleeful home crowd witness replacement flanker Elliot Swindlehurst steal the game at the death against a non-plussed and dejected looking Taff’s Well side.

Final Score:  Llanishen 36 – 29 Taff’s Well

The Verdict

First and foremost, this was an entertaining game of rugby involving two sides who are fighting it out to avoid relegation and there was much quality on show from a Llanishen side who looked dangerous with ball in hand and a Taff’s Well outfit who clinically took their chances.  This division seems to throw up a surprise result every week and bonus points will be crucial and this defeat will hurt as with Llanishen three points ahead of Taff’s Well at the start of play, the last minute try could prove to be crucial when the knife comes out.

Home Advantage

As with pitches of this nature, Llanishen as the home controlled the kicking game better than Taff’s Well as the bounce or the ball confused a few defensive measures but with No.8 Alex Bourne in barnstorming mood, the pack were abrasive and it was a good honest dust-up between the two packs. Centre and goal-kicker Tom Hannah proved a handful aided and abetted by his co-centre Miles Anderson with full-back Sam Williams showing his attacking prowess and they will be delighted with the win.

Taff’s Well Plusses and Minuses

The scrums again were good and the pack didn’t take a step backwards with standouts flanker Ben Wood and Daryl Mota leading the way. Coach Rhys Watkins looked furious with the circumstances of the last try but much of that would be concerned with the failure of Taff’s Well to close out the game with the much-needed points seemingly in the bag. Centre Ryan Smith showed how he has developed over the past two seasons but it would be Gwilym Edwards who took the man-of-the-match award with a typically tenacious performance which saw him go through his full bag of tricks in both attack and defence. No lack of effort and a draw would have been the popular result but not for the first time this season, the last few seconds have proved to be our undoing.

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Dave Beese  mail

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