WRU ONE EAST CENTRAL
DOWLAIS 27 LLANHARAN 19 (HT 17-0)
Played on Merthyr’s hi tech 4G pitch, this was the proverbial game of two halves.
Settling first on the synthetic surface, the home team enjoyed the lion’s share of ball and with it territorial dominance, even though the bounce occasionally bamboozled both attackers and defenders.
With Llanharan suffering two yellows, the Dowlais side built up a telling points advantage despite the visitors’ great defensive effort.
However, it seemed the Dairymen had been thrown a life line just before half time when Maesteg referee Richard Brace had no hesitation in showing the red card to Dowlais skipper Adam Cullen for a reckless dangerous tackle which left opposing captain Huw Thomas distinctly the worse for wear.
To his credit the Builth product struggled bravely on after lengthy treatment, but the departure of his side’s talisman in the second half left Black and Blues supporters wondering just who had gained most from the sending off.
As it was, Llanharan did their best to get something out of the game, but at times were too frenetic with the line a begging, putting to bed just three chances when it could have been double that number - Dowlais were even down to thirteen for the last five minutes thanks to a yellow card.
The opening 40 minutes belonged to the Merthyr outfit, waves of attack only kept out by desperate defence.
But a yellow for second row Richard Hart proved significant, as scrum pressure allowed Lloyd Hynes to feed full back Tom Griffiths and then add the conversion before Llanharan were back to full strength.
They were soon down to fourteen again as Evan Parry-John was binned and it was during his absence that Dowlais rattled up another ten points.
Outside half Hynes hit a penalty and then put the extras on Bleddyn Rees’s try, the wing pouncing on a bouncing kick for the touchdown.
The away team threatened only twice, Jamie Williams crowded out after a fifty yard Llanharan surge, and then a three scrum-fives sequence coming to grief on a penalty.
But Cullen departed just before the turn around and suddenly prospects of a comeback seemed realistic.
Indeed the first try came just two minutes after the restart, Morgan Williams putting the finishing touch after outside half Rhodri Jones had split the defence.
Williams was prominent again, combining with Parry-John in another attack, but Llanharan suffered significant blows to their hopes mid-way through the half with Hynes landing another three points and then, just after Thomas’s departure, Rees flat footing the defence with a diagonal run from the left wing to the posts.
The kick made it 27-5, but at last the Dairyfield men sprung to life. Fifteen minutes from time Williams did well to get over the line for his second, Rhodri Jones converting, followed by Kieran Martin touching down from Jones’s pass, Parry John this time adding the kick, and Llanharan were in the hunt for at least a double bonus point.
They did everything but score, an element of unnecessary desperation often denying them success, then suffered the ultimate frustration with just thirteen against them by twice conceding penalties in the home twenty two.
One of Llanharan’s problems in a year of rebuilding is an understandable inconsistency, especially with so many new young players, but constant changes in selection caused by injury and unavailability have not helped either, the starting line up going into this game at the Wern showing another six changes behind and one up front from the starting XV that went on to beat St Joseph’s so well the previous weekend.
This game added to the problem with back row Richard Lawrence a first half ankle victim and Thomas hoping this weekend’s break will aid a quick recovery
Dowlais tries – Bleddyn Rees 2, Tom Griffin. Cons 3 and pens 2 Lloyd Hynes.
Llanharan tries: Morgan Williams 2, Kieran Martin. Cons: Rhodri Jones and Evan Parry- John
15 Evan Parry-John
14 Morgan Williams
13 Lloyd Thomas
12 Gareth Dyer
11 Jamie Williams (Jack Pring 60)
10 Rhodri Jones
9 Adam Williams
1 Rhys Taylor
2 Gethin Cashmore (Sam Llewellyn 60)
3 Matt Phillips
4 Richard Hart
5 Lee Morris
6 Kieran Martin
7 Richard Lawrence (Morgan Griffiths 29)
8 Huw Thomas (Capt) (Dai Pearson 58)