Llanharan U16’s vs St Julian’s HSOB U16’s 30/4/17
Match Report from Ted
Llanharan u16’s travelled to Newport for their last ever fixture as a junior rugby side to face St Julian’s HSOB RFC. With the rain not forecast to come in until after the final whistle, not a breath of wind and a really firm pitch, conditions were perfect.
There was a palpable feeling of anticipation around the 16 boys in the squad, and they were obviously looking to win well to give themselves a feel-good mentality through the Summer and into pre-season training for youth rugby in September.
The game was very physical right from the kick-off (some of the boys have really come of age this year) with the two teams evenly matched and looking to play. From a scrum, the St Julian’s backs showed some powerful, direct running (something the Newport team were to do consistently throughout the game) but the outside half chipped ahead and the ball travelled over the try line, Jacob Sayers touching down for a 22 drop-out.
Llanharan then worked their way down into the opposition half with their customary passing game. Four phases later, with the ball going from one touchline to another, they were in under the posts for the opening try from Lloyd Gregory, easily converted by Morgan Johns.
St Julian’s came right back into the game with some really hard running around the fringes, players consistently taking the ball at pace, but the Llanharan tackling was heroic and eventually, the defence forced a knock-on.
Llanharan chose to run their way out of their 22 and it paid off when Elliot Jenkins went in under the posts at the other end for the second try. The conversion made it 14-0 to the away team
From the restart, Jack Jeffreys performed his customary powerful run through most of the opposing team but spoilt it by losing the ball. Now Llanharan were running it from everywhere and from a scrum on half-way, 3 sets of well-timed hands put Reece Newman in the clear. He stepped the full back to go in for the third try. 21-0 to Llanharan and things were all going to plan.
From the restart, the junior dairymen got a little too ambitious in their own 22, knocking on. From the scrum, the St Julian’s outside half, who was coming into the game more and more, once again brought on his outside backs with some powerful, well-timed runs. Llanharan did well to keep them out but one tackle went above the horizontal, giving the home side the first of what was to become many penalties.
Four penalties later, all of which were scrum options, St Julian’s go in for their first try which was converted from wide out. 21-7 to the visitors, and the game was now beginning to turn.
A great move from a scrum then put Tom Whittaker through the middle. Llanharan almost got over for a fourth but were penalized for holding on followed by a further penalty for lineout encroachment. The penalty count was now 8-2 in the home side’s favour. They were obviously getting on the wrong side of the ref but carried on battling. Nobody epitomized this more than Reece who received the ball on the wing once again, and proceeded to beat countless defenders with a variety of footwork. The scoring pass to Tom was judged to be forward.
St Julian’s then worked their way into the visitors’ 22 with some lovely kicking from their number 10. Then followed another flurry of penalties to the home team, all taken as scrums, and inevitably the try came from their centre. Another great conversion from the stand-off, who looked like a star in the making, made the score 21-14 to Llanharan at half-time.
From the kick-off, some great passing from Llanharan got them off to a good start. Then from a scrum, a great outside break from Mitchell Hall (is he hooker or a centre!?) took him close to the line. Crucially he didn’t die with the ball and off-loaded to Dylan John, who was on his shoulder for the try. The conversion gave some breathing space. 28-14 to Llanharan.
That turned out to be the last bit of positive rugby of the day, as the game lost its structure. The ref seemed to lose control of a game that up until this point, had been played in very good spirits.
The penalty count against the away team kept on mounting (I think it reached 14-3 but I’m not sure as I lost count!) and with the visitors being marched back 10m for backchat, it all got a bit silly.
Eventually, the inevitable fisticuffs broke out, and the referee amazingly had no hesitation in abandoning the game, even though it was the first altercation of the whole match. A real shame as the game could have continued, but things were spoilt for the home team as well as the visitors.
So a strange feeling at the end of junior rugby for these boys. They’ll take the win into the Summer, however, as well as the great style of passing rugby that they displayed not only today, but throughout the season as a whole. They no longer play as individuals but as a whole team and have scored some fabulous tries as a result. Well done to every single player and see you in June at pre-season training for what’s going to be a fabulous first season of youth rugby.