Match Report from Ted
On a good morning for rugby (relatively dry, not much wind and just a little give in the ground), Llanharan under 16’s took on Pentyrch, a team they narrowly beat away just after Christmas.
As usual, there were mistakes right from the off (cold hands and the boys still waking up), but the Llanharan backs put the ball wide, playing to their strength, being probably the smallest under 16 side in South Wales. Tom Whittaker, who was psyching out the opposition already with some choice comments, put a lovely kick through for Rhys Newman to show fantastic speed and some cool dribbling skills, to beat the defending winger and touch down for an early try. Conversion from Leon Burton went just wide of the right hand upright. 5-0 to Llanharan.
Two nasty habits from the home side then started to creep into the game, namely putting Pentyrch under pressure then letting them off the hook with silly penalties, and a massive obsession with putting boot to ball, when their strength is passing.
From one of these penalties, the Cardiff side worked their way right down into the home 22 but Llanharan stole the lineout and escaped with a relieving kick. The home side backs put it through the hands once again but Pentyrch intercepted. Chris Osbourne tracked back in pursuit and hauled the centre down but it was deemed high. Pentyrch kicked to within 5 metres of the home line, and from the resulting lineout and maul, their outside half ghosted between the defenders to score under the posts. The easy conversion made it 5-7.
A replay of the previous play (high tackle and kick to touch) put the home side under immediate pressure from the restart. A knock-on relieved the pressure once again.
Llanharan then started to play some off-load rugby but that was brought to an abrupt halt by a return to the kicking obsession, first from Callum Evans, then Rhys Newman. This was beginning to really frustrate the small band of loyal fans watching but form a rare Pentyrch kick in their own 22, there was a great charge down from Elliot Jenkins and he scored under the posts. The conversion was good this time, 12-7 to Llanharan.
Immediately from the kick off Dylan John got over the ball and turned it over with a prize jackal, but the resulting kick stayed in field. Pentyrch ran it back but the much bigger pack were held up over the line. Llanharan got a chance to clear their lines from the scrum but yet again their kicking was not good enough and when the ball was brought back into the 22, the Pentyrch outside half was in for his second try. 14-12 to Pentyrch.
There were some glimpses of individual effort, with Jack Jeffries proving very difficult to bring down but Llanharan weren’t really playing as a team today.
The second half started with Pentyrch continuing their game plan of hard runners taking the ball at pace around the fringes of rucks. Llanharan’s tackling was manful, and eventually they broke out. Rhys looked like he was away but a great covering tackle from the Pentyrch full back.
The home side’s kicking obsession got even worse as the half wore on but they were kept in the game by their competitive lineout, with Dylan John consistently putting pressure on the opposition jumpers. But what was becoming increasingly obvious was the home side tiring while Pentyrch brought on fresh legs. As usual, though, the effort levels from Llanharan were massive. Eventually they’re spurred on by Keiron Thomas using his speed to break through the middle but he’s tackled high. Jack Jeffries made good yards from the scrum but not for the first time, a home side player is left isolated due to lack of support. Despite this, they worked their way well into the Pentyrch 22 and Leon Burton almost crossed but he’s stopped by desperate defence. Llanharan were really giving this a go against a much bigger team (as usual) with Cardiff Blues players in their ranks.
With Llanharan under pressure, the ball was turned over and Ioan makes a great run into the Pentyrch half but was again stopped by the full back. The kicking continued and it was no surprise that from a loose one, the Cardiff side eventually created an overlap and scored under the posts. 21-12 to Pentyrch.
With Llanharan now trying desperately to come back, the away side cannily started to give up some penalties in their own 22 rather than concede tries. The game ended almost inevitably, with Llanharan being awarded a penalty on the halfway line, tapping the ball and chipping the ball ahead!
Final score Llanharan u16’s 12 Pentyrch u16’s 21