Yardstick of Improvement - 07/01/2012 - BONYMAEN
SWALEC ONE WEST
LLANHARAN 29 BONYMAEN 17 (HT 17-0)
This four tries bonus point victory against lowly Bonymaen was further evidence for head coach Matthew Lloyd that his team is heading in the right direction.
Llanharan have lost only twice in their last nine league matches, and if a yardstick of improvement was needed then there could have been no better opponents than the Swansea Valley team.
Back in September the Dairymen gave an erratic and inconsistent display to lose 21-11, but on Saturday there was only going to be one winner.
In fairness to the visitors they looked a well drilled outfit for large parts of this encounter, and looked on the verge of a notable fight back in the second half when despite trailing 17-3 they launched concerted phases of attacking rugby to test Llanharan’s defence.
However, alert wing Steffan Jones dashed their hopes, snatching an interception and racing the length of the field for Chris Williams to convert and put his side three scores ahead.
It was the cue for Dai Atkins’s men to resume command and march on to victory.
The crowd enjoyed a bright opening and there were defence stretching runs by wings Jones and Josh Austin before Williams’s penalty opened the scoring in the 15th minute.
As play progressed, the Llanharan forwards, particularly the scrum, were at the heart of so much good play and mounted unrelenting pressure for the first try to the clear delight of forwards’ coach Colin Malone.
A good Williams kick and fine line out opportunism from Mathew Strong established a threatening field position that heralded a nonstop scrummaging assault.
After a string of set piece penalties Cwmbran official Julian Smith eventually lost patience and yellow carded back row man Dan Griffiths, Nathan Huish’s pack ruthlessly exploiting their advantage to earn a penalty try, Justin Benfield illegally deprived of the credit for the touchdown.
Williams converted and Llanharan were on their way. Another wide run by Austin and a Williams break allowed the home team to pile on more pressure, hooker Huish claiming his 4th try of the season and the conversion establishing a useful 17-0 half time lead.
However, Bonymaen were given hope as Mr Smith next yellow carded Atkins for a trip offence. Richard Cunniffe pulled back three points with a penalty, but they were constantly thwarted by Llanharan’s fine back foot work, Benfield and Williams combining well to eventually clear their lines.
Nice touches from flanker Scott Malone and centre Rhys Lakin helped them see out the remainder of the yellow card safely only for the Dan Clancy’s side to launch their best attacking spell.
Jones’s interception was crucial, although there was further encouragement for the club that will join Llanharan in the new Welsh championship next year as a trip in the follow through of a kick gave them a penalty try, Cunniffe’s kick reducing the leeway to fourteen points at 24-10.
It represented only a brief interruption to black and blue momentum though, some brilliant play from Codey Rees allowing Austin to squeeze in at the corner, his well taken try putting him top of his team’s try scorers on five.
With the game into time added on, Llanharan’s concentration lapsed uncharacteristically to allow wing Joe Millen a consolation try converted by Cunniffe, adding some respectability to what was in essence a decisive defeat for the Swansea men.
15 Codey Rees
14 Josh Austin
13 Rhys Lakin
12 Dai Atkins (Capt.) (Loren Quick/blood 61)
11 Steffan Jones
10 Mike Thomas (Loren Quick 65)
9 Chris Williams
1 James Greenfield (Sam Pick 71)
2 Nathan Huish (Rhys Cleverly 71)
3 Tom Piper (Nick Kibble71)
4 Bill Carey
5Nick Eaves (Andrew Rosen 55)
6 Mathew Strong
7 Scott Malone
8 Justin Benfield
Llanharan scorers: tries - penalty try, Josh Austin, Nathan Huish, Steffan Jones; cons 3 and pen – Chris Williams
Bonymaen scorers: tries – penalty try, Joe Millen; cons 2 and pen – Richard Cunniffe.