Match Reports

First Team

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

TATA STEEL 10 LLANHARAN 9 (10-3)

Llanharan once more found themselves on the wrong end of a narrow defeat and again could identify crucial incidents where they just didn’t get the rub of the green.

It was little consolation that the home supporters magnanimously conceded the better side had lost, though at least the losing bonus point gave the beleaguered team a little encouragement alongside fellow strugglers at the bottom of the table.

The Dairymen had the edge for most of the game, the pack doing well in the scrums with several heads, and the defence formidable whenever the steelworks outfit attacked.

They asserted themselves in the first quarter, Josh Austin forcing a gap, Huw Thomas soaring high in the lineout, and back row men Dafi Davies and Scott Malone hungry for offensive action.

A reward came when Codey Rees banged over a 40 metres penalty, but momentum faded for a while with Tom Farrah-Evans carded allowing Steve Lewis to level the scores and then convert hooker Owain Thomas try against the depleted opposition after Llanharan had given away line out ball.

Even so, the away side seemed back on course as Morgan Williams galloped in on a right wing overlap only for a forward pass to be called despite those in line with the move swearing it had not transgressed.

Malone’s men got points on the board in the 54th minute with a second Rees penalty however, but the crumpling effect of their powerful scrum seemed to earn little recognition from Cardiff official Steve Nash.

Yet they seemed on course to break their losing run, pressure bringing a home yell0ow and then Tom Piper featuring strongly as attacks continued and led to a third Rees penalty.

Victory was now in sight as the pack with Simon Collins, Nathan Huish and Piper up front continued to take heads and looked to have been achieved as 39 metres Rees kick dipped at the last instant into the sea breeze.

Undaunted, they battled on to the end, the game ending as they scrummaged strongly in the corner only to fumble at the base with the referee, who generally handled affairs well, to end the game.

His  assertion that had they maintained the drive they would have been awarded a penalty      try  was scant consolation to the Dairyfield men.

But head coach Matthew Lloyd remained justifiably positive: “This  was certainly the most dominant the pack has been for the last three seasons without securing the win. Experience counts for a lot and the players are gaining that, unfortunately the win is eluding us but it certainly isn't far away. 

“The team is full of enthusiastic youngsters who are proud to wear the Llanharan jersey. It would be nice to see the whole club out Saturday supporting the boys on their push up the table in pursuit of securing Championship Rugby for another season. Let's hope Saturday brings an early Christmas present for all associated with Llanharan RFC. 

“If the Tata performance is anything to go by the players won't be lacking in effort or determination.”

A win against Bridgend Athletic on Saturday is now a must if Llanharan are to edge their way to a safer championship position.

15 Josh Austin

14 Ollie Smyth

13 Sam Edwards

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Morgan Williams (Rhys Morgan 72)

10 Codey Rees

9 Will Baird

 1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish

3 Tom Piper

4 Jack Davies

5 Bill Carey (Rory Martin-Smith  68)

6 Huw Thomas

7 Scott Malone                 (C)

8 Dafi Davies

Unused Replacements -

Gethin Cashmore

Joe Jones

Derek Tredway

Tata try: Owain Thomas. Con and pen: Steve Lewis.

Llanharan pens: Codey Rees (3).

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 7 SWANSEA 18 (HT 0-15)

When second from top plays second from bottom, perhaps a big score can occur – and so it seemed as Swansea coasted to three tries in fifteen minutes albeit with some clear offences in one of them.

Llanharan appeared to be mesmerised by facing the team relegated from the premiership last year and supporters looked on bemused as tackles were repeatedly missed, the All Whites momentum propelled by some early dominant scrummaging.

Rory Martin-Smith and Codey Rees helped stem initial pressure, but a heavy defeat seemed likely as a 15-0 lead materialised.

Llanharan gradually got their game together though to prevent any further first half score, despite a frustration fuelled by a penalty count that was hugely weighted against them.

They were unlucky to have Mike Powell and Will Baird leave the field injured before half time, Chris Williams and Sam Parker coming on as replacements.

Williams, a home product now with Bridgend, was playing on permit from the Brewery Field and was to be a prominent force throughout, while back row man Martin- Smith illustrated his football ability by performing competently in the three quarters.

It meant the Dairymen got to half time  with no further score against and they had plenty of play in the second half only to be further frustrated by Sam Parker’s yellow card and Dafi                     Davies’s disallowed try, a decision that left players and supporters bemused.

Their eventual try was a worthy reward for a display of character.

But the St Helen’s crew had got off to a flier, ahead after eight minutes, an overlap sending right wing Andrew Claypole over.

Swansea  were hard to contain in these early stages  and despite good tackling from prop Joe Jones, a driving maul and more weak defence saw left wing Joe Thomas cross the line.

The visitors’ third try was rather more fortuitous with a glaring knock forward providing the final pass for Dai Watts.

However, instead of putting themselves out of sight Swansea made hard work of it before the turn around and only a forward pass denied Josh Austin a try at the other end.

Tom Piper joined the fray at half time and the home scrum began to hold the opposing eight’s drive – but Nicky Thomas   added three points  to the visitors’ total with a penalty.

Yet it was Llanharan now asking the questions and some were directed at referee Rob Price as Dafi Davies rolled over the line in an unbroken momentum only to be bafflingly penalised for double movement.

There  was a further set back as Sam Parker  was carded, but to their credit Scott Malone’s men denied the away team a score in the ten minutes, everyone surprised to see Swansea opting for  a kick at goal despite a bonus point a begging with an extra man in their favour.

At full strength Llanharan hammered at the Swansea line and got their reward as Malone went over, Codey Rees, on permit at his old club from Newport, supplying a superb touchline conversion.

A losing bonus point suddenly seemed attainable, uplifting episodes provide by Tom Farrah-Evans’s break supported by the much improved Josh Austin after Rees’s clever chip kick, and then Malone and Davies driving to the line purposefully only for their  side to  run out of time.

On Saturday Llanharan will travel to Tata Steel needing to employ their second half resolve to get the win that would help them in a climb up the table.

Our scores:

Tries: Scott Malone, con: Codey Rees

Swansea  scores:

Tries: Andrew Claypole. Dai Watts, Joe Thomas, pen: Nicky Thomas

Team

15 Josh Austin

14 Josh Clark

13 Sam Edwards

12 Mike Powell (Sam Parker)

11 Tom Farrah-Evans

10 Codey Rees

9 Will Baird(Chris Williams 33)

 1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish (Gethin Cashmore 70)

3 Joe Jones (Tom Piper  HT)

4 Huw Thomas

5 Bill Carey (Jack Davies 70)

6 Dafi Davies

7 Scott Malone                                                                                       (C)

8 Rory Martin-Smith

Photos Sunday

 

MOUNTAIN ASH 8 LLANHARAN 17

Llanharan possessed just enough quality and power to see off the Mount challenge in this Friday night friendly.

And they did so after surviving a double yellow carding in the 60th minutes, swapping tries with the home team in that depleted spell to prevent any threat to the result, but eliciting a warning from head coach Matthew Lloyd that the underlying indiscipline was not something they could afford to replicate when the championship resumes on Saturday.

It was a good work out for both sides with Mount looking towards promotion after a good start in Swalec One East and facing Llantrisant next weekend.

They had the benefit of a mid district cup run out against Gilfach Goch earlier in the autumn international break, but Llanharan had remained inactive after two wet weather postponements.

So, with Swansea up next for the Dairymen it was important to successfully overcome this challenge and they did so with some good defence and speedy attacks, all based on a strong set piece.

Yet it was the Cynon valley outfit that got the first score as Sam Withers banged over a 12th minute penalty, but Llanharan were enjoying the territorial advantage.

Even so the away side found a score elusive despite bright contributions by the likes of scrum half Nick Theaker.

This was partly because of frequently falling foul of the whistle and conceding turnovers but the power of Bill Carey and his pack brought a penalty try which Rhys Morgan converted for a 7-3 half time score.

A second touchdown came after the turn around with a well executed driving line out maul which Gethin Cashmore put the finishing touch to.

The 12-3 advantage  looked under threat as Huw Thomas  was yellow carded at the end of the third quarter, followed seconds later by Carey as a few ill chosen words earned the ref’s displeasure

A good attack out right for Mount ended with Jordan Rees going over and their strong efforts brought a determined response, front rows Simon Collins, Tom Piper and Gethin Cashmore finding the reserves to make telling tackles.

However, Llanharan made victory certain as impressive attacking with Rory Martin-Smith doing particularly well saw Ollie Smyth score the third and final try.

Llanharan’s Lloyd added: “Our defence was solid against a good well organised side who will be pushing to secure Championship rugby for next season. We have a fully fit squad to choose from for the visit of Swansea next week. The whole club will be looking forward to hosting one of Welsh rugby's most famous clubs.”

A minute’s silence   was observed at the start in memory of cricketer Philip Hughes.

TEAM:

15 Josh Austin

14 Josh Clark

13 Sam Edwards

12 Morgan Williams

11 Tom Farrah-Evans

10 Rhys Morgan

9 Nicky Theaker

 1 Simon Collins

2 Gethin Cashmore

3 Tom Piper

4 Jack Davies

5 Bill Carey (C)

6 Dafi Davies

7 Sam Parker

8 Huw Thomas

Replacements used -

Rory Martin-Smith

Scott Malone

Ollie Smyth

Mike Powell

Scott Jones

  • Dafi Davies came through the game comfortably, making a successful comeback after another long lay off.
  • Photos  will be uploaded later

 

 

 

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

CARDIFF MET 19 LLANHARAN 18 (HT 13 8)

Another frustrating away day for Llanharan after outscoring the students 2-1 on tries, only to see the game decided on contrasting penalty kick fortunes.

The match had entered the final quarter when Owen Thomas kicked a monster penalty from 48 metres out and into the elements to edge the University 19-18 ahead.

Even so the Dairymen were very much on the front foot and got their own penalty chance soon after.

Young outside half Rhys Morgan struck the ball well and to all and sundry seemed to have recaptured the lead as it crept inside the left upright – all, that is, except the home touch judge whose negative signal persuaded the ref that it had failed.

There were still more chances as the Llanharan supremacy brought further penalties, but two more kicks went adrift.

The final exasperation for Bill Carey led Llanharan came at the death when a penetrating kick to the corner appeared to be thrown into touch by a defender only for the whistle to signal full time, leaving the visitors with just a losing bonus point.

Circumstance meant they went into the fixture with several changes, academy players unavailable, Jack Davies making a try scoring first appearance for Pontypridd, and skipper Scott Malone injured. Debuts were made by three-quarters Sam Edwards and Josh Clark and both had solid games.

Their side found itself chasing the game however, as Pierre Tucker grabbed a try, Thomas converting to add to his earlier penalty, and a single Morgan penalty their only reply.

But they were getting increasingly into the contest. A long Morgan penalty into touch gave good field position and, with home centre Barnie Moul yellow carded, Llanharan turned the screw.

A scrum was reset a third time and the outstanding Rory Martin-Smith wrestled his way over for a deserved score.

The conversion failed however, and Thomas penalties either side of half time established a 16-8 lead for the university.

As the game progressed it was Carey’s men who were getting the better of things though, albeit with little to show for it.

But victory prospects seemed get brighter despite a good chance looking to have been wasted when an overlap was ignored following Clark’s good run down the wing in the build up, as soon after back row man Martin- Smith showed impressive speed to run in a 70 metres interception try.

The conversion and a penalty from Morgan meant they held a18-16 lead - and then the fateful final events unfolded leaving Llanharan with another hard luck tale.

Said head coach Matthew Lloyd:

"Performance was much much better, with a little more luck would have won the game. ‎Thought we competed very well with the students and more than matched them in all aspects of the game. Again our scrum was strong but we once again were not rewarded here for our dominance. The month off will allow us to shake off a few injuries, but it is imperative we maintain our form after the break. We are in a dogfight to stay up but on this performance we a re more than capable of doing so. The squad is very strong but we have to be more consistent."

  • Llanharan players Josh Clark, Rhys Morgan and Nick Theaker wore odd socks in the game in memory of their former Pontyclun teammate Lewis Clark who tragically died in a road accident several years ago and whose trade mark kit appearance was always odd socks.

    Met scores

    Tries: Pierre Tucker

    Con: Owen Thomas

    Pens: Owen Thomas 4

    Llanharan scores

    Tries: Rory Martin-Smith 2

    Con: Rhys Morgan

    Pens: Rhys Morgan 2

Team:

15 Josh Austin

14 Josh Clark 

13 Sam Edwards

12 Mike Powell

11 Tom Farrah-Evans

10 Rhys Morgan

9 Nicky Theaker (Mathew Williams 60)

1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish

3 Tom Piper

4 Huw Thomas

5 Tom Williams

6 Sam Parker

8 Bill Carey

7 Rory Martin-Smith

Unused Replacements:

Aled Rees

Gethin Cashmore

Carl Leather

Morgan Williams

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 12 GLYNNEATH 13 (HT 12-3)

A second half revival allowed Glynneath to squeeze past Llanharan in this championship basement battle.

Defeat was a major disappointment to the home side, after some encouraging recent performances, had hoped to move up the table with victory over their fellow strugglers.

They seemed on course to do just that at half time with two tries in the bag and a 12-3 lead.

However, a huge tally of penalties against meant few telling phases were developed and they even found the weather against them as a fine first forty minutes changed to wind and rain in their faces after the turn around.

Glynneath had certainly come to do a job, and some of their play brought shouts of condemnation from the  stands, not least when influential outside half James Whittingham  was led off early in the second period after a late challenge that went unseen by referee Simon Wells.

The young Blues academy prospect was the team’s playmaker and goal kicker and his loss was to prove decisive.

However, Llanharan had set themselves up for victory by the end of the first half despite not looking as sharp as of late.

In fact it was a contest of much huffing and puffing, the Dairymen’s play frequently hit by the whistle while the visitors’ inaccurate passing and handling disrupted their own efforts.

The promoted west Walians took a lead through a Jack O’Reilly penalty, but Llanharan were beginning to threaten, good work by Morgan Williams, Jack Davies and Mike Powell starting to test the defence, only for the inevitable whistle to thwart their enterprise.

Kicks by Glynneath were causing little trouble to the likes of Harry Davies who did well under pressure and then on the half hour the breakthrough came as Whittingham hurtled through several tackles and managed to pop the ball up for right wing Davies to score.

Another followed five minutes later when a scramble for the loose ball in the left hand corner ended as wing Tom Farrah-Evans darted over, Whittingham’s conversion producing what seemed like a useful lead.

Yet as the wind and rain drove up field, Llanharan kept finding themselves at the wrong end of Mr Wells’s interpretations, despite their forwards appearing generally dominant, and O’Reilly hit a second penalty.

The killer blow for Llanharan came as another controversial set piece decision went against them and centre James Pike shrugged of a tackle to race through from forty metres out and score under the posts.

O’Reilly’s straight forward kick gave the newly promoted side a lead they were to hold onto.

The home side made valiant attempts to grab the much needed victory, Ross Pritchard, bound for Australia this week, finding a number of gaps.

A last chance arrived with a penalty award inside the twenty two left of the posts.

The thankless task was handed to Nick Theaker  with Whittingham injured, but into the wind the kick drifted left of the upright and Glynneath wound the clock down with their own albeit fruitless  kick at goal at the other end.

Llanharan will travel to Cardiff Met on Saturday hoping for an upturn in fortune where the respective coaches, the Dairymen’s Matthew Lloyd, a former captain at Cyncoed, and Chris Davey, previous captain and coach at Llanharan, will pit their wits against one another.

Scores

Llanharan tries – Harry Davies, Tom Farrah-Evans  cons -  James Whittingham 1

Glynneath try – James Pike con and 2 pens –Jack O’Reilly

 

15 Josh Austin

14 Tom Farrah-Evans

13 Morgan Williams

12 Mike Powell (Andy Humberstone HT)

11 Harry Davies

10 James Whittingham (Ross Pritchard 45)

9 Nicky Theaker

1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish

3 Tom Piper (Joe Jones 56)

4 Huw Thomas

5 Bill Carey (C)

6 Rory Martin-Smith (Tom Williams 42)

7 Sam Parker

8 Jack Davies (Joe Jones – yellow card/Simon Collins)

Unused Replacement:

Gethin Cashmore

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

NARBERTH   16 LLANHARAN 8 (HT 16-0)

A case of what might have been for Llanharan as the whistle repeatedly undermined a determined effort that under other circumstance could have brought victory.

Throughout the game their ambitions were thwarted by a one sided sequence of penalties, but the most crucial one came in the 44th minute.

The Dairymen had done reasonably well to restrict the Otters to a 16-0 half team lead, given the strong wind and decisive slope in the home side’s favour.

Indeed, the visitors looked in command as the second period ensued, only to find themselves a man short for the remainder of the game.

The unfortunate miscreant was Blues Academy prop Joe Jones who responded to an uppercut from an Otters front row man with a punishable if understandable couple of punches of his own.

The obligatory retaliation penalty seemed unavoidable, but the travelling supporters shouted loud disapproval as the loose head was shown red.

Even so, Llanharan did well with their depleted forces, keeping play in the home half and benefiting from a yellow card in their favour.

Scrum half Nick Theaker struck a penalty and then a drive from another penalty ended with Rory Martin-Smith capping an outstanding performance with a try.

Narberth’s main hope lay in a breakaway, and when it came Josh Austin snuffed out the danger with a touch line tackle near half way.

It allowed Llanharan to maintain territorial ascendancy, but hopes of a last gasp bonus point reward were ended as Humberstone’s kick found touch in a threatening position only for the ref to blow for time.

Narberth had built up a half time lead despite some sound defence, skipper Scott Malone, along with second rows Tom Williams and Huw Thomas often conspicuous by their efforts.

However, a weak clearance allowed centre Morgan Griffiths to run diagonally to the posts after Ianto Griffiths had scored an early penalty.

Griffiths converted and put over two further penalties to complete the first half scoring.

Llanharan face strugglers Glynneath this Saturday, needing a decisive win to help climb the table and despite this defeat they will take encouragement from a performance that generally showed  sound structure, commitment and plenty of ability

They will, however, need a more benign adjudication from the man with the whistle, if what appears to be an emerging effective force is to deliver on its promise.

Head coach Matthew Lloyd commented: “A good performance in difficult conditions and circumstances. We deserved to get something from a game in which we were on the wrong end of the referee’s decisions, a lot of which baffled both sides. We defended superbly first half into the wind and up the slope whilst in the second we just came up short on a couple of occasions. Nevertheless the squad is being strengthened week by week and there is a great feeling in the squad. Everyone is now looking forward to the upcoming games and to putting some committed and ‎winning performances in”.

Their Pembrokeshire frustration was well summed up his forwards’ coach Colin Malone who trudged back to the changing rooms declaring that he was lost for words at the negative interpretation suffered so frequently by his side.

Team:

15 Josh Austin

14 Ollie Smyth

13 Morgan Williams

12 Mike Powell

11 Tom Farrah-Evans (Ross Pritchard 52)

10 Andy Humberstone

9 Nicky Theaker

8 Jack Davies (Nathan Huish

7 Scott Malone (C)

6 Rory Martin-Smith

5 Tom Williams (Sam Parker58)

4 Huw Thomas

3 Aled Rees (Tom Piper 48)

2 Gethin Cashmore

1 Joe Jones (red card 44)

Unused Rep 

Mathew Williams

Scorers:

Narberth

Tries: Morgan Griffiths

Con: Ianto Griffiths

Pens: Ianto Griffiths 3

Llanharan

Try: Rory Martin-Smith

Pen: Nick Theaker

The chairman's summary:

Scott and the boys made their neighbours and local rivals feel the full frustration of recent results.  Today we saw what this talented young side has  to offer.  Tondu competed well for the first 25 minutes, but the determination of our young side soon started to shine through, with the score 6-5 in our favour at half time it was anybody's game, but Tondu could not cope with the relentless pressure Scott and his side imposed on our opponents.  Some outstanding play between forwards and backs soon took its it toll on our visitors which resulted in us dominating proceedings for the next 40 minutes, the scoreline continually ticked over with James Whittingham dissecting the uprights and with tries coming from  Scott Malone, Harry Davies,and Morgan Wiiliisms. The players fully deserved the accolades of their first win . Narberth next week will provide us with a different challenge, but one the coaches and players look forward to.

Match Report  from Richie Jenkins -

Llanharan 32 Tondu 10

Llanharan gained their first victory of the season with a win over local rivals Tondu.  The win was a result of the power of the Llanharan scrum combined with the hard running of the backs.

The opening 10 minutes of the game belonged to Tondu, who had continuous possession for the whole of this period. This possession resulted in a try and after some good forward drives and a sweeping movement by the backs, Tondu went over in the corner.  0-5 to Tondu as the conversion was missed.

Llan finally had some ball and attacked towards the Club House end.  The attacks resulted in a penalty which James Whittingham  converted from 50 meters out.  3-5.

Both sides played some good attacking football and a superb break by Llan full back Josh Austin resulted in a penalty in front of the posts after Matthew Morgan came from an offside position at a ruck, for which he had the first of Tondu's four yellow cards.  James Whttingham converted the penalty.   6-5 .

Tondu came back hard after this but Llan withstood the pressure with some serious defence and the half time score stayed at 6-5.

Llanharan started the second half  with determined rugby from the kick off and some hard running from 40 meters out resulted in a try for captain Scott Malone under the posts.  James Whittingham converted.  13-5 to Llanharan. 

Llan continued to have possession and to put pressure on the Tondu line .  This pressure resulted in two penalties for the home side, which were converted, These penalties resulted in another yellow card for Tondu.  19-5.

The Llanharan scrum was now dominant and were giving the backs a regular supply of ball to the backs.  After a movement involving all of the backs,  Josh Austin gave a lovely pass to Matthew Williams who then scored in the corner.  24-5.

The Llan scrum continued to dominate with another Yellow card being given to Tondu for collapsing the scrum.  penalty converted 27-5.

At no time did Tondu give up and both sides played some very good rugby.  Pressure by Tondu resulted in a charged down clearing kick and Jake Lewis went over for a Tondu try.  27-10.

The final try for Llan  was scored by Harry Davies,  again after some hard and clever running by the backs making the final score  and a well deserved win to Llanharan by 32-10

15 Josh Austin

14 Harry Davies

13 Morgan Williams

12 Mike Powell

11 Tom Farrah-Evans

10 James Whitingham

9 Nicky Theaker

8 Jack Davies

7 Scott Malone (C)

6 Bill Carey

5 Tom Williams

4 Huw Thomas

3 Aled Rees

2 Gethin Cashmore

1 Simon Collins

Reps Used

Mathew Williams, Andy Humberstone, Jake Holland, Nathan Huish, Carl Leather

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

BLACKWOOD  35 LLANHARAN 29 (HT26 -10  )

In the battle at the bottom it was Blackwood who triumphed, leaving Llanharan winless after five games.

Some comfort for the Dairymen though will come from gathering two bonus points. Indeed they outscored the opposition 4-3 on tries, but suffered on the wrong end of Josh Turner’s boot which brought him a tally of twenty points.

A further encouragement for Scott Malone’s men was the way the scrum regularly destroyed the home eight, two penalty tries for collapses telling their own story.

Forwards coach Colin Malone was certainly happy that mid week sessions on the scrummaging machine had paid dividends.

However, after having the better of proceedings overall, Llanharan’s generally purposeful play was interrupted by conceding crucial penalties and tries despite a good second half when they fought back from a 26-10 deficit.

They had got underway well, Nathan Huish’s drive leading to James Whittingham’s penalty, but were harshly dealt with as referee Richard Brace sent Morgan Williams to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on twenty five metres out.

It allowed Blackwood to establish momentum as Turner’s three penalties were added to by Chris Stevens’ try.

Even when back to full strength Llanharan paid the price for a poor kick whose return was blessed by a fortuitous bounce to give Justin Jones a try.

It got worse for the away side as a poor lineout allowed a drive through the middle where Josh Hayward scored under the posts, the conversion making it 26-3.

The Dairymen desperately needed a score before the turn around and it came as the pack pressurised the line and a determined lunge by tight head Tom Piper produced the try, Whittingham converting.

The Black and Blues continued their fight back after the restart although it took five scrum collapses before the penalty try was awarded.

Whittingham converted but Turner struck another penalty before Llanharan got a third try, Huw Thomas finishing of good powerful forward play.

It put them within a score of the Glan yr Afan outfit with hopes high, only for another penalty to stretch the gap.

Even so they were now flat out for victory, replacement Nick Theaker making one threatening run, an interception eventually killing the assault.

A deliberate knock on as Malone raced into the twenty two elicited shouts for a penalty try, but with home back Ryan Evans sin binned the Llanharan eight again did the business to force another collapse and a valuable seven points as Mr Brace ran to the posts.

Just three points now separated the teams, but a penalty at the breakdown brought Turner his final kick and it was all over for Llanharan who know that a win against fellow strugglers Tondu at the Dairyfield on Saturday is now crucial.

Blackwood tries – Chris Stevens, Josh Hayward, Justin Jones; cons - Scott Turner 1; pens – Scott Turner 6.

Llanharan tries – penalty tries 2, Tom Piper, Huw Thomas; cons – James Whittingham 3; pens - James Whittingham 1.

TEAM

15 JAMES WHITTINGHAM

14 TOM FARRAH-EVANS

13  MIKE POWELL

12 ANDY HUMBERSTONE

11 MORGAN WILLIAMS

10 RHYS MORGAN

9 ROSS PRITCHARD (NICKY THEAKER 58)

1 SIMON COLLINS

2 NATHAN HUISH

3 TOM PIPER

4JOSH PORTER (TOM WILLIAMS  75)

5 BILL CAREY

6  HUW THOMAS

7  SCOTT MALONE (C)

8 JACK DAVIES

UNUSED REPLACEMENTS

ALED REES

GETHIN CASHMORE

JOSH AUSTIN

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

BARGOED 42   LLANHARAN 12 (HT 15-9))

Pre match statistics suggested there was only going to be one winner in this top v bottom clash, and so it turned out with Bargoed eventually totting up six tries to maintain their 100% record and leave Llanharan pointless.

However, it  was a  score line that perhaps  did little to reflect the away side’s input, their unstinting efforts throughout eventually nullified by Bargoed’s ability to exploit chances to the full.

It  might also have been different if both Nathan Huish and Bentley Halpin had not been the latest to fall victim to the prominent soccer goal line marking and dived over for “tries” that could have given their team a half team lead.

The Dairymen went into the game with six changes in the back division where youth product Dan Smith and outside half James Whittingham who switched from centre, came through with credit.

Indeed, after conceding just a Josh Prosser penalty in the face of strong early pressure, Scott Malone’s men proceeded to give as good as they got, Whittingham banging over two kicks for a 6-3 lead.

But the championship leaders  struck  with two tries in the ten minutes before the changeover as a collapsed scrum brought a penalty try, Prosser converting, and Lewis Prothero punished a blind side gap to make the score 15-6.

A yellow card for home second row Mathew Gwilt was followed by a third Whittingham penalty to complete the first half scoring.

Llanharan, who had lost wing Bentley Halpin to a shoulder injury, had been very much in the game, but Bargoed proceeded to show a ruthless appetite for tries, Prosser getting an early touchdown after the restart.

Although Whittingham kept hopes alive with a fourth penalty, Prosser also reflected his team’s respect for their opponents by kicking a penalty instead of looking for a try, before Darren Humphries, Dafydd Carter and Lewys Lippiet ensured that the home outfit achieved victory with something to spare.

Llanharan coach Colin Malone felt that despite the result, his side had made Bargoed   work hard for victory after again having selection problems through injuries and unavailability.

“We were committed and in contention for much of the game,” he said.

The Dairymen also know that their four defeats have been against sides in the championship top five, but recognise that a win is a must at fellow strugglers Blackwood this Saturday.

 Bargoed tries:  Lewis Prothero, Darren Humphreys, Dafydd Carter, Josh Prosser, Lewys Lippiet, penalty try; cons (3) pens (2) - Prosser

Llanharan pens: James Whittingham (4).

TEAM

15 JOSH AUSTIN

14 BENTLY HALPIN (ROSS PRITCHARD  32)

13 MORGAN WILLIAMS

12 MIKE POWELL

11 DAN SMITH

10 JAMES WHITTINGHAM

9 MATHEW W ILLIAMS

1 JOE JONES

2 NATHAN HUISH (GETHIN CASHMORE73)

3 TOM PIPER (ALED REES 62)     

4JOSH PORTER

5 HUW THOMAS   

6 OWEN HOWE

7 SCOTT MALONE (C)

8 JACK DAVIES

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 5 RGC 1404 26 (HT 5-7)

Llanharan lost their third successive game amidst some unfortunate ironies.

Back in December at RGC Dairyfield back row man Dafi Davies was stretchered off with a long-term leg injury and sadly limped to the touchline with knee damage just seven minutes into this game.

More seriously, five minutes from time it  was visiting fullback Afon Bagshaw who was taken away in an ambulance with a neck injury. Referee Gareth Newman had the consent of both sides in ending the match at that stage, RGC with a bonus point already in the bag and no chance of the Dairymen getting even a losing bonus. Happily Afon was discharged later that evening with no serious injury diagnosed.

However, that was one of the few referee’s decisions the home fans would have agreed with, as they seemed to fall foul of multiple rulings throughout, particularly in the scrum and contact area.

The black and blues had done  well up the slope to take a 5-0 lead in the first forty minutes, only to see the development team grab an interval advantage in time added on with their only threat inside the twenty two, Rory Martin- Smith in the sin bin at the time.

It  was a  warning sign of RGC’s potency  as Bagshaw went over after a long range attack, cancelling out  a try by Bill Carey, who along  with Ross Pritchard, was making a return to his home club after a year away..

James Lang’s conversion gave the away side a 7-5 half time lead.

Even so, many would have put money on Llanharan after the turn around, but they went off the boil and allowed RGC to display their attacking ability.

Early pressure after the restart came from the Colwyn Bay based outfit and it was only good tackles from the likes of Mike Powell and Tyler Williams aided by turnovers from skipper Scott Malone that kept them at bay.

However, a rebound saw the pack lose a scrum head and a collapse ended in a penalty try, Lang making it 14-5.

The lead grew in the 56th minute with wing Tom Blackwell going over, again the opposition not helped by another scrum decision against them.

Defeat for the Dairyfield side was confirmed as left wing Carwyn Ap Myrddin sped over immediately after the yellow card and Lang converted.

There was at last a response from the beleaguered side as they pressed on the line, but shouts from the crowd for a penalty try as a quick penalty was tackled inside the ten metres zone went unheeded, and Llanharan know that a huge response will be needed as they travel to powerful Bargoed on Saturday.

Head coach Matthew Lloyd commented: “A disappointing result again as we were firmly in the game at half time. There  was huge effort from the players - the win isn't far away but we must play what's in front of us and discipline has to be better.”

Scorers:

Llanharan.

Try – Bill Carey.

RGC 1404

Tries – penalty try, Afon Bagshaw, Tom Blackwell, Carwyn Ap Myrddin; cons – James Lang 3.

Llanharan:

15 TYLER WILLIAMS

14 MORGAN WILLIAMS

13 MIKE CALLOW

12 JAMES WHITTINGHAM

11 MIKE POWELL

10 RHYS MORGAN

9 ROSS PRITCHARD (MATHEW WILLIAMS 65)

1 SIMON COLLINS

2 NATHAN HUISH

3 TOM PIPER (ALED REES 49)

4JOSH PORTER (RORY MARTIN-SMITH 52)

5HUW THOMAS

6 BILL CAREY

7 DAFI DAVIES   (JACK DAVIES 7)

8 SCOTT MALONE  (C)

UNUSED REPLACEMENT

GETHIN CASHMORE

 

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

PONTYPOOL 32 LLANHARAN 13 (HT  13-8)

Pontypool ruthlessly picked off Llanharan for a bonus point win after the visitors had flattered to deceive with a lot of territorial prominence.

Although they got themselves into many strong field positions, the Dairymen’s offensive play lacked fluency, whilst against a modest opposition attack they left too many gaps and offered too many easy options.

But the fact of the matter is that Matthew Lloyd and his coaches  are in an early season building phase which hopefully for them will soon reach fruition, a number of additional personnel likely to be in the frame for Saturday’s crucial contest at home to RGC 1404.

They could, of course,  have done  with an easier opening to the season than buoyant East One champions Merthyr and Pooler, 4th last year, before the third placed finish north Walians arrive on the weekend.

Llanharan could have beaten Merthyr on an opening afternoon when Pooler were being heavily defeated by Bargoed, and indeed started this game with a lot of control.

On the other hand, the home team, were guilty of poor handling, and  a try seemed on the cards after Scott Malone’s lineout ball had instigated a series  of  drives, but it ended  with Morgan Williams having to scamper back to deal with the loose ball.

In fact it  was fifteen minutes before the former giants of Welsh rugby made any serious incursion into the away team’s  red zone and then the lineout combination of Gethin Cashmore and Josh Turner helped their side clear comfortably.

But on twenty five minutes that defensive frailty revealed itself as Pooler passed their   way past ineffective tackles to give centre Mark Thorley a try that Tom Hancock converted.

It was now the former Welsh champions who were dominant, Hancock adding a penalty, before a long stoppage as home number eight Dykoff was eventually stretchered off.

However,   it  was Llanharan who seemed least affected as a brilliant 45 metres try by scrum half Will Baird gave them hope, the half ending  with Hancock and Tyler Williams  swapping penalties for a 13-8 score line.

Seven minutes after the restart Pontypool got a hold on victory with a second try, Thorley stepping inside all too easily for Hancock to make it 20-8 with the kick.

It was all over for Llanharan when two minutes later weak tackling allowed their opponents a long attack to give Mathew Thomas a converted try.

Yet frustratingly Llanharan continued to get themselves into good positions as the pack worked tirelessly, Bentley Hatpin’s touchline thrust showing the potential of quick transfer along the backs.

A reward did come near the end as the improving Josh Porter went through a gap after another Malone line out, although one more missed kick indicated another area on which the coaches will be working.

But it was the jubilant home side that rounded things off with a late try from Nathan Brooks.

Llanharan tries: Will Baird, Josh Porter. Pen: Tyler Williams.

Pontypool tries: Mark Thorley (2),  Mathew Thomas, Nathan Brooks. Cons (3) and pens (2) Tom Hancock.

Llanharan:

TYLOR WILLIAMS

BENTLEY HALPIN

MIKE POWELL

MORGAN WILLIAMS (JAMES WHITTINGHAM 48)

JOSH AUSTIN

RHYS MORGAN

WILL BAIRD

SIMON COLLINS

GETHIN CASHMORE (JORDAN HUGHES 71)

ALED REES  (JOE JONES 49)

TOM WILLIAMS

JOSH PORTER

HUW THOMAS (OWEN HOWE 51)

SCOTT MALONE (C)

JACK DAVIES

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 20 28 MERTHYR

Newcomers Merthyr showed that they are not there just to make up the numbers as they held their nerve to grab a win on the opening day of the Swalec National Championship.

Much was due to  tries they scored either side of half time, and a penalty award late in the game just as Llanharan looked like stealing victory.

The home pack was well on top with a dynamic set piece performance, where props Bradley Thayer, second row Huw Thomas and flanker Dafi Davies were the pick of an extremely confident unit.

They were driving down to the line in search of the winner when referee Simon Rees  made his decision in the face of an injudicious remark and the Dairymen were pushed back, never to recover.

They were still on for a bonus point until a fortuitous bounce saw old Black and Blue wing Rhys Walker wrong foot the covering backs to stroll in and wrap up the result.

Although the visitors enjoyed the benefit of considerable continuity derived from a successful promotion, it was actually Llanharan who generally looked the more dominant in the first half, with a strong scrum and solid line out providing a good platform.

Merthyr were a good footballing unit, but found the devastating tackling of Dafi Davies and the robust loose play of Huw Thomas hard to deal with.

Even so, the reliable boot of Steve Lang gave them a 9-0 lead with three penalties before Rhys Morgan replied with his own three pointer.

A yellow card for Merthyr’s Ben Murphy offered Llanharan the chance of making progress, but they met opposition that put together some impressive rugby.

They made little headway and then suffered doubly as Thomas was also carded before scrum half Martin Luckwell’s try profited from a penalty to the corner for a 14-3 half time lead.

Llanharan desperately needed the first score of the second half, only to fall further behind as Sam Edwards waltzed through the middle, Lang’s kick confronting the Dairymen  with a 21-8 deficit.

But new skipper Scott Malone rallied his men in an inspired comeback.

Pressure  brought Blues Academy man Dafi Davies two tries, Morgan adding to the second, and helped by Nathan Huish taking another head  it  was young Jack Davies who forced his  way over to leave his team just one point adrift.

But just when it seemed a remarkable comeback was on the cards, their former player struck.

Llanharan:

TYLOR WILLIAMS

BENTLEY HALPIN

MIKE CALLOW

MORGAN WILLIAMS

MIKE POWELL

RHYS MORGAN

MATHEW WILLIAMS

SIMON COLLINS (ALED REES 52)

NATHAN HUISH

BRADLEY THAYER

JOSH PORTER

HUW THOMAS

SCOTT MALONE (C)

DAFI DAVIES

JACK DAVIES

UNUSED REPLACEMENTS:

GETHIN CASHMORE

TOM WILLIAMS

JOSH AUSTIN

DAN SMITH

LLANHARAN TRIES: DAFI DAVIES 2, JACK DAVIES. CON & PEN :RHYS MORGAN

MERTHYR TRIES: SAM EDAWRDS, MARTIN LUCKWELL, RHYS  WALKER. CONS 2 AND PENS  3 STEVE LANG.