Match Reports

First Team

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

                                          RGC 1404 58 LLANHARAN 6 HT 10-3

Llanharan’s s second visit to RGC 1404 ended like the first – in heavy defeat.

The only difference this time was that the Dairymen at least gave the North Wales outfit a hard game up till half time.

It is difficult to explain what went wrong thereafter as wide gaps were left and players continually missed or fell off tackles.

The six hour coach journey is of course a factor, with so many other championship teams suffering a similar fate, and this is something the WRU should address – the financial and logistical implications for clubs the union categorise as amateur in fulfilling the Colwyn Bay fixture.

However, Llanharan skipper Scott Malone was less eager to jump on the tiredness bandwagon and felt it was more of a mental hurdle that some players created for themselves.

Even so, the free running style of the Eirias Park outfit is to be admired and persisted throughout, but a mixture of inaccuracy and stern defence kept them at bay from the start, and it was Llanharan who took the lead from a Geraint Llewellyn penalty in the 15th minute.

In fact it was the away team that next went close to getting the first try. Josh Austin made good ground from a loose ball in the RGC 22, his pack pressed the line to earn a penalty and Llewellyn’s shrewd kick for his wing Josh Clark just bounced dead.

But RGC got on the score board just before half time as Afon Bagshaw finished off an attack, James Lang converting then adding a penalty to make it 10-3 at half time.

And it was the development team that ruled the roost totally after the turn around as eight more tries followed courtesy of Andy Williams, Cam Davies (2), Shaun O’Rourke, Tom Blackwell (2), Harry Evans and Andy Baston. Lang’s kicks helped pile up a big score to the surprise and disappointment of the small supporting band.

Llanharan did show a bit of spirit in the final stages characterised by Tom Farrah- Evans and Nick Theaker making strong runs, but failed to build on it as they got turned over at a lineout drive.

With leaders Bargoed at the Dairyfield on Saturday this is one that Llanharan will want to put behind them quickly.

Scores

RGC tries: Afon Bagshaw, Andy Williams, Cam Davies 2, Shaun O’Rourke, Tom Blackwell 2, Harry Evans, Andy Baston; cons 5 and pen: James Lang.

Llanharan pens: Geraint Llewellyn 2.)

Llanharan:

15 Rhys Morgan

14 Josh Austin

13 Morgan Williams (Sam Edwards 55)

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Josh Clark (Mike Powell 54)

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9 Will Baird (Nick Theaker 54)

 1 Simon Collins

2 Gethin Cashmore

3 Tom Piper

4 Bill Carey

5 Dan Partridge (Tom Williams 55)

6 Dafi Davies

7 Scott Malone            (C)

8 Huw Thomas (Owain Howe 71)

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 23 PONTYPOOL 17 (HT 10-8)

In the pre match dressing room, coaches Matthew Lloyd and Colin Malone reminded their Llanharan team of their ability and asked for consistency and application for the full eighty minutes.

Their young charges responded magnificently to turn the form book on its head, victory over 4th placed Pontypool lifting them off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation spots.

Their joy was clear to see, understandably so as it marked the first championship success for three months, a run which had seen them come so close on many occasions, the results not reflecting the abundance of talent in their ranks.

Former Sardis Road back row giant Lloyd was fulsome in his evaluation and praise as the Dairymen at last delivered:

“Before the game it was mentioned that the elements demanded a game of ‘proper’ rugby and both teams certainly contributed to that. 

“The result was in the balance until the final minute, and the fact that Llanharan seemed to want it more was the difference, a fact agreed by both sets of coaches and a fair few supporters. 

“A victory in the league has not been far away since the Cardiff Met fixture back ‎at the beginning of November. Elements of our game had been good, but not for the whole eighty, but yesterday the players saw it out. 

“The front row (Collins, Huish and Piper) were superb, seeing off four Pontypool props with a dominant display. There was a huge workload from the second rows, where Bill Carey was back to his influential self. The back row (Malone, Thomas and Davies) carried, tackled and supported all game. The commitment in the side was epitomised by Thomas who left the field to have several stitches in a face wound and then returned to complete an outstanding contribution. 

“The new half backs controlled the game superbly, Theaker playing after some six weeks rehabilitation, and Llewellyn serving up some superb kicking from hand and tee which we have been lacking all season. The centres (Farrah-Evans and Llywarch ap Myrddin) were direct and elusive, a threat all afternoon. The new combination certainly gave us a cutting edge. The back three (Morgan, Williams and Harry Davies) were also superb, constantly turning defence into attack and producing a kicking game of some maturity. 

“So, all in all, a more than competent display from everyone. However, it's now the hard work starts. The players today produced a performance which sets a benchmark. There certainly is more to come and I’m sure the whole squad are keen to produce it. The season for us has taken a long time to ignite from the embers; we now have to maintain the flame.  

“Lots of questions have been asked of individuals within the squad. One young man who has had to answer a few of these is Jack Davies. A 19 year old who has learnt all of his rugby in the last 5 yrs and in the ‘Rugby Heartland’ of Spain, Jack is now starting to become very influential. His game is now more and more complete. He is one of the reasons we enjoy coaching. Against Pontypool he was superb in all aspects of play and his performance belied his limited years or experience. For the coaches he produced a Man of the Match display.” 

There certainly could have been no better score to win it with than the home team’s final try which came as they trailed 17-13 with just eight minutes to play and Morgan launching an attack from inside his own half. Wales Under 20 cap Davies took possession and sped towards the line. Beating the last man for the try seemed a formality, but the young wing showed great presence of mind as he passed inside where Dafi Davies was supporting in a lung bursting run to finish off and give the accomplished Llewellyn a more straight forward kick.

And it was the young number ten who made certain there was no Pooler comeback as he slotted a final 46 metres penalty after himself being blatantly obstructed.

It had been a huge half for Llanharan who survived a Morgan Williams yellow card unscathed, but trailed the visitors as Clayton Gullis’s three penalties outweighed Llewellyn’s single effort, and it took some shuddering tackling to keep the Gwent men at bay.

But the black and blue shirted home XV were only building on a very good first forty that had given them a 10-8 lead.

Gullis had opened the scoring with a penalty, but the remarkable feature of the half was three consecutive heads taken by the home front row.

Old hands in the large Pooler following must have pondered how things have changed as Rob Nash’s men opted for a lineout instead of a scrum and changed their own front row at half time.

Such things would have been unheard of in the days of the legendary “Viet Gwent”, as Max Boyce once dubbed Price, Faulkner and Windsor.

It would also have given some pleasure to Llanharan’s on looking coaching consultant Dennis John who played at nine behind the formidable Pontypool pack.

It was no surprise when Scott Malone’s team got their first try, the rampaging Huish storming down the touchline, Llewellyn cutting through nicely, and then the attacking flair of Morgan finishing off, an excellent Llewellyn kick adding two more points.

Davies’s runs were opening up the defence and another penalty stretched the lead.

With half time approaching Llanharan seemed to have thwarted an isolated danger as they stole a penalty lineout ball in the corner, but kicked badly and set up another Pontypool drive from which prop Garin Harris went over, reducing the lead to 10-8 at the half way mark, still a sound foundation for what was to come from the basement side.

A pleasing day for the Dairyfield crowd was ensured by a gutsy second half when a fierce determination imbued all and brought a much needed victory.

The next two games will test the team’s resolve to the full – away to RGC 1404 on Saturday and then home to championship leaders Bargoed.

  • A minute’s silence was observed before the game in memory of former player Paul Morgan, whose sudden death at the age of 41 shocked everyone. The former centre scored 200 points for Llanharan in 2002/03.

  • Llanharan were delighted to draw the winner of Cardiff/Bridgend in the next round of the cup, the many links with either club ensuring a good day at the Dairyfield.

    Llanharan tries - Rhys Morgan, Dafi Davies; cons – Geraint Llewellyn 2; pens – Geraint Llewellyn 3.

    Pontypool try - ; pens – Clayton Gullis 4.

    Llanharan:

    15 Rhys Morgan

    14 Morgan Williams

    13 Llywarch ap Myrddin

    12 Tom Farrah-Evans

    11 Harry Davies

    10 Geraint Llewellyn

    9 Nick Theaker

     1 Simon Collins

    2 Nathan Huish

    3 Tom Piper

    4 Bill Carey

    5 Jack Davies

    6 Dafi Davies

    7 Scott Malone            (C)

    8 Huw Thomas (Tom Williams blood, 58-75)

    Unused Replacements -

    Gethin Cashmore

    Josh Austin

     Sam Edwards

    Josh Clark

SWALEC CUP

BLACKWOOD  14 LLANHARAN 48 (HT 14-26)

This one sided win was a welcome boost for Llanharan who were without a victory in competition rugby since mid October when they beat Tondu in the National Championship.

In the overall scheme of things it will not prove as valuable to them as league points, but it should do wonders for the confidence of a talented but very young side.

It was a far from satisfactory affair for the home club, also struggling in the championship.

After their heavy defeat in north Wales the previous weekend, their coaching staff had departed and they entered this cup encounter in disarray with a patched up team.

Nor were they helped as early as the 5th minute when referee Dan Jones gave an immediate straight red to their number eight Mike Preece whose boot had connected with the head of visiting skipper Bill Carey, who was a pillar of strength throughout.

However, as the old saying goes, you can only play what’s in front of you and the Dairymen proceeded to overwhelm the Gal yr Afan boys with some sharp and speedy rugby, collecting eight tries in the process

They were looking dangerous even before the sending off as the strong running of Wales Under 20 wing Harry Davies caused many problems and led to an early try for Will Baird.

However, in an eventful opening spell Blackwood exploited weak tackling for centre Adam Tetley to score and James Dowle convert.

One way traffic soon resumed though.

First hooker Gethin Cashmore’s sharp work turned defence into attack and allowed  speedy full back Rhys Morgan to finish off at the other end, then a Sam Edwards’ break caused further problems, wide man Davies and number eight Jack Davies denied tries.

But, down to fourteen men, and with the front row of Simon Collins, Cashmore and Tom Piper now dominating the scrums it was only a matter of time before the pressure told.

In the 23rd minute they forced a collapse for which Mr Jones had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, giving Geraint Llewellyn a straightforward conversion.

Nevertheless, Blackwood hit back, once more profiting from an isolated attack as Dowle cut inside nicely to score at the posts and convert, reducing the lead to19-14.

But it proved a short lived respite. Left wing Josh Clark was next to go close before Edwards picked up a loose pass and cut through for a fourth try.

Llewellyn’s kick made the half time score 26-14 and the result was sealed ten minutes after the restart when Dowle’s unorthodox drop out went wrong.

Cashmore and Huw Thomas combined with precision at a line out near the corner and Morgan Williams squeezed into the narrowest of gaps to stretch the lead to seventeen points.

Three more touch downs came before Mr Jones compassionately ended proceedings five minutes early for the battered home side.

Cashmore capped a good game with a try from more scrum pressure, Josh Austin made the most of Wiliams' clever reverse flick, and finally Morgan punished a loose ball behind the Blackwood backs to race in and then convert, sealing a good personal attacking performance in the process.

Head coach Matthew Lloyd  was certainly a happy man.

“It was nice to see the boys playing the way we know they can,” he said. “There was a lot more urgency to us, especially in loose play. We now need more consistency, and to try and put similar performances in week in week out. There was a great feeling about the squad yesterday, hopefully now we can create some momentum and gain some wins in the league.”

The Dairymen, still without skipper and chest infection victim Scott Malone, will hope for a good home draw in the last sixteen, but will be frustrated in wanting to carry the momentum of this victory through into the championship this weekend.

Under WRU laws, scheduled opponents Pontypool will instead have to play Bedwas, last Saturday’s game a victim of the weather.

Team:

15 Rhys Morgan                                                                            

 14 Harry Davies

13 Sam Edwards

 12Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Josh Clark

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9  Will Baird

1  Simon Collins

2  Gethin Cashmore 

3Tom Piper

 4 Bill Carey

5   Tom Williams

6 Huw Thomas

7 Dafi Davies

8 Jack Davies

Second half replacements used: - Nathan Huish, Carl Leather, Owain Howe, Morgan Williams, Mike Powell,  Josh Austin, Llywarch ap Myrddin.

Blackwood tries:  Adam Tetley, James Dowle; cons: Dowle 2. 

Llanharan tries: Rhys Morgan 2, Sam Edwards, Will Baird, Gethin Cashmore, Morgan Williams, Josh Austin, penalty try; cons: Geraint Llewellyn 3, Rhys Morgan.

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

MERTHYR 24 LLANHARAN 6 (HT 6-6)

With the scores level at half time there was every reason for Llanharan to believe they were in with a chance of victory to really make it a happy new year.

Unfortunately, they ended a decisively beaten team as a below par second half display, not helped by two yellow cards, brought Merthyr a deserved victory and sent the Dairyfield outfit  to the bottom of the championship table.

To their credit they battled throughout with some tremendous tackling and sterling work by the pack led by Nathan Huish in the absence of flu victim Scott Malone.

But two disallowed tries and spasmodic lapses in composure in the second period gave the Ironmen the leeway they needed to gradually get on top.

Merthyr had gone 6-0 up after half an hour through two Liam Jones penalties, though Llanharan were very much in the game and had seen an early try disallowed for alleged crossing.

They defended resolutely whenever the home side came at them and often made progress the other way with strong contributions characterised by the work of Huish, Jack Davies and Tom Farrah-Evans.

Geraint Llewellyn’s two well taken penalties gave them deserved parity at the turn around, and after the restart Llanharan were still going well as the young number ten orchestrated the moves.

However, second row Bill Carey was yellow carded in the 50th minute for an offence in the tackle, and Jones slotted the penalty to re-establish the lead.

Even then, the visitors threatened and it looked a harsh decision as Will Baird had his try disallowed for being in front of Morgan Williams’s in field kick.

But the extra man was made to tell and despite a huge defensive effort, with referee Richard Brace holding a penalty for a collapsed scrum, Merthyr moved the ball right and scrum half Martin Luckwell went over.

Last season’s One West champions were now getting plenty of ball as wing Mathew Trowbridge pounced on self inflicted damage in the defending twenty two to round off more pressure and make it 19-6.

Llanharan’s last hope of redemption went as a miscued chip over the defence went badly awry, and with prop Tom Piper the second yellow card, replacement Hemi Barnes crossed from a scrum five to complete the scoring.

This weekend Llanharan travel to Blackwood for a Swalec cup game. A win would do wonders for confidence against the fellow strugglers and also set Llanharan up nicely for the return league game with the Gwent team in early February.

But they also know that unless they acquire that eighty minutes consistency, wins will continue to be hard to come by.

Yet a self belief remains as outlined by head coach Matthew Lloyd: “The effort from the players on match day cannot be faulted. However the festive period hasn't helped with limited sessions and players absent for various reasons. Commitment now from everyone is paramount to build some momentum and confidence for the remainder of the season. 

“The first half against Merthyr was built around a huge defensive effort aligned with some accurate kicking and sound set piece play. A crucial period some 25 minutes into the 1st half saw us put in a huge defensive effort for some 8 minutes which only yielded 3 points. What we didn't foresee was how this would catch up with us towards the end of the game when we shipped 14 points in some 5 minutes.

“Merthyr were very good, structured opponents who fully deserved their win. For us the positives outweigh the negatives, though again the end result was massively disappointing. 

“We know where we are but as a group we remain tight and are determined to get some wins. After the game there was a long discussion on what is required, hopefully over the next couple of weeks our play will reflect this.”

Merthyr tries: Martin Luckwell, Mathew Trowbridge, Hemi Barnes. Pens (3): Liam Jones.

 Llanharan pens (2): Geraint Llewellyn.

Llanharan:

15  Rhys Morgan

 14 Josh Clark

13 Morgan Williams

 12Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Josh Austin (Sam Edwards 35)

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9  Will Baird

1  Simon Collins

2  Nathan Huish(C)

3Tom Piper (Joel Ringer 78)

 4 Jack Davies

5  Bill Carey

6 Huw Thomas

7 Sam Parker

8 Dafi Davies

Unused Replacements -

 Gethin Cashmore 

 Mike Powell

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

NEWBRIDGE 29 LLANHARAN 22 (HT 10-19)

This was a defeat of huge significance to Llanharan against the only side below them in the national championship.

Going into the encounter the Welfare Ground outfit were four points adrift but with a game in hand.

It was a win that lifted the Gwent side to within a point of the Dairymen.

However, the prospect of victory for the visitors loomed large at half time when they led 19-10, their effort and ability paying dividends with three tries in the bag.

Newbridge’s Kieran Meek had put first points on the board with a penalty, and Lewis Blacker got them a try in the midst of what was generally dominant Llanharan play.

But the Dairyfield men were a potent force.

Their first try was a well taken one by wing Rhys Morgan, then a Rory Martin-Smith break ended with Huw Thomas going under the posts.

Finally Josh Austin raced in after Tom Farrah-Evans’s damaging break from his own half.

New outside half Geraint Llewellyn was looking the part, converting two, hitting the upright with a third, and landing a penalty.

However, it was a different story after the turn around, the Llanharan cause not helped by yellow cards and some poor decision making.

Meek pulled back three points, then Nathan Huish was harshly carded   for a swinging arm in the tackle.

It gave Meek another three points and the seven man pack then capitulated for a penalty try which with the conversion meant that all of a sudden the basement boys were 23-19 up and scenting victory.

Things got worse for Llanharan when back row man Dafi Davies was carded for foul play, and Meek stretched the lead further, the only opposition response a Llewellyn penalty.

And it doesn’t get any easier for Scott Malone’s men as they travel to Merthyr on Saturday, despite the Ironmen’s heavy home defeat to high flying Bargoed on the weekend.

Inconsistency is a major problem – four losing bonus points in the last six games indicating just what might have been but for costly lapses.

The general feeling among the coaches afterwards was one of sheer frustration, a first forty minutes showing the potential in the young side only for it all to flounder as they seemed to lose sight of the plot in the second half.

And again they outscored the opposition on tries but saw Meek’s immaculate boot make a significant difference.

Scores

Llanharan – tries: Rhys Morgan, Josh Austin, Huw Thomas. Cons 2  and pen: Geraint Llewellyn.

Newbridge – tries: Lewis Blacker, penalty try. Cons 2 and pens 5.   

Llanharan

15 Josh Austin

14 Rhys Morgan

13Morgan Williams

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Ollie Smyth

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9 Will Baird (Jon Lewis)

 1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish (Gethin Cashmore YC)

3 Tom Piper

4 Jack Davies

5 Huw Thomas

6 Rory Martin-Smith

7 Scott Malone   (C)

8 Dafi Davies

Unused Replacements -

Joe Jones Tom Williams, Josh Clark.

Eye Witness blow by blow account from Richie Jenkins

 

An exciting, well fought match with both sides playing some good rugby in heavy conditions.  The first half belonged to Llanharan, with 3 tries being scored and the second half to Newbridge with their forwards taking control.

The game started with the Newbridge forwards showing their potential strength with a powerful drive towards the Llanharan line, which resulted in a penalty which was converted by their outside half, Keiron Meek.

Llanharan showed their intent and potential from the restrat with a sweeping move involving the backs and forwards resulting in Rhys Morgan going over in the corner.  The try was converted by Geraint Llewellyn. 

Llan kept up their good work and running rugby with a break of 50 yards started by Rory Martin -Smith completed by Huw Thomas scoring under the posts, Geraint Llewellyn converting.

Now Newbridge showed their style with a break by their centre, who gave a final pass for the No 8 Lewis Blacker to score under the post, converted by Keiron Meek.

Both sides played some good rugby and again Newbridge put pressure on the Llan line but a dropped ball by Newbridge resulted in a break out by Llan with some fine running from Tom Farrah-Evans ending  with Josh Austin going over in the corner, the score at half time  10-19 to Llanharan.

Half time seemed to affect both sides with Llanharan losing their purpose and direction and Newbridge taking the initiative through their forwards. The game went from end to end with stalemate for a period of time.  Pressure from the Newbridge pack earned them a penalty converted  by again Meek , his  side now six points behind.

The Newbridge forwards continued their ascendancy which resulted in a yellow card for Llanharan. Meek again putting the ball between the posts.  .

Llanharan put some moves together, pressure on the Newbridge line causing them to give away a penalty put over by Llewellyn – 22-16 to Llanharan.

Back came Newbridge with their forwards gaining ground and putting pressure on the Llan line. The result of this pressure brought a scrum 5 to Newbridge and a power surge from them pushing Llan towards the try line, the referee giving a penalty try to Newbridge putting them  23-22 ahead.

Another yellow card to a Llanharan player and a penalty to Newbridge made the score 26-22 to Newbridge.

Llanharan started to come back in to the game after a period of 20 minutes without possession but the ball was ripped away by Newbridge near their line and they charged up the field with the resulting play ending in a penalty again converted by Keiron Meek.

 

Final score 29-22 to Newbridge

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 21   BRIDGEND ATHLETIC 33 (HT 7-13)

With just six minutes to go Llanharan had fought their   way back to a 21-19 lead and seemed on their way to a vital win against the team just above them in the lower championship reaches.

But the result was turned on its head as a routine clearance faltered on a foot slip allowing Athletic full back Lindsey MacAusland to round off good handling, followed soon after by a drive over touchdown from second row Henri Williams.

Josh White added the conversion to each and the visitors had opened up a nine points league table lead over their fellow strugglers.

In fact they owed a lot to White, the outside half not missing a kick all afternoon for an eighteen points haul in a game where the tries had been shared, three each.

Head coach of the Dairymen, Matthew Lloyd, lamented his team’s lack of control and poor tackling in the first half and warned that Llanharan would have to work “very, very hard” to stay up. 

 “We are very capable, just need to focus and play for the full 80 minutes,” he added. “Every one of the last four games has seen us in with a great chance of winning. We have the players, we just need the belief and confidence which will come with another win. ‎The players and coaches were disappointed with the display and we will all be doing our best to put things right at Newbridge next week.”

It was a very mixed performance from the home team who showed a lack of consistent application, unlike in recent games.

Even so, it seemed that some overdue luck had come their  way as full back Rhys Morgan charged down a kick, managed to hold on to the ball and fed the impressively supporting Dafi Davies  for a  7th minute try, Codey Rees converting.

Bit Llanharan failed to find the target with three kicks at goal as they sought to profit from their superiority in the middle of the half, scores that would have given their victory drive vital momentum.

The Dairyfield pack was also having uncharacteristic scrum problems, partly exacerbated by twice getting into trouble by unnecessarily delaying the release on a wheeling set piece, and the away team came more into it.

It was from a scrum penalty that they got their first try, tight head Wayne Fooks completing a forceful drive for the line, allowing White to add to his earlier penalty.

A good Ollie Smyth tackle denied them a second touchdown but White was on target again to give the Newbridge Fields outfit a 13-7 interval lead.

The home pack drove strongly after the restart and earned several penalties which they kept in play but without gain, and the next points fell to the ace kicker to stretch the lead.

However, a yellow card for his skipper Sean Williams opened a window of opportunity for Llanharan which they took full advantage of.

It was the powerful Bill Carey who revived hopes with two tries separated by another White penalty.

Rees’s successful conversions edged the black and blues two points ahead and it could have been more, Smyth’s good run putting Tom Farrah-Evans clear only for referee Paul Jones to rule the final pass forward.

It nevertheless seemed enough had been done, especially as the pack had improved its scrummaging game considerably, but Athletic had other ideas and Scott Malone, who tried as hard as anyone to bring about a positive outcome knows that nothing less than victory at bottom club Newbridge this weekend will suffice.

 

 

Scorers:

Llanharan – tries:  Bill Carey 2, Dafi Davies; cons – Codey Rees 3.

Bridgend Ath – tries:     Wayne Fooks, Lindsey MacAusland, Henri Williams; con: Josh White 3 pens: Josh White 4. 

Llanharan

15 Rhys Morgan

14 Harry Davies

13 Sam Edwards (Morgan Williams 50)

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Ollie Smyth

10 Codey Rees

9 Will Baird

 1 Simon Collins (Joe Jones 46)

2 Gethin Cashmore (Nathan Huish 46)

3 Tom Piper

4 Jack Davies

5 Bill Carey

6 Huw Thomas

7 Scott Malone   (C)

8 Dafi Davies

Unused Replacements -

Tom Williams, Josh Clark.

 

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