Match Reports

First Team

 

 

LLANHARAN 45 LLANTRISANT 14 (HT 19-14)

In the end, a clear cut Llanharan victory, but perhaps more importantly in the grand order of things a valuable work out for both teams before resuming league action this weekend with relegation concerns prominent in each camp.

The Dairymen  and Black Army sit at the bottom of the National Championship and Swalec One East Central respectively and will hope to take the better elements of their Friday night displays into their games with Cardiff Met at the Dairyfield and away at Mountain Ash.

The try count was a decisive 7-2 in favour of Llanharan, but the visitors will draw encouragement from a first half in which they put a lot of pressure on their opponents.

It was a commendable effort considering that they were two tries down in the opening minutes.

A typical defence busting thrust by Tom Farrah-Evans led the way to a touch down from the rangy Tom Williams, and then good work by Mike Powell started the attacks which ended with Nick Theaker crossing.

New outside half Harrison Evans, who went on to enjoy a decent debut, converted both and it looked as though Kieran Evans men were in for a long hard night.

However, to their credit, they launched a ten minute blitz against some doughty defence, one good Aled Rees tackle stopping a threatening inside break, before a quick penalty saw full back Michael Williams dart over and Lewis Montague convert.

Llanharan’s attacking flair was being stifled by the Llantrisant forward effort as Julian Andrews and Paul Morgan drove forward with telling frequency, but they were next on the score sheet, moving the ball from a right hand side line out to the opposite touch where Powell finished off.

The away side though made it 19-14 at the break after a Llanharan chip ahead went awry, allowing them to once more attack strongly and grab a second try through their playmaker Glen Holloway who exploited a gap near the breakdown, Montague again converting.

After the turn around the effort had clearly taken its toll and Llanharan began to demonstrate the difference between the two leagues.

Even when defending, breaks by the likes of Josh Clark and Rory Martin- Smith took play quickly upfield where Will Baird probed intelligently.

Second row Jack Davies capped another fine performance with a try converted by Evans, consolation for missing out by his finger tips on a sensational first half interception effort.

Referee Jason Bessant  was doing much to encourage a free running game and there were still glimpses of enterprise from the Black Army as Chris Ritchins made good runs on the right wing and Kevin Oliver went close, but Llanharan were very much calling the tune even though they occasionally made unforced errors.

Dan Smith, a prolific try score with the Seconds, opened his first team account notching his side’s sixth to round off impressive handling, and then some clever work from Carl Leather sent the tireless Martin-Smith striding in.

Nice running by Josh Austin and Clark and good  support from the hard grafting Bill Carey ended  with Scott Malone running under the posts, and Scott Jones, who had put in some impressive line kicks, added his second conversion of the night.

Coach Colin Malone declared himself quite happy with Llanharan’s showing:

“We defended well against multiple phases in the first half and then began to put together some sharp attacks after half time with some of our training ground routines being put into practice.

“Cardiff Met is a big game for us Saturday but this squad is full of potential and it should be a thrilling encounter.”

Our tries - Mike Powell, Nick Theaker, Tom Williams, Jack Davies, Rory Martin- Smith, Scott Malone, Dan Smith. Cons - Harrison Evans 3, Scott Jones 2

Llanharan:

15 Josh Austin

14 Ollie Smyth

13 Mike Powell

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Morgan Williams

10 Harrison Evans

9 Nick Theaker

1 Simon Collins

2 Gethin Cashmore

3 Aled Rees

4 Tom Williams

5 Jack Davies

6 Tom Wilson

7 Rory Martin- Smith

8 Huw Thomas (C)

Replacements used:

16 Tom Piper

17 Bill Carey

18 Scott Malone

19 Carl Leather

20 Aled Llewellyn

21 Scott Jones

22 Will Baird

23 Josh Clark

24 Dan Smith

SWALEC WELSH CHAMPIONSHIP

GLYNNEATH 28 LLANHARAN 19 (HT 13-0)

A frustrating day in the Neath valley for Llanharan, defeat keeping them at the foot of the championship and badly in need of a good run to retain their status.

In truth, their all round performance  should have yielded something and they ended the game with a ten minute bout of attacking frenzy in an effort to get the fourth try that would have at least brought two bonus points.

Whether they should have opted instead for a kick at goal from a series of penalties to produce at least a losing bonus point is another matter.

They instead came agonisingly close to snatching that vital touchdown as what seemed certain tries were prevented – knock ons, forward passes, held up over the line and finally a controversial penalty for not releasing when it appeared to all that the ball carrier had not been tackled all contrived to deny the Dairymen.

They faced a stiff wind in the first half and fell behind in the 6th minute when scrum half Ben Jones found the gap after several phases.

Jack O’Reilly converted and then made it 10-0 as referee Justin Williams penalised Josh Clark for an illegal tackle, issuing a yellow card.

The centre’s accurate boot added three more points before the ten minutes  expired, and although there  was some  strong play by the likes of Huw Thomas and Dafi Davies, Llanharan could not capitalise on their chances.

However, skipper Scott Malone, scrum half Nick Theaker and wings Clark and Morgan Williams were now starting to make ground and a thirteen points deficit did not seem insurmountable as the teams changed around.

But Llanharan clearly needed the first score and instead it went to home hooker Craig Tenant who seemed to pirouette past several close quarter tacklers for a try which O’Reilly converted.

Undaunted the visitors hit back after more penetrating forays by the back row, and it  was Theaker who went over with Geraint Llewellyn ‘s kick making it 20-7.

O’Reilly replied almost immediately with a penalty, but Llanharan were now playing high speed attacking rugby and after Malone’s narrow side burst the tireless Dafi Davies got their second try.

However, again, as they had done all afternoon Llanharan brought so many attacks to a premature end with mistakes and rashness, another possession loss allowing Glynneath to return to the other end where wing Steff Stone raced in to make it 28-12 in the 63rd minute.

The black and blue shirted away team were far from spent though, with a rearranged front row of Tom Piper, Gethin Cashmore and Nathan Huish working splendidly, and relentless pressure brought Davies another try, Llewellyn’s conversion putting the team tantalisingly close to getting some reward form an afternoon of unquestionable effort.

However, wave after wave of promising attacks brought no reward, leaving Llanharan rooted in last place and seeming to be in a three way scrap with Tondu and Blackwood to escape the drop, though with four of their last six games at home they are still in with a fighting chance.

Our tries – Dafi Davies 2, Nick Theaker. Cons 2 -  Geraint Llewellyn

Glynneath tries _ Ben Jones, Craig Tenant, Steff Stone. Cons 2 and pens 3 – Jack O’Reilly

LLANHARAN

15 Rhys Morgan (Josh Austin 68)

14 Josh Clark

13 Sam Edwards (Tom Williams 77)

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Morgan Williams

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9 Nick Theaker (Will Baird 62)

1 Tom Piper

2 Gethin Cashmore

3 Nathan Huish

4 Bill Carey

5 Jack Davies

6 Dafi Davies

7 Scott Malone            (C) (Tom Wilson 73)

8 Huw Thomas

Unused Replacement

Aled Rees

SWALEC WELSH CUP ROUND TWO

LLANHARAN  10 BRIDGEND 20 (H T 10-7)

Bridgend were given an almighty battle by neighbours Llanharan before winning their way through to the quarter finals of the Swalec Cup.

In fact, for long periods of the game the neutrals in the large crowd could have been forgiven for thinking it was the home side who were in the Premier division, their performance belying a lowly position in the championship.

This was particularly so in the first forty minutes when the Dairymen were deservedly 10-0 up and calling the tune against an uncertain Bridgend outfit.

But a crucial turning point came as the game approached the final quarter. The Ravens had got back to level the scores but took full advantage of Scott Malone’s yellow card to collect ten points that ultimately won them the game.

Llanharan’s skipper Malone seemed to have been harshly adjudged to have gone off his feet at the breakdown as referee Dan Jones sent him to the touchline and Bridgend were quick to take advantage.

They opted for a scrum at the penalty; number eight Andrew Waite moved possession to the right and centre Chris Lewis crashed through.

James Dixon converted then added another crucial penalty before the opposition returned to full strength and, despite Llanharan’s continuing efforts, they lost possession in attacking positions and Bridgend held out.

Malone himself had been a vibrant element in an outstanding set piece, effectively blending with the complementary skills of fellow back row men Dafi Davies and Huw Thomas.

The scrum was particularly strong, power house due Bill Carey and Jack Davies adding the weight to the technique of Tom Piper, Gethin Cashmore and Aled Rees in the front row.

It gave Will Baird and James Whittingham the platform to show their class, while centres Tom Farrah-Evans and Sam Edwards constantly forced openings.

Their side went 3-0 up in the 5th minute, Carey and Thomas working well at the line out and Edwards pressing forward to give Whittingham a straight penalty.

When the Brewery Field men did attack there were strong runs by back row men Waite and Iestyn Merryman with wing Tom O’Flaherty also showing his paces, but their handling often let them down and Malone in particular was a defensive scourge as he pounced on anything loose.

It meant that most of the attacking was in the opposite direction where Farrah-Evans made regular inroads, and it was the hard running centre who put Llanharan further ahead after a searing break by Baird.

Whittingham added the kick and as the half hour approached his team had established a worthy ten points lead.

However, the yellow shirted away side who came into the tie on the crest of good recent cup and league form pressed hard in a sequence of attacking line outs and it was prop Mitchel Auger who crashed over as hailstones lashed down, Dixon converting to give Bridgend hope with half time quickly following.

They drew level two minutes after the turn around with a Dixon penalty and it was now more of an even contest with the sin binning to prove the vital turning point.

Now trailing by ten points, Llanharan tried hard to get back in striking distance, but their most threatening moment came as replacement Josh Austin intercepted, only to be hauled down by the cover and Mr Jones’s final whistle saw the championship club bow out of the cup but with heads held high.  

Their performance was a reflected on positively by coaches Colin Malone and Dennis John.

Said Malone: “Everyone in the squad, replacements included, played a part and showed just what we are capable of.”

Son and skipper Scott too was buoyant: “We more than matched Bridgend for a lot of the game and this is something we now need to take into the championship games ahead.”

And for Llanharan, that means showing the same resolve and ability against Narberth at the Dairyfield on Saturday.

Llanharan try: Tom Farrah-Evans; con and pen: James Whittingham.

Bridgend tries: Mitchell Auger, Chris Lewis;  cons 2 and pens 2 – James Dixon.

LLANHARAN:

15 Rhys Morgan

14 Harry Davies (Josh Austin 73)

13 Sam Edwards (Morgan Williams 75)

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Josh Clark

10 James Whittingham (Geraint Llewellyn 65)

9 Will Baird (Nick Theaker 65)

 1 Tom Piper (Aled Rees 74)

2 Gethin Cashmore (Nathan Huish 48)

3 Aled Rees (Simon Collins 48)

4 Bill Carey

5 Jack Davies (Aled Llewellyn 74)

6 Dafi Davies

7 Scott Malone   (C) (Carl Leather 68)

8 Huw Thomas

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

TONDU 15 LLANHARAN 0 (HT 5-0)

This was a big win for Tondu in the battle of the championship strugglers, their four points moving them up off the bottom to within touching distance of Blackwood and Llanharan – and with games in hand.

The Waterwheelers were deserved winners, playing the conditions far more wisely than their visitors.

There were even suggestions that the game would be called off as the teams arrived to see a glistening surface of mud, leaving everyone wondering why a match had been allowed on the field the previous night.

In fact referee Mr Justin Evans made a length inspection before declaring “game on”, and although the spring like weather brought improvement as the afternoon progressed, the glue pot surface provided a challenge.

It was Tondu who responded better to the difficulties, an intelligent kicking game and strong, straight running serving them well.

However, it seemed Llanharan had done a  job in restricting them to a 5-0 half time score after facing the slope and wind, thanks to some resolute defence.

The game though was lost in the second period  when their efforts  were frustrated by trying to play too much rugby in the wrong areas, though some of Mr Evans’ decisions  did not help either.

The home side predictably opened the encounter with a lot of pressure, but Scott Malone’s men held out, one particularly bold piece of running out of defence by Josh Clark and Rory Martin-Smith catching the eye.

Llanharan then enjoyed a spell on the offensive, but fell behind on the half hour as Tondu played to the corner and finished a lineout drive with a try from Sean Lambert.

Tondu got a vital second score seven minutes after the turn around, Paul Smithson collecting an easy three points for an offside in front of the posts.

But they delivered a killer blow as scrum half Gareth Lindenburn was able to get away with an outrageous tap penalty metres to the side of the still engaged scrum, with Llanharan having been adjudged to have shoved early. It took play to the far right corner, where the home pack drove Llanharan back for number eight Dean Fitzgerald to finish off.

Smithson added a very good kick, leaving the opposition needing three scores for a win and two for a losing bonus point.

There were still twenty minutes left and Llanharan gave it a good go, but the nearest they got was Huw Thomas’s drive over the line, ruled out by a double movement.

The Dairymen still have everything to play for, though a young side will need a better strategic approach than they showed on Saturday.

This weekend they have a break from championship duties when they entertain premiership neighbours Bridgend in the second round of the Swalec Cup.

Scores:

Tondu: tries – Sean Lambert, Dean Fitzgerald; con and pen – Paul Smithson.

Llanharan:

15 Josh Austin

14 Josh Clark

13 Morgan Williams (Sam Edwards 47)

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Ollie Smyth

10 Rhys Morgan

9 Ryan Sullivan

1 Simon Collins (Aled Rees 47)

 

2 Nathan Huish

3 Tom Piper

4 Bill Carey

5 Jack Davies

6 Rory Martin-Smith

7 Scott Malone   (C)

8 Huw Thomas

Unused replacements : Gethin Cashmore,Tom Williams, Carl Leather

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 92 BLACKWOOD 24 (HT 47-12)

Llanharan recorded an all clubs record score in the National Championship, but more importantly hoisted themselves above fellow strugglers Blackwood.

No fewer than 14 touchdowns came their way, the only downside being the four tries and a bonus point that they allowed their rivals.

The Gwent club have hit on hard times recently with coaches and players departing, and look to have a much bigger struggle than Llanharan to retain their championship status.

Tondu are still at the bottom, their game one of several to fall victim to the frost, and they entertain the Dairymen on Pandy Park this Saturday in another hugely significant encounter.

But Scott Malone’s men will go into that match greatly encouraged by this rout, some of their play breathtaking in skill and speed.

Such was their dominance up front, it allowed the likes of prop Tom Piper to gallop about the field effectively, while young Jack Davies continued to show he is becoming a very capable performer.

The back row too understandably flourished, Rory Martin–Smith’s electrifying breaks a delight to watch, while the contrasting skills of Scott Malone and Huw Thomas alongside together caused Blackwood repeated difficulties.

The backs also thrived on the open spaces created and none more so than wing Josh Clark who helped himself to four tries with a sharp display

It was the Pontyclun product who opened the flood gates in the first minute after a couple of speedy attacks, and although Mathew Hutcheons grabbed a surprise reply, Martin-Smith raced in after seven minutes with Geraint Llewellyn converting to make it 12-7.

With Tom Farrah-Evans repeatedly breaking the mid field Llanharan kept up a nonstop offensive, Huw Thomas (2), Clark again, Farrah – Evans himself and Will Baird all touching down before half time, only a try by prop Tom Bevan interrupting the procession.

Even a yellow card, somewhat harshly awarded against Llewellyn, could not stem the flow, Llanharan actually collecting two tries while a man down.

Llewellyn’s earlier added kicks made it 47-12 at half time.

Skipper Malone led the way with two tries after the restart, and the all out assault saw Clark double his tally, Thomas notch a hat trick, and replacement Sam Edwards show fine anticipation to collect a couple himself. Rhys Morgan had taken over the kicking duties and he hit the target six times.

The second forty minutes also saw prop Aled Rees make  a welcome return from injury while scrum half Ryan Sullivan looked strong in his replacement role.

However, Blackwood somehow found the spirit to pounce on some sloppy home team play to collect two more tries and a bonus point, Ben Snell and Adam Tetley scoring and James Downey contributing a second conversion.

Even so, Llanharan had accomplished their main objective – a bonus point win over a fellow basement club and will head for Tondu determined to maintain this devastating form.

As head coach Matthew Lloyd said: “Blackwood obviously have their problems, but the boys played well today scoring some fantastic team tries. It's nice to see some of the things they go through in training coming off. We played from the 1st to the 80th minute and credit has to go to Blackwood for securing their try bonus point.

“We have some ten weeks of what has been a difficult season remaining and we are looking forward to every game. From the way the boys expressed themselves today the season's run in should be entertaining.”  

Llanharan tries – Josh Clark 4, Huw Thomas 3, Scott Malone 2, Sam Edwards 2, Tom Farrah-Evans, Will Baird, Rory Martin-Smith. Conversions: Rhys Morgan 6, Geraint Llewellyn 5.

Blackwood tries – Adam Tetley, Ben Snell, Mathew Hutcheon, Tom Bevan. Con – James Dowley 2.

15 Rhys Morgan

14 Josh Clark

13 Morgan Williams

12 Tom Farrah-Evans

11 Josh Austin

10 Geraint Llewellyn (Sam Edwards 60)

9 Will Baird (Ryan Sullivan 52)

 1 Simon Collins (Aled Rees 52)

2 Nathan Huish (Gethin Cashmore 52)

3 Tom Piper

4 Bill Carey (Tom Williams 60)

5 Jack Davies

6 Rory Martin-Smith

7 Scott Malone   (C)

8 Huw Thomas

 

SWALEC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

LLANHARAN 12 BARGOED 34 (HT 5-22)

There is a simple reason why Bargoed are run away leaders of the national championship – they are a very good side.

Their squad demonstrated at the Dairyfield that they have players of size, strength and ability, possessing a composure which ensures the ball is not unnecessarily sacrificed.

They also know how to deal with pressure - in the third quarter Llanharan threw everything against them helped by a yellow card but failed to score, whereas in a similar situation before half time Bargoed picked up two quick tries to create a dominating position.

Llanharan are in a dog fight to stay in the division but they know that it will be easier to impose themselves on some of the opponents lying ahead than this impressive Bargoed unit.

And they will reflect on their final try as an example of   what their young team can do when the raw talent eventually fuses.

In fact coaches Matthew Lloyd and Colin Malone were anxious to have their players keep the result in perspective.

Head man Lloyd said: “We did well against a good and heavy side. The next few weeks is our time, against Blackwood and Tondu. We can play and score tries – we enjoy watching the side playing like we know it can as in the second half.   The team must keep the faith and belief – we have a couple of months to show people how we can play, and with a smile on our faces.”

 
"Bargoed showed why they are unbeaten, though for a side second from bottom we competed well for periods during the game. Against heavier opponents our pack did well, whilst behind the backs were more cohesive in defence .Towards the end of the game we played with more fluidity and scored an excellent try. 
Two very difficult games are now behind us, hopefully we have learned from the experiences each game has thrown at us. We now have to move on and play with the confidence and enjoyment that has been evident in training.
"It will come together, honesty and commitment will preserve our Championship status." .

The game began on a heavy pitch with a cold swirling wind. Llanharan contained Bargoed in the early stages, a strike against the head a significant morale booster.

But a string of penalties saw the away side press increasingly and Ross Coombs finished off an advancing scrum.

A second try was ruled out thanks to a forward pass, but a crucial moment came as home flanker Rory Martin-Smith received a yellow card in the 19th minute.

From an attacking lineout Geraint Edmonds went over, Josh Prosser converting, quickly followed by wing Lewis Prothero to make it 17-0.

Yet the spirit which could well serve Llanharan positively in the months ahead was well in evidence as while still a man down Geraint Llewellyn took a quick penalty. It prompted a home team offensive in which Scott Malone, Nathan Huish and Jack Davies drove hard aided by clean lineout ball from Huw Thomas, Huish eventually getting a deserved try.

But the Dairymen paid the price of missed tackles as first a scintillating run by Jordan Purcell tore the defence apart and then Edmonds got another try with half time beckoning.

With the slope in their favour Malone’s men began to build their own momentum after the turn around and, with Darren Humphries shown a yellow by Swansea official Alan Jenkins, a Sam Edwards half break kept the home side on the front foot, Harry Davies setting Josh Clark free only for a good tackle to save a try.

Unfortunately for the Dairyfield side, they could not add to their one score before the yellow card period expired and Bargoed soon showed how it was done with prop Kieran Brown bursting over near the posts, Prosser converting.

It confirmed victory for the all conquering team, but a suggestion that all might not be lost in the championship for Malone’s men came as they somehow drew on deep reserves of stamina and will power to construct a superb right side attack which saw precise handling before Rhys Morgan touched down for possibly the best try of the afternoon, Llewellyn supplying a good conversion.

It’s fellow strugglers Blackwood next up at the Dairyfield this weekend and Llanharan know that nothing less than victory will suffice.

Llanharan tries -   Nathan Huish, Rhys Morgan con – Geraint Llewellyn.

Bargoed tries -  Geraint Edmonds 2, Lewis Prothero, Keiron Brown, Ross Coombs, Lee Pearson;  cons – Josh Prosser 2.

Llanharan team:

15 Rhys Morgan

14 Josh Clark

13 Sam Edwards

12 Mike Powell (Morgan Williams 75)

11 Harry Davies (Josh Austin 54)

10 Geraint Llewellyn

9 Nick Theaker (Ryan Sullivan 75)

 1 Simon Collins

2 Nathan Huish

3 Tom Piper

4 Jack Davies

5 Huw Thomas

6 Rory Martin-Smith

7 Scott Malone   (C)

8 Dafi Davies (Tom Williams 77)

Unused replacement -

Gethin Cashmore

 

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.- Keiron Meek   

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.