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.
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.
15 Josh Austin
14 Rhys Morgan
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