SSE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
LLANHARAN 7 NEWBRIDGE 54 (HT 0-26)
Newbridge eased their relegation fears with this emphatic bonus point win, but it also meant eighteen defeats in as many matches for Llanharan in a wretched season.
The summer turnover is now well documented, with major implications for success in a competitive championship.
However, there were signs that, whether relegation was likely or nor, a slow recovery was materialising, engendering hopes that the basis for a summertime rebuilding was being created.
There were even hopes that against the lower order clubs, a victory or two might have been snatched.
Such a scenario would have suggested itself on Saturday, with the men of Gwent not having won since mid-November, significantly against Llanharan.
However, recent weeks have been a trial for the coaches with transfers, dropouts and injuries hitting hard.
It meant that for the second match running, they were forced into uncontested scrums with a sanction of not being allowed replacements.
Huw Thomas’s elevation to skipper was itself a reflection of the problem, Scott Malone out for the season after damaging ligaments at Swansea the previous game.
The team that took the field was unrecognisable from the line-up that did service last season, only Thomas and his fellow back row warrior Tom Wilson regulars last time round.
In fact, it would not be intentionally disrespectful to suggest that a year ago this would have been looked at as largely a Second team selection.
Nevertheless, those who pulled on the shirt could feel proud at the way they did their best against more experienced and bigger opponents.
In fact, Llanharan started brightly, Gavin Parsons. Thomas and Richard Lawrence all contributing significantly only for full back Ryan Lee to break through and send centre Scott Williams over. Kieran Meek added the first of what was to be seven conversions, and proceedings were punctuated further by tries from centre Paul King, skipper Dan Mock and wing Gerwyn Davies to produce a 26-0 half time lead.
Llanharan were also handicapped by Gareth John issuing a yellow against Paul Winter, and the visitors started the second half with left wing Mathew Loader scoring on the left.
Number 8 Kyle Tayler and replacement full back Jo Barrett added to the touchdowns with Williams getting a second to complete the rout.
But there was one moment to savour for home supporters as the swashbuckling Thomas swerved his way 40 metres to the line with Chen converting.
And Llanharan battled to the end, one brave tackle by promising outside half Rob Chen epitomising their spirit, but the ultimate loss of possession inevitably led to territory conceded and as the fresh Newbridge legs appeared so the tired limbs in the Dairyfield ranks became more of burden.
Llanharan try – Huw Thomas, Con – Rob Chen
Newbridge tries – Scott Williams 2, Mathew Loader, Pau King, Gerwyn Davies, Dan Mock, Kyle Tayler, Jo Barrett. Cons – Kieran Meek 7.
15 GAVIN PARSONS
14 ALEX HUGHES
13 CHRIS SHARKEY
12 RHYDIAN WORGAN
11 HUW RUSSELL
10 ROB CHEN
9 RHYS LANGDON
1 TOM HARRIS
2 SAM LLEWELLYN
3 PAUL WINTER
4 OWAIN HOWE
5 KIERAN MARTIN
6 RICHARD LAWRENCE
7 TOM WILSON
8. HUW THOMAS (CAPT)