By Daniel Thomas
The last game of the year
was to be against our local rivals, Llandaff. In recent years it has been a closely and fiercely contested fixture whereby those north of the river have come out on top over the last three occasions by fine margins. This fixture was to be no exception.
The game started off frantically as both sides enjoyed periods of pressure and opportunities. In truth the home side, Llandaff, enjoyed the lions’ share of possession in the first half but were unable to get over the try line. The North’s indiscipline meant that Llandaff were able to apply pressure deep inside our twenty two and although the defensive line held strong it gave the home side the opportunity to score two unanswered penalties and take the lead 6-0.
On the few occasions the North did hold onto the ball we looked particularly dangerous. From two separate set pieces the North’s centres managed to make clear line breaks and canter up the field. Skipper Daniel Thomas made the first bust with an excellently timed line off the scrum; he made thirty yards straight up the middle but was unable to find any support runners to keep the attack moving. The second occasion saw fellow centre Joseph O’Sullivan break a number of weak challenges at the line and sprint free, again he was not able to find any support runners and the move broke down.
The first thirty minutes had nothing much else to report on apart from the fact that a number of players from both sides were reprimanded by the referee. It was a typical local derby affair and both sides were getting frustrated at the breakdown. The likes of Owain Thomas and Joshua Gibbs stood firm and found themselves in the middle of most skirmishes… I wonder why. Despite not getting out of second gear up to this point the North’s pack and backline were far from being stretched. We were containing the attacks from the home side without putting on any pressure of our own.
The final five/ten minutes of the half was dominated by the visiting North and set the tone for the rest of the game. Our extremely effective scrum set the platform to attack once again (A scrum which also proved too strong for the home team when we went down to seven men). With some strong runners going forward we were able to gain momentum and keep the ball long enough to apply some real pressure of our own. We looked dangerous again but unfortunately settled for a kicked penalty to reduce the deficit by three at half time. The penalty kick as converted by Tom Jones.
Stern words were exchanged at half time and the team came out with a far more positive attitude towards playing rugby; keeping hold of the ball and applying pressure to the oppositions’ defensive line. The driving maul from the lineout was now also being used effectively to tie in defenders and create a strong platform from which we could attack. It was however a moment of brilliance that put the sword to Llandaff within the first ten minutes of the restart. Some strong surges were being made by the forwards around the half way line when scrum half Dafydd Williams spotted a gap near the ruck. He superbly bolted past the ruck and into the backfield making yet another clear break through the midfield. This time however open side flanker, Dominic Scoble followed him through and was on hand to run in the final 20 meters or so as Dafydd drew the final defender. Tom Jones missed the conversion and we now led in the game 8-6.
The final score of the game came from the driving maul, which at this point was being utilised with devastating effect. A deep kick into the oppositions’ half from Tom gave the forwards the opportunity they needed to get over the whitewash for the telling score. The maul was deployed excellently and there was a great deal of control as the ball found its way back into the hands of number eight Owain Thomas. He then bided his time before dotting the ball down as the boys in front of him trudged on past. Tom Jones converted this try and the game ended at 15-6. A similar set up almost saw Dominic Scoble get a second of the match; however, it was declared as double movement at the score was chalked off.
Towards the end of the game the boys battled on well and defiantly denied their arch rivals a bonus point. The boys started to tackle hard to ensure the game was won. A huge effort was put in by all of the lads, notably those upfront.
A great result which was thoroughly deserved and sets us off into the winter break in good mood. We would like to thank everyone who turned out to support us again; it is hugely appreciated by all of the players. Enjoy a nice break now and back to it for the first game in January against Fairwater