By Daniel Thomas
After a week’s rest the North boys returned to league action by travelling to Cowbridge; a strong squad was assembled to play the last game before the autumn internationals break. Despite the difference in league positions and form it was made clear that the coaching staff wanted nothing less than an emphatic performance to ensure we keep pace with the other teams in the league, who are seemingly pulling away from the majority.
Although this was the case the North boys didn’t seem to get it right in the first 20 minutes of the game. It was not due to their lack of effort or desire to go out and perform; many errors in different areas of the park didn’t allow them to keep hold of the ball for any sustained period of time to put pressure on the home team. With this, Cowbridge enjoyed more of the ball that we would have liked them to have had and took confidence from their early start. Their tails were up and the North boys were starting to fall off first up tackles. After 15 minutes Cowbridge inevitably scored the first try of the game. Poor tackling allowed the home team to gain momentum from a lineout deep inside the North half. The rumble was kept on and they soon crossed over the whitewash and converted the kick successfully.
The score gave the North the kick up the backside they needed. The word went around that we needed to calm down and get back to doing the basics well and keep hold of the ball. Earlier in the half we had boys such as Elliot running away from the ball resulting in a knock on and Nicky Dimond losing the ball in contact twice (one of which was ripped off him by the opposing number 10). After holding the ball for a short period of time the North managed to build enough pressure to score a try of their own. Some strong running from both forwards and backs took the play into the opposition’s 22. The North ran hard from 10 meters out but the Cowbridge defence held out well. A scrum was eventually awarded and Lewys Jones managed to pick up from the base and march the required 10 meters to the line untouched. The try was successfully converted by Jordan Gibbs who had another great day with the boot. The North looked more dominant in the last 10 minutes of the half and further pressure resulted in penalty from which the kick was taken. The North led the game at half time 10-7 but it was far from convincing at this point and Cowbridge were very much still in the game.
Stern words were given out by the coaches, Dai and Dai Gats, at half time and the boys knew that they had to step up their efforts for the second period. From this point onwards the North’s pack took a dominant hold on the game from which they would not surrender until the final whistle. The scrum was unremorseful as the dominance was most visible during this aspect of the game. The resulting penalties allowed the North to take play deep into the opposition’s half. Max had a gutsy game around the park and also found most of his jumpers in the lineouts. A lineout catch and drive resulted in Lewys going over for his second try of the game. Scoble took it and gave it to Elliot, who was able to catch the ball on this occasion, to set up the driving maul. Lewys managed to get his paws on the ball and work himself to the back of the pack and eventually crossed the line to dot the ball down. Unfortunately Jordan was unable to convert the score on this occasion but it was from a tricky angle to be fair, 15-7.
The next score came after a number of solid phases from the kick off. Club skipper, Dominic Scoble took the restart and ran the ball back well. He managed run around the kick chasing defenders and canter up the field. The lack of support from breaks has been a focus for our team over the last few weeks and it became evident how effective support runners can be on this occasion. The North’s Danny Thomas got on Scoble’s shoulder as he drew a covering defender. The centre was brought down as soon as he received the ball going over the half way line. The forwards came in behind and cleared out the defenders. Some further strong running from Kieran Scoble, amongst others continued to ensure we got ourselves into a position from which we could strike. After another couple of phases the North found themselves inside the 22 meter line. By this time Danny Thomas had been able to get himself up from the floor and back up with the play, though he did find himself standing in at first receiver. Before receiving the ball he looked outside to see a hungry Lewys, who was looking for his hatrick, running from the inside centre position. Danny received the ball and looked to give the loose forward his opportunity for another score immediately, however it became apparent that the Cowbridge defence also saw Lewys as the main threat and all but two players ran straight towards him to leave a gap in the line. A show and go saw puppy make the break inside the 22 with just the full back to beat. In true centre fashion the pup went over the top of the defender and managed to get his arms free to dot the ball down for his side’s third try of the game. Jordan kicked the conversion and the North now lead in the game 22-7.
By this point the game was all but over as a contest and the game started to get a little looser. A lovely bit of individual skill from Lloyd Rayer saw him chip the ball over the defensive line and gather it before running clear. Again the pup managed to anticipate the break and got on his shoulder. Unfortunately however he again got caught as he received the pass. With a little more gas these half chances may get converted – sprint training for the pup over the autumn international period. It was when the game got a little looser that Cowbridge scored their second try of the game. The North were unable to complete a clean exit play from inside their 22 and the home team were awarded a penalty. A quick tap penalty was taken and the ball was thrown wide. The defensive line pushed well and seemed to have the ground covered, at one point it looked as if we had an overlap ourselves… The ball was given to their winger and Gareth Llewellyn decided not to tackle him but instead run alongside him and guide him towards the try line. They weren’t able to kick the extras and the score was 12-22.
Conceding the try obviously upset many of the visiting forwards and the intensity was notched up one level further. The play was taken into Cowbridge’s 22 from some superb positional kicking and powerful running before a set of scrums were given. On one occasion the ball came out the back of the scrum and Shaggy beat a number of defenders to get over the line but unfortunately he did not put the ball down, he knocked it on. From the resulting scrum five meters out the North really stepped it up. The drive was powerful and saw the scrum retreat at a rate of knots. The drive took the ball over the line and it was Lewys Jones who managed to secure the dab down and his third of the afternoon. Jordan Gibbs kicked the conversion and the North led 29-12.
The final score of the game came from a superb move out wide. Jordan ran an excellent line off the pup to fix the midfield defenders whilst the pass behind the back was delivered to the looping Lloyd Rayer. The outside half was able to show excellent pace as he bolted past the defenders and outran the cover to score a 40/50 meter try. The kick was again successful and the full time score was 36-12.
Other noteworthy points for the write up – New boy ‘Matthew DuckArse Davies’ came onto the field on the wing late in the second half and was given the ball with lots of space in front of him. There was a defender present but there was enough room to attempt the outside arc and score on debut. Unfortunately the debutant showed as much gas as Danny Thomas and will also struggle to keep up with Lloyd as he continues to make his breaks this year… Moulden and Jordan played well – constantly being niggly and generally getting on the other team’s nerves as you would expect with cheeky little digs etc… Kieran Scoble had an absolute blinder again – the kid was bloody everywhere! He made tackles, ran with the ball and made a dodgey looking kick too.
A big thank you for all those involved with the game day. Our gratitude goes out to Cowbridge RFC, groundsmen, bar staff, caterers, coaches, players and our continually positive travelling support. A bit of a break now for the boys but continue to make training as we have Dinas next in the league who are also going well.