By Daniel Thomas
For the third successive week the North have had to scramble round to field a team, with no less than 22 boys making themselves unavailable. Although this was the case, it is a credit to those who do the scrambling as we did manage to get enough players to field a first and second team, even if there were only 16 players to travel for this game. We are not the only club with such issues, speaking to a Llantwit Major player, they have taken the difficult decision to run just one team this year due to their poor numbers. Hopefully we will not have to follow in their footsteps.
Due to the sparse number of players and cover for the front row, the North were forced into going to passive scrums from the kick off. This unfortunately meant they were unable to make any substitutes throughout the game. The fifteen men who took to the field, many of whom carrying existing injuries, had to show grit and determination to finish the game.
The first period of the game was dominated by the home side. It seemed that every time the North had the ball and took it into contact the opposition came away with it. Our lack of ability to build phases and pressure allowed Llantwit to start the game positively. They enjoyed a large period of possession deep inside our half. They looked dangerous on the attack but a defiant defensive effort ensured they didn’t cross the white wash. In this period the North conceded a number of penalties and Llantwit led 9-0. Another outcome of the North’s poor discipline in the first 20 minutes was a yellow card to Lewys Jones, it doesn’t matter what the referee suggests, you cannot argue with him.
The slow start had the North boys looking at themselves and it took a stern word before they started playing anywhere near their capabilities. The second 20 minutes of the half was controlled by the visiting side. Rob Sweetman unfortunately missed 2 penalty attempts that would have brought us back into the game, however it wasn’t long until Kieran Scoble got the first dab down of the game. A number of phases deep inside the 22 tested the home side’s defensive line, yet they were able to repel the efforts of our strong forward runners. It took a deft grubber kick from mini Scoble to get in behind and collect before crossing the line. The referee immediately gave the score. The first half finished 9-7.
The North had to continue playing the same way in the second half if they were going to come away with the points. Unfortunately for the first 5 or 10 minutes of the second half Llantwit Major managed to keep hold of the ball and nullify the momentum and confidence of the visiting team. They maintained pressure and scored an early try which proved to be a pivotal point in the game. The home side scored from a line out from which they dropped forwards into the back line. They attacked the space between the forwards and backs and made a clean break. The fleet footed outside back managed to canter in untouched for their first try of the game, making the score 16-7.
As the North tried to get back into the game they found it more and more difficult to compose themselves and keep a hold of the ball. By this point a few of the boys had taken further knocks and the walking wounded showed great desire to continue playing for the jersey. As the game wore on the North found it difficult to maintain their own possession, losing a number of lineouts in dangerous positions, and failed to impose themselves on the opposition. The North managed to work themselves into a scoring position from a good kick chase and were awarded with 2 penalties in front of the sticks. Rather than taking the game back to within one score the North opted to throw their cards on the table and go for the try. Unfortunately Llantwit’s defence were able to hold them out and the North’s last hopes of salvaging something from the game had probably gone as well.
The home side scored a further penalty kick and try with the score ending up at 23-7. The effort from the lads was unquestionable but we need to start playing the game with our top two inches. Too many times we made poor decisions that resulted in us putting unnecessary pressure upon ourselves. We need to ensure we get boys training so that everybody understands our patterns and we can carry them out effectively at the weekends.
Thank you to all at Llantwit Major RFC for your hospitality and we look forward to hosting the reverse fixture. Our appreciation also goes out to the match officials, coaches and travelling supporters. Keep your heads up boys, we stuck at it well, let’s be positive and get numbers to training this week.