By Daniel Thomas
The first Saturday afternoon of first team rugby at Hailey park commenced today. The opponents, Bryncethin turned up with a strong and fresh looking outfit as their previous week’s game was called off due to an injured official. The home team however were again looking short as up to eight players, who have represented the first team over the previous couple of years, were still unavailable. The North, for the second week running, we unable to start the game with a complete front row (including cover) so were forced to play with just 15 players for the game. Great commendation should be made to those 15 who played today and stuck it out for the duration!
The North started the game fast and obtained a lot of the early pressure and the first points soon followed. A tackle from centre Rhys Morgan allowed his teammates an opportunity to contest the ball at the breakdown, the North were awarded a penalty and Rob Sweetman slotted the kick 3-0. A later unsuccessful penalty attempt saw a drop out 22 from the away team charged down and pounced upon by skipper Dominic Scoble. A powerful run ensued, followed by a couple of quick rucks before a beautiful slip pass to Owen Hembury saw him break the defensive line and brought down with a few meters to spare. The forwards were able to clean out the ruck quick enough for Jordan Gibbs to feed Rhys Morgan to crash his way over from short range. The kick was again however unsuccessful, 8-0. With just 15 men it would have been an ambitious effort to keep the game at this pace, even with the spirit the team showed throughout the game. The weather was surely going to take its toll, the fact that the North’s physio Keith Davies was noted to be wearing shorts was a pretty good indication as to what the weather was like out there.
Bryncethin started to gain more momentum in the game and their first attempt at points was foiled by an excellent try saving tackle from Rob Sweetman as the rest of the team helped ensure the ball stayed ungrounded. It was from the resulting scrum however, where they did manage to cross the whitewash. A well-executed backs’ move saw a player cross untouched, 8-7. Another unsuccessful penalty attempt for the North followed a period of play which saw both teams enter a bit of an arm wrestle and probably the best piece of skill I have ever seen! Scrum half Jordan Gibbs managed to skilfully collect a ball that came down from the lineout slightly behind him, this was not the best thing I had ever seen… however, the audacious attempt that seen him spin pass it through his legs, without looking, straight into the arms of the fly half was incredibly spectacular… Da iawn Sir! As the battle for ascendancy continued Llandaff North seemed to grow in stature. They ran some good patterns and a fantastic piece of interplay near the touchline unfortunately broke down and resulted in a turn over that saw the away team run almost the length of the pitch with speedy backline players. The kick was unsuccessful 8-12.
The team regrouped and again started to look rather threatening. Forwards were running hard close to the rucks and some of the backline players were starting to find little gaps appearing. It was during a piece of play where the North had worked a clear overlap on their left hand side where Rob Sweetman unfortunately threw and intercept pass on the half way line. It was the correct option to go wide early but unfortunately the one defender on that side had picked the same player as Rob did to target 8-19. Sweetman had an early opportunity to make amends for the pass and duly slotted an easy penalty opportunity inside the opposition 22, 11-19. The North continued to look threatening coming up to half time and a superb opportunity to bring the sides almost level went begging. Hywel James managed to make a nice slip pass to Owen Hembury to see him make a second clear break during the game from their own 22 meter line. The move broke down and the scrambling defenders quickly turned defence into attack as their rapid fullback ran another try in from a long way out. The North trailed at half time 11-26 but they were certainly still in the game, they had made many breaks and played some good rugby. A couple of mistakes and not being able to react quickly enough when turnovers occurred seemed to cost them dearly.
The second half started in much the same manner as the first. The North took the initiative after a well worked lineout move broke down to work in their favour. A well organised drive from the pack saw them grumble up the field a good 10-15 meters before being brought down. A couple of close rucks saw the ball unfortunately pick pocketed by an opposing loose forward, however a wobbly pass from their scrum half saw Jordan Gibbs intercept a pass with a well-timed dash to cross the line with what is becoming his signature ‘swan dive’. An unsuccessful kick, and the score looked like a more respectable and deserving 16-26. As the game tightened up the effort shown by the Llandaff North 15 was epitomised by the club’s captain Dominic Scoble. From a lineout in his own 22 Dominic burst through to disrupt the scrum half which saw him knock the ball to the ground, he subsequently fly hacked the ball twice racing past many outside backs along the way. The ball was fielded well by Bryncethin’s winger, who popped the ball between his legs to the fullback as Scoble tackled him during a 2 on 1 situation. The tiresome work from the skipper saw him bounce back up and tackle the fullback before he could get much further down the field of play as well and the rest of the forthcoming North defence managed to secure a penalty from the hard work shown.
The effort shown and commitment displayed was unfathomable by the men on the field but without the ability to use substitutes the North’s defence started to creek. Players started to miss first up tackles and with the speedy backs Bryncethin possessed it was inevitable further scores were going to come. Two tries were leaked through the midfield as the away team used decoy runners and blind side wingers effectively, 16-40. As the game drifted further away from the home team’s grasp Jordan Gibbs gave another moment or personal excellence for the home crowd to get excited about. He regathered his own Garry Owen when challenged by a number of defenders and ran a few hard yards before being dragged down. The resulting ruck was cleared out effectively and Dominic Scoble was on hand to keep the move flowing but when caught found it fittingly right to pop it back to Jordan Gibbs who managed to find himself back in support for his second try of the game. He was unable to convert his own try, 21-40. The last ten minutes saw the game really open up, many North players were finding it difficult to keep up with the pace but they valiantly tried to obtain the bonus point for scoring a fourth try. Unfortunately two further tries were conceded from long range as the opposing outside backs found they had more space to run in, 21-52. Another moment to epitomise the effort put in by those on the pitch today was during the final play of the game. Perhaps the eldest man on the pitch, definitely on our team, coach Mark caught the opposing winger when clear to ensure they didn’t score further points when the game was clearly out of reach. This note is more impressive when you consider Mark probably offered himself as a runner throughout the game as often if not more often than any other forward on the pitch! (Not all of them were effective!)
Well done to all of those involved on match day! Special thanks to Bryncethin RFC, coaches, groundsmen, supporters, barstaff, catering team and a huge hand for those 15 who stuck at it out on the field! Two new boys, Ben and Sid, worked tirelessly in the engine room today in what was a difficult first game, hopefully we will see you in games where there are further opportunities to express yourselves![match id=1380]
AMERICAN THEME PARTY SEPTEMBER 28TH 6.30 START!