It has been 7 long weeks since we last played at home and it was a pleasure to welcome Rhiwbina to Hailey Park on the 1st day of December. The team were up for this match, this was more than a North Cardiff derby this was all about Monday morning bragging rights at school.
Rhiwbina won the toss and elected to receive, the ball soared high into the air from the kick and the game was on. There were some ferocious early exchanges and the breakdown was hotly contested by both teams. Excellent defence by both teams meant that 15 minutes had passed with no score. Something had to give and a strong run down the left wing led to a try by the visitors despite some desperate covering defence by the North. The try was converted and Rhiwbina led 7-0. The North came roaring back: a feed by Anthony and a blindside break by Alex nearly led to the equaliser but he was caught short of the line and forced into touch. No further score 1st half.
HT: Llandaff North 0 – 7 Rhiwbina
The first score was always going to be crucial and so it turned out to be. Some strong rucking by props Owen and Kyle and a quick recycling by Euan at scrum half led to good field position. The Boys from the North drove the ball forward and a series of penalties close to the line gave them their first real opportunity. Rhiwbina were defending heroically, but eventually they had to yield and Alex burrowed over from close range. Sion converted: all square 7-7, game on!
Llandaff North were starting to get the upper hand, with Aneurin marshalling and guiding his troops from outside half (as well as making some BIG hits). Some more good work at the breakdown led to a turnover. There was space out wide on the right, Joe, Alex & Sam spotted it and they set off. The ball moved through the hands and Usain (sorry Sam) took off accompanied by the yells of the crowd and his team mates, there was only one place he was going and he touched down in the corner. Alex converted, 14-7 to Llandaff North.
Rhiwbina were not backing down and they came charging back. Some good work by their forwards took them dangerously close to the line. Their number 10 got the ball and drove hard for the whitewash. Some great tackling by the North looked to have held him up, but showing determination and quick thinking he stretched out and placed the ball on the line. Try. Another safe conversion and it was back to all square, 14-14.
This was a game that neither side wanted to lose and it was obvious from the efforts of both sides how much they wanted to win. The tackling and rucking was ferocious but always fair and there would have been a few bruises on Monday morning. Thanks to the efforts of Ioan and James in the engine room North won possession in midfield, Sion took off on a typical bullocking gallop and it took three attempts to bring him down. Quick recycling at the breakdown and good midfield passing by Rhodri and Tom led to the ball once again ending up in Sam’s hands. Flanked by his wingmen he took off. Once more there was only one place that he was heading for. Try number 3. The conversion was inches wide, 19-14 to the North.
5 minutes to go, two well matched teams hungry for the win, who wanted it more? Rhiwbina threw everything they had at the try line. The thin black line stood firm, with Findlay tackling his heart out once again. Some excellent defence led to a knock on by Rhiwbina. Scrum and feed to the North. Last play was the call from the ref. 9 and 2 made no mistake and the ball was safely delivered to Alex. We all watched as the kick sailed over our heads and safely into touch.
Final score: Llandaff North 19-14 Rhiwbina
Tries: Alex, Sam (2)
Conversions: Sion, Alex
This was an excellent game of rugby, reflected by the generous and genuine applause by both sets of supporters at the end. Two well matched competitive teams playing excellent running rugby, alongside some determined defence and fierce rucking. Well done both teams.
Man of the Match: James Kloss