By Daniel Thomas
After a week off the North had to travel Ynysowen. It was a sombre occasion as the game was preceded by two minutes silence, remembering those who lost their lives in the Aberfan disaster on its 50 year anniversary. The teams stood side by side and faced Aberfan to show their respect.
The game started and the home team came out of the blocks well. They were able to keep hold of the ball for the first ten minutes and applied some real pressure from the off. The North’s defence stood firm to the test and repelled what Ynysowen had to offer, despite on one occasion getting very close to the line. From a lineout just outside the twenty two the home team’s number eight side stepped captain Lewys jones and left him for dead, striding up the field. It was for the heroic efforts of John Rhys Davies who put his body on the line to make the try saving tackle barely ten meters from the line.
For the rest of the first half the North dominated possession and field position through a set piece that was extremely effective throughout the game. There were several opportunities for the away team to score but unfortunately we were unable to convert them into points. The final passes were hitting the ground, we were held up over the line and were losing balls in the contact area deep inside the opposition twenty two. Although many opportunities went begging the only score of the game came within the first twenty minutes from a well-worked backline move.
A solid platform at the scrum allowed the backline some clean ball to run their lines and hold the defensive midfield. An out the back pass gave Rob Sweetman the opportunity to run the ball wide and put in the chip to the corner which was collected and scored by Jordan Gibbs. Rob then proceeded to convert the kick from the side line and gave us the 7-0 lead we took into the half time stoppage. The backline looked very dangerous in the opening twenty five, thirty minutes but unfortunately the elements were against us as it began to rain and the game got more scrappy.
The only other real moment of the first half worth a mention also goes to skipper Lewys Jones. There was a clear and obvious overlap out wide and it was evidently noticed by the number eight who knew to get the ball wide as quick as possible. Instead of going through the hands Lewys took it upon himself to throw a pass that took three of our own players out of the game. The sole defender also saw what was going to happen, plucked the ball from the air and galloped up the field. It was again for the heroics of John Rhys Davies to bail him out again with a superb covering tackle (I hope you have bought him a beer). In fairness to the North, several boys got back to defend the scenario but it was for the seething presence of Lewys Jones who made amends for his mistake and claimed the turnover at the second ruck from the play. In at half time 7-0.
Despite the North’s dominance the score line did not reflect the game. A conscious decision to start taking points on offer was made and two further kicks from Rob Sweetman in the second half saw the game finish at 13-0. The North’s defence was strong throughout and never really looked like conceding as long as Lewys didn’t have the ball…
There were some really good performances throughout the game. Pat Howell had some barnstorming runs up the field, even made it over the line on one occasion, however he was unable to get the ball to ground. He is therefore still one try behind the Pup. Former skipper Dominic Scoble had a strong game in the loose and complemented a balanced back row performance alongside Lewis Wilkie and Lewys Jones. The front five worked tirelessly around the pitch whilst providing an excellent platform at scrum and lineout. Eliot Gould was lucky to stay on the pitch after a questionable tackle as George, Max and Gaggsy got on with their jobs without any fuss.
The backs did the basics well in a game that got more scrappy as it went on. A great debut performance from Rory; he was tenacious with the ball in hand, always looking to beat the defender whilst continuously looking for work. By enlarge nobody else did anything to shout about; the most impressive ‘break’ came from our back row from a restart after Rob Sweetman slotted one of his penalties.
After taking the restart loose forward Lewis Wilkie offered a line a bit wider from where the ball dropped. He managed to punch his way through the first line of defence and beat one or two more defenders as he made upwards of fifteen, twenty meters up the pitch. Eventually they brought him to ground but a fantastic offload from the floor to a hurtling Lewys Jones saw him run clear again from the defenders. By this point we are fifty, sixty meters up the field and only one defender to beat. Lewys’ run was reminiscent of Justin Tipuric’s score against Newcastle and it must have gone through his mind as he also tried the chip over the top. However, Lewys’ attempt was not as successful; it came straight off the side of the boot and out into touch just five meters short of their line. Not to worst possible outcome…
A good effort from all of the lads involved! A huge thank you to Ynysowen for their hospitality and a game of rugby played in a great spirit. Appreciation also goes out to the club members who made the journey to support us, the boys are extremely grateful for your support.