15 January 2019 / Club News

League leaders Canton prove too good for First XV in 20-27 loss

Top dogs Canton arrived at The Recreation Ground with their tales up having the enviable record of being unbeaten all season and picking up a plethora of bonus points on the way. And they proved why they are running away with the league with a strong and resolute performance here despite Llantwit pushing them all the way.

And in fact it was the Blood and Blacks who were often in the lead and dominated as in recent games in many facets of the game. 
The first period was an edgy affair with both teams having an aggressive go at each other’s lines but the opposing and just as aggressive defence was more than enough to subdue the attacks. And is often the case the kickers started trading points.
With Llantwit playing towards the School End they did though use a strong and bitterly cold wind to their advantage with two out of three attempts from centre Jack Austin. The big centre taking over the duties in the absence of regular kickers Loz Howley and Ryan Evans. Howley having been loaned out to Neath for the day as their well documented plight continues and Evans serving a three week suspension. Austin though stepped up well having a good day with the boot. 
It was then that Llantwit started to dominate particularly in first phases where they were started to turn the screw on their opponents. A good scrum on the Canton ten metre line gave the Llantwit back line to stretch their legs some lovely crisp passing from scrum half Connor Morgan and outside half Kian Spillane with some nice dummy runners saw full back Josh Austin come into the line and make good distance into the 22 before being hauled down. It was then time for big boys to do their stuff with Lock Shaun Shea and captain prop Geraint David both making deep charges into the fray. Some excellent clearing out gave nine, ten and fifteen a chance to link up again and stretch the defence further. Then as the Canton defence held up well it was time for patience something lacking in recent games but which shone here as just metres from the line, Llantwit went through a further ten phases as they edged forward and stretched their attacks across the field until hooker Huw Williams bobbed and weaved and finally scrambled over for a great team try. Jack Austin adding the two points.
But as has often been the case this season just as they had worked hard for the score they then give teams a lifeline back into the the game . This time not immediately but they were soon back peddling into their own 22 as Canton sniffed a try their own. The defence looking assured until they were penalised and subsequently down to fourteen for going into the side at a driving maul. The visitors taking no time to gain advantage crossing not once but twice to leave the game perilously close at 13-15 at the break.
The second half started well for Llantwit as they continued their dominance in the first phases of the line out and scrummage. One period giving them a great opportunity with a driving line out maul trundling nicely to the Canton line only to be stopped by the visitors coming into the side of the maul. The resultant penalty only earning a ticking off from the official compared to the similar yellow in the first half leaving the one eyed Llantwit support scratching their heads.
Canton then though as all good teams can do came battling back once again this time though Llantwit were well organised and defended aggressively well pushing Canton back despite defending for an eternity on their own line. Then they managed a great turn over with centre Jack Austin going from hero to villain in a split second as he broke through only to throw a reckless offload in front of his posts which Canton said thank you very much to and crossed for a seven point present. 
Llantwit weren’t punched out yet though and came back strongly with a period of good possession  in the Canton half rewarded with a penalty try such was the now dominant home scrum.
The score line now 20-22 in Cantons favour.
And this was when the visitors showed why they are top dogs in this league as they kept a battling Llantwit penned back in their own half for the majority of the last period. Even when they were reduced to fourteen the visitors having elected for passive scrums they penned them back. And without one of their dominant weapons in the scrum now disabled Llantwit just didn’t have enough in their arsenal to push through the advantage. And had to suffer before the final whistle a further dent in their pride as the Canton fourteen crossed once again when poor defending allowed a gap to big for the visitors to not expose as they once again crossed for a bonus point try.
The embarrassment not ending their either as centre Jack Austin let his own frustrations and a complete lack of discipline get the better of him as he was red carded for abusing the match official in the dying deaths of the game. Churlish and completely unacceptable behaviour.
Mam of the Match for Llantwit was outside half Kian Spillane who despite carrying several injuries stepped up to the mark and had a solid game with some delightfully lovely deft passing at times.
Another highly entertaining game then for the Llantonians but yet again they were only left with the thoughts of what could and might have been once against one of the top teams. You can not fault the passion and endeavour but they really need to start learning from this slacking of not being able to maintain their what is very impressive tempo of play which mostly comes from poor game management.
All is not over though and plenty of good rugby to be played out still. To the future they must now look and it is just small margins they need to conquer before they can reap the rewards of their hard work.
A further observation made by our statistician over the weekend was that out of the squad of twenty that all played on Saturday, eighteen were raised or bred in our town a seriously good accomplishment which arguably not many clubs if any in the entire country could brag about. An appraisal not just for the senior rugby but the foundations that were laid by our youth team, our mini and junior sections and local schools and their army of volunteers. In rugby Diolch Yn Fawr.

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