The First XV despite bravely battling throughout and being in control for much of this enthralling game ultimately succumbed to this impressive Cefn Coed Wolves outfit, losing 9-21. The score line though did in no shape describe the events at the Recreation Ground as the Llantonians took on the league leaders.
This was by far the best performance Llantwit have produced this season especially as they had to make several changes to their line up from the previous fixture due to injuries and work commitments. The front row being their biggest concerns in the lead up to the game as you must have suitably trained and experienced players for these specialised positions, to naturally protect safety and prevent injury. If you don't then there is an option to play the game with uncontested scrums known as ‘going passive’. However to their credit which was also applauded by their opponents Llantwit decided they would explore every possible avenue to negate this eventuality which spoils the natural flow and adventure of the game. And when your facing the top team in the league could sometimes be seen as taking the easy option and using it as a tactic to disrupt a teams forward dominated play, a point that Cefn Coed felt has been used against them on more than one occasion this season.
Llantwit then without compromising safety searched and cajoled some players back onto the park with several players giving up work opportunities and family commitments to help out. It was then a mixture of young and old taking to the Rec as two youth and five forty plus players made the line up.
One of the nagging problems this season for Llantwit is they have often under performed in key fixtures and have been too lethargic in the first quarter of matches. Well this certainly wasn't the case on Saturday when spurred on by a passionate prematch speech by captain Huw Williams they hit the ground running smashing into the Wolves in tackles and runs with great ferocity and pace. This then was naturally reciprocated by the visitors leaving observers to wonder how an earth could these teams last the eighty minutes such was the impact they were making. Llantwit were making charge after charge up the middle of the field with Man of the Match Damion Gardner-Ponting to the fore of these exchanges and it was only the strong defensive qualities of the visitors that kept them from scoring. The first score coming from the boot of Dan Powell after the Wolves were penalised for handling in the ruck but the visitors soon replied with a kick of their own. The game continued seesawing from one end to the other with great plays and outstanding ferocity by both sides, Llantwit though were slowly gaining the upper hand and the pressure told as they were awarded several penalties unfortunately the normally reliable boot of Powell was only able to add one further penalty from three attempts taking the score at half time to 6-3.
The second half began in the same vain as the first as Llantwit again put immense pressure on the Cefn defence with supporters thinking the defence surely must break as the Llantwit runners pushe the pace of the game on. Eventually they did come away with another three points from Powell as Cefn were penalised for stopping youth player Iestyn Jones who was making his first start at scrum half from taking a quick penalty. As the game reached the sixty minute mark it did look as if the Llantonians were going to stay in front such was their domination but there is a reason Cefn Coed are top of the league and they just strangled the life out of the home side with their defensive line which was often put on the back foot but would just not buckle. You could see that Llantwit were tiring and spotting the weakness Cefn quickly crossed for two converted tries to put themselves firmly in control. Llantwit were now dead on their feet but were still not going to be counted out and remarkably came back into the game again as they peppered the Cefn line looking for a much deserved try with Josh Austin and Luke Dawes making several breaks which just for the last pass would have been rewarded. As is often the case when your trying so hard a well disciplined team will always hit back as the play becomes ragged and Cefn did having the final say crossing again before the final whistle.
It would seem then by the score line that this was a comfortable win for Cefn but this was not the case and the visitors were quick to acknowledge this stating the two hardest games of their season has been Llantwit home and away. Cefn were undoubtedly the better team but individually Llantwit were not outclassed and matched the league leaders in every facet of play. Something then for the team and coaches to work on for the future.
Further mention must go to Llantwit's youth players with Iestyn Jones after his cameo display at scrum half in the last game played the whole game this time again at nine with another scintillating performance; and Callum Stephens who stepped up to the mark coming on as a replacement prop to make his debut for the first team and gave a solid display against a much heavier opponent.
There is another break this week with Wales taking on Scotland in the Six Nations. All games will be shown at the Clubhouse with three bars, the biggest screen in Llantwit and several other screens, all members and non members are welcome to attend. Llantwit's next game is on Saturday 4 March away to Tonyrefail.