08 January 2019 / Club News

First XV suffer loss as St Albans prove too strong in highly entertaining game.

The First XV travelled to the capital last week with the their tails up after a couple of good performances but come unstuck against a well drilled and organised St Albans outfit who were worthy of their now second place in the league after this 33-25 win in an enthralling encounter.

The Blood and Blacks had probably their best starts to the game and arguably their best half of the season as they tore into The Buns setting up play after play with strong runs as forwards and backs combined to dent the already drifting home defence. 
The try soon coming as first flanker Gareth Watts tied in the big defenders with a powerful burst over the home sides 22 then with quick recycled ball the momentum continues as the backs put the ball nicely through the hands to allow centre Jack Austin to cross out wide. The conversion just sailing wide from outside half Howley.
Llantwit were quickly back into attack phase again as they set about a bewildered looking Buns who had hardly had their hands on the ball before scrum half Ryan Evans had added a further six points with two big penalty kicks. The eleven point lead for the intensity of the Llantwit play particularly at the breakdown where the effervescent Stuart Edbrooke at seven was causing the home side no end of trouble.
Llantwit with all the possession then became camped on their opponents 22 as they searched for their second try and in nearly a carbon copy of the build up to the first they tied in some defenders before gaps appeared out wide. But instead of keeping the ball in hand Howley went for a delicate chip over his not so delicate opponent who charged it down and then hacked it thirty metres down field. With the covering defence scrambling back The Buns managed another hack on again over the Llantwit line and in the melee that unfolded to ground the ball it was The Buns who came away with a great opportunist try.
Llantwit though to their credit didn’t let this blemish abate their good first half performance as they defended admirably a now resurgent home side and then looked to counter attack at every opportunity. Some further foul play allowing a penalty to be kicked for a Llantwit line out fifteen metres out. Which the visitors took no time in securing before setting off for the whitewash with a strong looking driving maul which despite some valiant defending crossed with number eight Rob Carter grounding the ball with Evans adding the two point conversion with a great kick from out wide.
But The Buns are in second place in the league for a reason and were soon coming back into the game strongly particularly at the line out where they constantly made good ground from. And it was the home side next on the score card as some pressure near to the Llantwit line saw them spears the ball wide through the backs and cross for a fine three-quarters try.
The score at half time 12-18 to Llantwit but such was the visitors dominance and The Buns resurgence the travelling supports were left pondering whether this would be enough. And that must have been going through player coach Edbookes mind as well; as his half time team talk was not containing much of the social graces that you would have expected from someone who had attended Finishing School!
But alas it was to no avail as it was The Buns who edged themselves into the lead shortly after the break with another superbly executed score from their three quarters as they crossed again close to the posts for another converted try to take the score to 19-18.
The next period proved to be a stale mate as both teams battered each other in an attempt to gain territory with powerful drives but from the visitors point of view they were often undone by a lack of patience and composure at critical times. This coupled with a far too often failure to clear out opponents at the break down meant good possession was crucially lost.
Some timely replacements though brought some much needed live into the Llantwit attack as they gained some good territory from replacement back rower Dan Bawden who on collecting a kick inside his 22 went on a great run upfield before off loading to fellow flanker Gareth Watts who rumbled on again crossing the half way line. The move falling flat only from a cynical penalty from the retreating home defence. The penalty kick though gave Llantwit a great opportunity from the resultant line out. This time their driving maul letting them down but on recycling they kept pushing for the line with a couple of quick rucking phases which allowed Gareth Watts to charge over. Evans again slotting over the two points to give Llantwit a six point lead.
Now with just twelve minutes left on the clock all Llantwit needed to do was batten down the hatches and face up to inevitable onslaught from the home side as they pushed for the crucial score.
And it seemed to start well as Llantwit collected the ball well from the restart and settled into keeping possession but were robbed of possession too easily and then allowed The Buns outside half to amble through a huge gap in defence and race over the 22 and then disastrously for the Llantonians was only stopped illegally by fullback Josh Austin. The inevitable yellow card shown and with it any hopes of keeping out the home side till the final whistle, ended. The Buns taking little time to romp over for their third try. And it didn’t end there either as they crossed again before the final whistle for a well deserved bonus point fourth try.
Man of the Match for Llantwit was again Gareth Watts who was crucial to two of their three tries.
A fine game for any neutrals watching the problem being that neutrals don’t watch these games and this was a cruel blow of a result for the Llantonians as they put so much into the game to leave with nothing. But as good as St Albans were with strong performances at 8, 10 and 12. Llantwit were the victim of their own down fall in not managing the game correctly at crucial stages and one or two players need to look at their own game and own fitness levels as far too often this season the same small group of players were doing all the work.
Plenty to work on then but will have to be in double quick time this week Canton are the visitors to The Rec. The league leaders are unbeaten all season and Llantwit will need the same performance and some if they are not going to be blown away once again. Kick off is at 2:30pm.

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