06 March 2019 / Club News

Howley leads the way as First XV run in six tries to rout Llandaff


The First XV travelled into the capital to take on Llandaff and for the second game running scored six tries in an emphatic 0-44 win at Bishops Field. The game thankfully just managing to be played out in relatively dry conditions with Storm Freya arriving shortly after the final whistle. 
Llantwit had done their homework on Llandaff and new they were a team like themselves sitting mid table but crucially hadn’t lost to any opponents by more than eight points all season and had a sharp back line to boot who were not afraid to run loose when given any opportunity. The message coming from the coaches was to keep the game tight and stick to setting up phases for half backs Ryan Evans and Laurence Howley to control the game with tactical kicking.
The Blood and Blacks enforcing the game plan from the off as they kept the game tight and relied on their strong set pieces to gain ascendency and they were soon in control, especially in the scrum where the front row of Geraint David, Huw Williams and Dave Taylor were already giving their opponents no end of problems. Then as the visitors started setting up phases flanker Rhys’s Hewitt and number eight Gareth Watts were soon gaining good ground. Llandaff though came out of the blocks just as fast and were resolute in defence and making some good ground themselves as the first quarter edged back and for. However the pressure was slowly building in Llantwit’s favour and shown by the award of two penalties in succession which Howley slotted over despite being a good way out.
The first try soon coming as some more pressure forced Llandaff to box kick from a line out close to their own line. The kick caught well by wing Evan Holloway who set off infield before being held up well by the Llandaff defence which Llantwit were fortunate to have rule in their favour, but they did, and as Llandaff had committed so many to the resulting ruck they were now exposed out wide. Scrum half Ryan Evans quickly spreading the ball to a make shift back line with centre Josh Austin receiving and immediately throwing a lovely flat pass onto Howley who spotting a mismatch sliced through the remaining defence on a nice angle to gallop over in the corner. And he didn’t finish there as he then proceeded to convert his own try from the touchline.
The second try came crucially just before half time with Llandaff unable to deal with some loose ball from a line out just inside their own 22, number eight Watts catching the fullback as he tried a clearing kick. Captain Geraint David recovering the ball and making a dive for the line fell agonisingly short, the ball though was quickly recycled again and this time flanker Dan Bawden was on hand to drive over. Howley again converting from out wide to give the visitors a 0-20 lead at the break.
The team talk at half time was all about keeping to the game plan and not letting their opponents back into the game as the visitors new Llandaff were a better side than the scoreline suggested and would be throwing everything at them in the second half.
And Llandaff didn’t disappoint as they set into Llantwit straight from the restart and attacked at every opportunity giving everything they had at Llantwit but as much as they tried they just couldn’t break through the visitors defence and slowly Llantwit again began to turn the screw on their opponents once again. 
The breakthrough coming from a strong line out on the Llandaff 22 which Llantwit drove on towards the try line and when finally stopped yards from the line, hooker Williams had a pick and go at the line only to be stopped inches short. As the ball was being recycled a penalty was awarded and Llantwit with the healthy points gap opted for a scrum rather than the posts. Soon reaping the reward as a strong push and wheel gave Watts at eight room to pick up and drive wide where he offloaded to scrum-half Evans to scamper over in the corner. Howley adding the conversion with another big kick.
The fourth try was a real killer blow to Llandaff as they had just started to gain some parity and were hunting for some points but some poor tactical kicking found themselves back in their own 22. They cleared their line out but a further wild kick as the Llantwit pack piled through was gratefully collected by Llantwit fullback Connor Morgan and a long pass wide from Morgan to Josh Austin gave  the centre space to draw his defender in before releasing wing Evan Holloway who was coming up like a whippet after the hare on the outside and sped over in the corner for a unconverted try.
And it wasn’t long before Holloway was again touching down in virtually the same spot this time a peach of a try coming straight out of attack coach Rob Morgan’s manual. The move  at a line out just inside the Llandaff half, Llantwit secured the ball and then edged the maul forward a few yards tying in any loose forwards before releasing to the half backs. Howley throwing out wide as both centre Joel Thomas and Connor Morgan went on dummy runs as Austin collected and then released replacement wing Rhys Dixon coming on a looping run made further ground before passing back to Austin who again released the whippet once again down the line to send the travelling support into raptures.
The last period was really all about Llandaff as this proud outfit under the now darkening skies and the towering magnificent Llandaff Cathedral went all out to salvage some pride and attacked the Llantwit line form every quarter. Llantwit though were just as determined to keep out their opponents and a right battle ensued. And it just wasn’t to be the home sides day as it was the visitors who had the final say as a now shattered Llandaff conceded a scrum on their own 22 as the the Llantwit eight power diver them, replacement flanker Rhys David pouncing on the loose ball, a couple pick and goes were administered; first by the old warhorse lock Shaun Shea, then Geraint David, then fellow lock Jamie Lewis got in on the act. All the time edging forward the ball eventually released to Williams who with a lovely show and go and some neat footwork for a hooker piled through and when stopped it was finally time to release the three-quarters and with centre Joel Thomas running another good dummy run the defence was in tatters, centre Austin releasing a pass for fullback Morgan to stroll round to the posts. Howley finishing as he started by kicking the final points.
A great performance then on the road for the Blood & Blacks and a great spectacle for the viewer which it must be said Llandaff who had a couple of key players missing more than played their part in, attacking and defending till the death. 
Man of the Match was number eight Gareth Watts who made the hard yards and linked well at the base of the scrum. Further mention going to the half backs, Evans who was like a general in organising his pack and Howley who braced nineteen points of his own.
The Llantonian’s now have another enforced break this time a fortnight for the Six Nations finale, their next game not until Saturday the 23rd of March when they face the daunting task of the long trip up to Treherbert to take on the Red Devil’s. The Rhondda Valley outfit already one up having beaten Llantwit 15-18 in a tight game at home earlier this season will no doubt be determined to do the double and also earn some valuable points as they are still well in contention for promotion, an intriguing contest awaits.
Off the field the clubhouse will naturally be showing all the international rugby with all three bars open including the Function Room. Non members are warmly invited to attend as we hopefully cheer Wales onto a Grand Slam.


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