02 January 2018 / Club News

First XV cling on to edge out Cowbridge in derby game

Llantwit hung on to win the second derby game of the season 9-6 at the Recreation Ground, the score line with no tries being scored well disguising the fact that this was a thoroughly entertaining game. And given the fact that the conditions were pretty miserable with a heavily sodden pitch and a strong westerly sea gale to contend with the game turned out to be quite a spectacle especially for the purists of rugby football union.
The game watched by a huge crowd swelled by a large Cowbridge following saw Llantwit playing towards the School End in the first half receive the kick off and immediately both sets of players tore into each other with the expected guts and frenzy you would expect from the derby game now in its 129th year. The ferocity of the play continuing at such a pace of hard running and counter attacking defence you would have thought after only ten minutes there was no way this game could last such intensity; but it did and some, right up to the death which was a credit to both teams passion and desire to come away with the spoils.
The first points came from the boot of outside half Lawrence Howley who shocked players and supporters alike when given a penalty kick, just a short distance inside the Cowbridge half and out wide, pointed to the sticks instead of taking a kick to touch. Howley has no doubt a good boot on him but even his most loyal of supporters must have thought despite the strong wind in his favour that the distance was a tad too far for him. 
But he backed himself and once settled down from all the previous ferocity, he calmly stepped up and struck the ball sweetly raising it into the wind and had already turned away and was running back for the restart as the ball sailed plumb through the posts, such was his confidence that it had the distance.
Cowbridge though as you would expect immediately fought back and and made several good field positions but thankfully for the home support they failed to get near enough to the try line or into any kicking range to convert territory into points.
Llantwit then extended their lead after a strong defensive line and a great jackal by Stuart Edbrooke awarded the home side another penalty in the same area of the pitch and this time there was no surprise when Howley elected to kick for the posts and again slotted home to add a further three points.
Cowbridge again bounced back and some good attacking pressure gave them a line out 10 metres out from the Clubhouse end and an inevitable driving maul was awaiting. But a communication error in the Cowbridge throw instead saw Joe Hartley steal the ball and race up field before being haulded down but the damage had been done and the sting taken out of the attack.
With time running out it looked like that would be it for the first half but some strong running by big Gareth Watts at number eight and a pressure scrummage put Cowbridge under mor Peres sure and gave Howley a third penalty attempt this time much closer on the 22 and again struck sweetly to give Llantwit a 9-0 lead going into the break.
However the knowledgeable supporter was quickly thinking was nine points enough as the game had been very close and in the second half the away team would now as bodies began to tire have the conditions very much in their favour as they played with down towards the School End.
The first twenty minutes were a stale mate as both teams took turns in attacking each other, with no quarter given by either side then the game bounced back and for across the middle of the park as Llantwit desperately defended to keep the visitors out of kicking range.
And this arm wrestle continued again and again at every phase scrum, line out, attacking runs and tactical kicks were swapped tit for tat by the teams to see who would blink first and let their guard down. And it was Cowbridge who gained the first ascendency as some string running gave them a kickable penalty and they got their first score with three points.
Then a cruel blow hit Llantwit as their talisman Howley was carried off with a nasty looking hamstring injury. This was now a real test of desire and effort from the Llantonians as they had already started to clear their bench and a reshuffle saw flanker Dan Farrel taking up a very unaccustomed role on the wing.
Cowbridge no doubt buoyed by this and sensing a possible implosion upped the ante once more and threw everything into attack and as much as the home side could muster something had to give and soon the away team were awarded a kickable penalty and the score was 9-6 going into the last period.
And as the day drew in and the the floodlights came on the atmosphere and noise from the big crowd was electric as supporters nervously anticipated a mammoth last effort from the teams.
Cowbridge who were gaining more and more possession peppered the sky with huge kicks but the defending back three were always up to the task and stood their ground with strong catches and repelling runs. And as the clock ticked down Llantwit managed to get from somewhere one more effort and pushed the Cowbridge line back into their own half and away from any dangerous kicking range with flanker Donovan Stoppel to the fore as he finally stormed through the proverbial brick wall that was the Cowbridge defence.
But for Llantwit supporters the best sight all day was the refere raising his arm and blowing the final whistle to bring the battle to an end.
This was a great win for Llantwit especially as they had previously lost three on the bounce to their neighbours and more importantly as Cowbridge are top of the league and rightfully so as they are a very good outfit. They have players who are very well drilled and intelligent rugby players especially around the breakdown and have a scrum as good as any Llantwit have countered this season. But the win was well deserved if only for pure effort in battling as one against a huge onslaught in the second half. The coaches deciding that the Man of the Match be given to the whole twenty players such was their combined determination to win the game.
Llantwit would like to thank Cowbridge for playing part in what was a great event on and off the field. The scene being well set early in the day as over a hundred guests from both clubs were wined and dined at a pre match lunch. And the social side continued well on into the night as players and supporters mingled together in true rugby fashion.
Llantwit would further like to thank their sponsors who with out their continuing support they would not be able to provide rugby for the twelve teams they run from under eights right through to the senior grades. 
This week the Llantonians are again at home as they take on Canton in the league. And this game certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly as after a slow start to the season have just put two good victorious together. Next up then Llantwit take on Tylorstown away and then Treherbert back at home. With both these teams above them in the league then it can’t be understated that the next few weeks will make or break Llantwit’s season and the word still being quietly spoken, that is, promotion!
Elsewhere Llantwits second team the Druids will hope to be in action again away at Maesteg Harlequins as they hope to get their season back on track having had last weeks opponents Llanharan postpone their match as they were unable to field a side. If anyone is interested in playing for the Druids please contact Team Manager Roger Elliott on 07971223001.


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