The First XV fell 9-8 to Tonyrefail on a heavily sodden ground in the league on Saturday. As the scoring would suggest this was hardly a game of much quality and entertainment but was nonetheless an intriguing game. Playing against a strong bitterly cold wind and at times horizontal rain Llantwit were under the cosh from the outset as Tonyrefail threw everything at the visitors in an attempt to take advantage of the conditions. The Llantonians soon going down to a successful penalty kick after they had been penalised several times as they sought to compete at the tackle area.
As the game settled down from Tonyrefail’s early onslaught, so did Llantwit and they slowly began to play themselves into the game making some good gains with several strong runs into the Ton half. This was eventually rewarded with an excellent try considering the conditions. The play starting with some powerful runs by Geraint David and for the second match in a row Man of the Match Damian Gardner-Ponting which tied in the Ton back row; enabling half backs Iestyn Jones and Josh Austin to whisk the ball quickly across the back line where good positioning by number eight Jamie Lewis straightened up the line and ensured any further covering tackles would be used up, before the ball was again put quickly through the remaining three-quarters hands allowing wing Rhys Balmont to race over in the corner. The subsequent conversion narrowly missed by Josh Austin. With the score now 3-5 time then for Llantwit to consolidate by taking the kick off and start making their way back up the pitch, but sadly no; the kick off catch was spilled forward and for reasons only known to him, veteran flanker Mathew Young then fielded the ball in an offside position. Tonyrefail from moments before being under increasing pressure converted the penalty kick and were now 6-5 back in the lead. As the game headed towards the break Ton again reverted to throwing everything at Llantwit as in the first period and in replication they again came away with another penalty the half time score 9-5.
The feeling as the second half kicked off was that if Llantwit could get a foot hold in the game then they were too powerful in the scrum, stronger in the line-out and had far more pace out wide for them not to take advantage of the wind and run out victors. But it was not to be as time and time again greater advantages in territory and possession was wasted as they were sent retreating from penalty decisions or far too often were turned over in mauls and rucks where the Ton open side had a fine performance in reading the game and interpreting the referees decisions far more adequately than his opponents.
Llantwit it would be fair to say had several opportunities to score after good drives and plays left opportunities with mis-matches but far too often did not support the player closely enough or when not trying over complicated passes not suited to the conditions were kicking position aimlessly away. The conditions didn't help as the ground was quickly becoming a bog and Llantwit's quick runners were finding it harder and harder to make any ground. Also to their credit Ton put in a big defence effort to stop any plays developing limiting the visitors to a three point penalty kicked by Iestyn Jones to take the score to 9-8. With the clock ticking down to the final whistle Llantwit mustered a couple of attacks but it was not to be as Ton held out. There was then bizarrely some after match action as the players were requested for one more effort in pushing long time servant of the club John ‘Big Hands’ Davies car out of the mud!
A disappointing result for the Llantonians as the performance was not in anyway a result of a lack of desire or effort but merely a result of poor execution. The players will no doubt then be eager to put things right next week, when they are back at home as they take on the bottom club in the league St Albans at the Recreation Ground, kick off is at 2:30pm.