TONYREFAIL travelled to Moorlands Park for this second round match of the WRU Bowl to play Old Illtydians who currently sit in third position in East Central 3A, one division above them, in the league system.
Having made a good start to the season Ton were hoping to maintain their momentum in this game but player availability meant they were left in a position where they had people playing out of their normal positions and no recognised back row players in the pack.
Ton supporters would have been expecting the worst but to the credit of those who played, the performance did not truly reflect the result with the home side only breaking clear in the last 15 minutes as the visitors were forced to make changes to an already disrupted team.
The game began with Ton on the front foot but turnover ball gave the Illts the chance to put the ball into touch deep in the Ton half. They kept play there and with only four minutes on the clock they were over for a try which was converted from the touchline.
From the restart Ton put the home forwards under pressure and kept play in the home half and it became apparent that they had the edge in the scrums and when they were awarded the put in at a scrum on the home five metre line it looked like they were certain to score as the pack drove forward. Unfortunately for them the referee awarded a penalty against a Ton prop and the chance was gone but they were soon back on the attack, this time moving the ball quickly from a dominant scrum for wing Rhys Morris to touch down out wide to make the score 7-5.
Play continued with Ton having the better of the forward exchanges but the lack of back row experience meant that on a few occassions the home side were able to win possession from them in the tackle area and their backs were then quick to counter attack but some good defence meant their only further score came from a penalty to make the half-time score 10-5.
In the second half the home side seemed to move up a gear, probably because of the changes they made at the break, and they quickly increased their lead with another converted try but Ton responded well. They put pressure on the home defence to see the referee yellow card a home player for persistently killing the ball before setting up a 30m drive from a lineout which ended with a try for second row Matthew Farr to bring the score back to 17-10.
On the hour mark Ton were forced to make changes which meant they had four props and a wing playing in the pack and unfortunately for them the home side were quick to capitalise on it. Three further tries, which all came from deep positions, in a 10- minute period took the wind out of Ton’s sails and the game ended 36-10.
Ton may have lost the game but the performance was probably more important than the result in this case. Ton can now return to league rugby with more confidence in spite of the loss and build on the performance with players in their correct positions.
Next week Ton are away at Wattstown which will be a difficult game but not unsurmountable.