WAUNARLWYDD ........ 21 BRIDGEND ATHLETIC 34
IT WAS a pleasure to watch a game where two sides’ priority was to play attacking rugby in difficult conditions.
Waunarlwydd have shown they are an excellent attacking side this season scoring 117 points in four matches, but also possessing a suspect defence which has conceded 105 points. So, it proved in this encounter. The Athletic emerged from a 55 points match with 34 points in their favour, while conceding 21 and winning the try count by 5-3.
The Athletic front row of Matt Muir, Nathan Holman and Wayne Fooks benefitting from the added weight of lock Jamie Doherty drove the home side backwards at the set scrum causing Waunarlwydd to concede a third minute penalty which outside half Robin Davies goaled from 45 metres. Athletic flanker Ben Davies won turnover ball and released wing Mike Powell along the touchline. When he was halted scrum half Aled Thomas fed hooker Nathan Holman who with a deft pass put No 8 Sean Williams clear to step inside the full back for a well taken try. Davies conversion extended the Athletic lead to 10-0 after 10 minutes.
Waunarlwydd were trying to run from everywhere on the park, but excellent defence from the Athletic back row of Sean Williams and flankers Ben Davies and Tom Morgan and centres Tom Jenkins and Stuart Floyd-Ellis and young wing Tom James kept them out.
On the half-hour mark, good work at a ruck by lock Jonathon Stoker saw the ball reach outside half Davies who broke through, made 30 metres and a well-timed inside pass put speedy wing Michael Powell over for a 15-0 lead. Powell was proving a handful for the home side and a 50-metre run straight down the centre of the field resulted in a scrum to the Athletic 5 metres out, but they failed to capitalise conceding a needless penalty.
Scrum half Dan James replaced the injured Aled Thomas. Athletic MOM No 8 Sean Williams won a line out 30 metres out and fed James who burst clear and chipped the full back for the ball to cross the try line. Tom Morgan touched down, but James had been prevented from following his own kick by being tripped. The referee awarded a 7-point penalty try and yellow carded the defender responsible for the trip. Two minutes later Athletic full back Dan Howells was on hand to capitalise on a dropped pass by the home side and hacked ahead winning the race to touch down for the Athletics’ fourth and bonus point try to lead 27-0 at half-time.
Waunarlwydd came out strongly after the break and a yellow card for a technical offence by Athletic lock Stoker saw the home side capitalise with a close range try for prop Dan George converted by scrum half Lee Evans.
Strong ball carrying by Tom Morgan put Waunarlwydd on the backfoot and when the ball reached outside half Davies he jinked and dummied his way over for an individual try from 30 metres out. His conversion restored the 27-point Athletic margin.
The Athletic brought on their remaining substi- tutes Lee Murphy, Cameron Thomas, Sam Richards and Ben Cording. The home side did not give up and caused a few jitters as two tries in 5 minutes from scrum half Evans and No 8 Jacob Blackmore both converted by Evans saw Waunarlwydd reduce their deficit to 21-34.
However, the Athletic controlled the last 10 minutes to prevent any more scoring.
Team Manager Paul Hearne said: “This was a good win in difficult conditions and sets the team up for this Saturday’s home Welsh Plate 1st Round tie at the Morganstone Brewery Field against Bonymaen. The coaches have also identified areas they need the side to improve this week in training.”
Athletic man of the match Sean Williams scores