Trebanos 25 Kidwelly 18

Thursday 18th May 2017

WRU Championship Playoff (First Leg)

'Banos Take Slight Advantage Into Second Leg

(Photos by Martin Dew and Ian Griffiths)

This first leg of the play off for promotion to the WRU Championship was, for the second successive game, played in front of the largest crowd at the Park this season.  Trebanos welcomed Kidwelly, who had won Division 1 West several weeks ago with a similar playing record to that of the hosts, so both sets of supporters were looking forward to an exciting match.

Kidwelly kicked off and were playing up the valley on a clear spring evening with no breeze to help either team.  The ball was taken by Captain "Twm", who charged forward to set up a ruck, but didn't get too far due to the good chase of the visitors, but the ball was laid back  and scrum half Shaun Lewis whipped it back to partner Kristian Jones who put the ball into touch just past the halfway line.  The visitors then moved swift lineout ball and showed why they had won their division so decisively, with slick handling from the three-quarters which saw them back on the home 22 mtr line.  Trebanos were showing signs of early nervousness, with uncharacteristic and unforced errors creeping into their game.  With Kidwelly ever eager to take advantage of the slightest mistake, the large crowd was treated to a burst down the left by Liam Jones, who with just a slight gap, took advantage and went around his man, and as he was about to get away from the cover he was well tackled into touch, with all the 'Banosians both on and off the field, breathing a huge sigh of relief.  The relief was however short lived as the visitors made a mess of the home side's lineout and were allowed to play on by referee Mr Simon Mills and instead of having a penalty to relieve the pressure, the home defence was again cut by another clean break, the ball being slipped to centre Curtis Ford, who despite a brave tackle by full back Luke Griffiths, forced his way over for Robin Davies to add the conversion 0-7 after just six minutes play.

Trebanos were now trying to match their visitors' tempo, not something seen these past seasons as it has always been the 'Banos way to play at a faster pace than their opponents, but tonight they were finding themselves coming off second best to the slick West Walians.  The side had yet to settle to the pace of the game and were making little errors which were preventing any sort of momentum being established and things were about to get worse as Mr Mills penalised Trebanos for hands in the ruck and up stepped Robin Davies to knock over the goal in the fourteenth minute to extend the lead to 0-10.

Two minutes later with 'Banos running the ball, a pass went to ground on the halfway line and was snapped up by Kidwelly centre Andy Francis, who galloped the 50mtr to the try line to cross wide out, the conversion attempt failing, to give the visitors a lead of 0-15.

Trebanos were always aware that this would be one of their most difficult games of the season, but not even the most pessimistic of followers could have thought that the team would be 15 points down after only 16 minutes play.  It was time for the players to once again pull tighter and stand together as they have done all season and they started their fight back.  The forwards tightened up their game and started rolling a couple of line outs, and it paid dividends, with the visitors forced to infringe, and were penalised by Mr Mills.  Trebanos continued to gain more possession and after a couple of phases were starting to build momentum, when the visitors were penalised for killing the ball on nineteen minutes, Luke Griffiths coolly slotted over the goal to reduce the visitors' lead 3-15.

Lloyd Phillips TryThe game was now far more even with the home side having got over their opening nervousness, with both sides trying to run the ball and only stern tackling denying either side the breakthrough.  After twenty six minutes play, 'Banos got the break; they won clean lineout ball on the halfway and it was moved from the top, through the half backs for Kris Jones to pass back inside to Dave Skone who cut through on a tremendous line, Dave drew the full back and passed to centre Steff Lewis, who then fed co-centre, Lloyd Phillips to cross wide out on the right, the conversion narrowly failed 8-15.

Play was held up on the thirty minute mark for Matthew Edwards to receive lengthy treatment following an aerial collision as both wingers tried to gather a high ball,  Matthew was unable to continue and was replaced by Sam Davies.  This lengthy delay had an unsettling effect on both sides and there was no further score when Mr Mills blew for half time after extra time, had been played.

Half Time: Trebanos 8 Kidwelly 15

It was imperative that 'Banos made a positive start to the second period and the feeling amongst the "faithful" was that Trebanos had to have the first score, and that's what happened.  Trebanos clicked into Rhod Williams Trygear and were much more their usual positive selves, playing a fast open type of rugby and putting their visitors under sustained pressure, moving the ball one way, then the other with Kidwelly not making the first up tackles as they had done in the opening half.  Play was on the visitors 22mtr line, with 'Banos sensing that the score they needed was near, moved the ball left, then back to midfield and only a good tackle prevented a score, but up popped No8 Rhod Williams to burst over near the posts, to give Luke Griffiths an easy conversion to level the scores 15-15.

Sam Davies TrySpectators then witnessed a titanic struggle between the two best sides below the Championship in West Wales, with the game being played between the 22mtr lines with Trebanos slowly taking control through their forwards and after twenty five minutes, Mr Mills penalised the visitors at the tackle and Luke Griffiths put over the penalty from 35mtrs to take the lead for the first time in the match 18-15.

Seven min later on a rare visit to just outside the home 22mtr line Mr Mills ruled that it was Trebanos who were this time guilty of infringing and up stepped Robin Davies to level the scores 18-18.

Undaunted Trebanos returned to the attack and were rewarded in the fortieth minute when after some six or seven phases of moving the visitors to the left and right, the move was stopped in midfield deep in the Kidwelly 22mtr area, the ball was snapped up by Sam Davies who romped between some tired defenders to give Luke Griffiths a conversion under the posts 25-18.  Mr Mills blew for full time shortly after and Trebanos held a slight advantage going to Parc Stephens for the second leg.

This, in my opinion, was one of the best games of rugby seen at the Park for some years with both sides committed to playing a fast open game, and it was a credit to Division 1 rugby in West Wales.

Full Time: Trebanos 25 Kidwelly 18

  Trebanos RFC
Luke Griffiths
Matthew Edwards
Lloyd Phillips
Steffan Lewis
Dave Skone
Kristian Jones
Shaun Lewis
Aled Humphries
Rhys Thomas (Capt.)
Alun Dew
Rhys Morgan
Richard Davies
Iwan Davies
Rhodri Williams
Ben Williams
Chris Foreshaw
Luke Turton
Declan Bale
Jack Perkins (repl. Ben Williams, 60 mins)
Nathan Jones (repl. Shaun Lewis, 55 mins)
Kieron Weightman
Sam Davies (repl. Matthew Edwards, 30 mins)
Referee: Mr. Simon Mills, Llanelli