It was another tough encounter in WRU Division One East Central as Llanharan RFC hosted Mountain Ash RFC in the 6th Round of competitive league games. Following the humbling defeat to Llantrisant, the Dairymen sought to regroup after a positive display against Aberdare in the plate. This week would present a very different encounter, with the “Old Firm” seeking to avenge their loss to Llanharan from the last encounter between the two sides at back end of last season - a crucial victory Clearly fired up for the encounter, Mount started in ferocious fashion and competed at every opportunity in general open play, causing no end of grief for the home side scrum half Callum Palmer, enjoying his first start for the Black and Blue. Llanharan rose to the challenge and struck the first blow playing away from the Club house. Following some good forward phase play, generating quick ball, Palmer sent it out to Scott Jones at 10 who in turn shifted the ball wide through the hands to outside centre, Stuart Griffiths. After showing good vision, Griffiths drew his man to release winger Chris Poole who ran a great line in support to race clear and score the first try of the game that was subsequently converted well by Scott Jones. It wasn’t long before Mountain Ash came back into the game, going well with their forwards and bringing their inside centre back against the grain on crash balls. The pressure was rewarded with a penalty against Llanharan, only for the kick to be missed to give the home side reprieve. Despite the set back, The Old Firm continued to pressurise the Dairymen and found their first score through their inside centre following a 5 metre scrum – pouncing on loose ball to touch down. With the score at 7 – 7, the game was shaping up to be a close encounter with neither side willing to give an inch. With both sides committed to the cause, it was with no surprise that the game became heated in a sequence of ill discipline. Llanharan were first to fall foul of the referee with a yellow card awarded against flanker, Jack Thompson for preventing ball release at the ruck. A subsequent ruck resulted in off the ball scrapping that saw Mountain Ash equally punished with a man in the bin as tensions rose steadily. It all culminated in an ugly melee following the resumption of play that involved both packs getting involved. The man in the middle saw enough from the away side to award a straight red and a further yellow, reducing the Old Firm to 12 men. Once again, Llanharan failed to make the extra man count until just before half time with inspired thinking from Scott Jones following a turn over. Receiving the ball, he dispatched a fine cross field kick that bounced ever so kindly to winger, Morgan Williams who took the ball at speed and passed inside to centre, Stuart Griffiths who raced to the corner to score. Unfortunately the subsequent conversion was missed by Jones but at half time the score was 12-7 with all to play for. The second half saw Mount come out perhaps more determined than when they started, certainly getting the better of the opening 20 minutes. Playing down the slope and with only 14 men, they managed to put the Dairymen under sustained pressure. Keeping the ball tight up front, they were rewarded when their prop managed to force himself over out wide. A great strike from the boot saw the try converted and the lead shift in favour of the away side for the first time in the game. Despite loosing the lead, Llanharan rallied well with a dogged defence to put Mount under pressure mid way into their half. Attacking the club house, a penalty was awarded against the visitors for further infringement at the breakdown which allowed Scott Jones to seize the moment and the game, with a fine kick under pressure, giving the Black and Blue at 15-14 victory over a spirited Mountain Ash outfit. Speaking after the game, Llanharan coaches Jeff Pick, Kevin Jones and Clinton Davies shared similar views on the performance – happy to get back to winning ways and pleased with dogged determination and fight shown by the lads to get the victory. When asked who stood out from the Black and Blue, Kevin Jones was keen to mention a particularly good performance from tight head Gethin Cashmore, who followed up his TWO tries against Aberdare with a great showing in all aspects of play. Editors Note: Profound apologies go to fellow front rower Gethin Cashmore – Man of the Match this week and scorer of two fantastic tries the week before against Aberdare. The previous match report incorrectly stated that outside half, Scott Jones scored when in fact it was Cashmore. Rightly perturbed by this omission (to be fair, it’s not every day a front rower scores one let alone two). Credit to Cashmore for clarifying that he ran nearly 50 metres to score his second try - beating no less than 6 men on his way and carrying two on his back as he crossed the line. If anyone has any visual record of this fine display of attacking rugby, please get in touch so that it can be entered into the Clubs Archives under "Finest Front Row Tries".
(Full Time Score: 15-14 WRU Div 1 East Central, Round 6)