Llantwit Major Youth 15 Llanharan Youth 35
Saturday 14th October 2017 saw Llanharan Youth travel to Llantwit Major on a perfect day for rugby apart from one problem – no referee. At least, not at first, but with both teams out on the pitch more than adequately warmed up and ready to go, our official trotted out and at last he game kicked off.
After a very scrappy start from both teams, Llanharan started to produce some good rugby both in attack and defence against, initially at least, a very spirited Llantwit team. The blue and black youth started to shoot themselves in the foot a little, however, with some silly mistakes and some misguided attempts at trying to kick their way out of their own 22 against a pretty stiff breeze.
Eventually, Llanharan stopped kicking but that ended up with a home team try. A charge down led to a Llantwit scrum 5m out, from which an easy 10/12 move, put the centre in under the posts. The conversion made it 7-0 to Llantwit Major.
Straight from the kick-off, which didn’t travel the 10m, another similar move from the home team three-quarters put them over the try line for the second time, Llanharan, not for the first time this season, seeming very keen to give their opponents a head start. An unlucky slip on the conversion meant the score stayed at 12-0 to Llantwit, and heads were already starting to drop amongst the visitors.
They did exactly the right thing to regain confidence after conceding, however, turning the ball over and working their way back down into the Llantwit half. The Llanharan line-out was functioning much better today, and from the latest, a well-placed positional kick from Lloyd Gregory, put the home team deep into their own 22. The visitors’ line-out was also improving on opposition throw-ins, as they pressured the defensive line-out, forcing a sloppy tap back. After a subsequent penalty for offside which Llanharan chose to scrum, captain Will Osbourne picked up from the back, eluded one defender and ran literally over another to stretch out and touch down. The tidy conversion made it 12-7 to Llantwit but things were beginning to look up for the away team.
Unfortunately Llanharan then succumbed to the Welsh rugby disease of conceding straight after scoring. They pressured a Llantwit line-out again but the backs gave a soft penalty away for being within 10m. An easy kick made it 15-7 to the home team. This ended up being the half time score but, listening to the team talk out in the huddle in the middle of the field, it was obvious that Llanharan thought that they could win this game in the second half.
Straight from the restart, the visitors scored a superb try to show that the half-time talk was not just that. The kick was reclaimed and phased several times, and after a midfield bust, scrum half Marcus Chard whipped the ball away quickly. Outside half Leon Burton timed his pass perfectly to put replacement Morgan Parsons in under the posts. The simple conversion made it 15-14 and the tide had definitely turned.
Llanharan seemed in control now, playing heads-up rugby and varying their tactics well, with Lloyd Gregory (playing centre today) putting well-placed grubber kicks through one minute, and flanker Chris Osbourne taking the ball at pace close to the ruck the next. The visitors were now making metres every time they went into contact, and after full-back Calum Evans was bundled into touch 5m out, Llanharan disrupted the line-out, gained possession and lovely hands from virtually every back put winger Thomas Whittaker in at the corner. A beautiful conversion made it 21-15 to the visitors and they were now well on top.
Fabulous rugby from Llanharan right from the restart, letting the ball do the work and timing passes, put Lloyd away with only the fullback to beat. He did the right thing and ran at (Jonathan Davies’s famous) inside shoulder and passed to Chris Osbourne who just over-ran it and knocked on with the line at his mercy. Llanharan are still to develop the killer instinct, however, and started to give away a few silly penalties and knock-ons. Fortunately for them, Llantwit couldn’t capitalize, making some unforced errors themselves. Then, out of the blue, with Llanharan attacking just outside the home 22, number 10 Leon threw a wonderful dummy and went for the posts, under which he touched down for a relieving score. The easy conversion made it 28-15 to the visitors and they could relax a little.
A period of good rugby from the home team then gave a chance for Llanharan to show their defensive qualities which they certainly did, sending players back in virtually every tackle. This culminated in a real bone-cruncher from captain Will, showing perfect technique and timing, hitting the opposing player in the midriff and placing him firmly and nowhere near horizontally, on his back. The referee deemed it a tip tackle – some you win, some you lose!
Will got his revenge a few minutes later, however, when, after some lovely touchline to touchline rugby stretched the home defence, the captain drew the last defender to put winger Morgan Butts in for a well-deserved try. Lloyd Gregory’s fifth conversion made the final score 35-15 to Llanharan.
After a bad start, it was all Llanharan, with direct running from many of the forwards, some lovely take-and-give rugby from the backs contributing to an excellent display of heads-up rugby with contributions from virtually every player in the match-day squad.