ONE EAST CENTRAL Sep 27 2016
LLANHARAN 10 DOWLAIS 14 (HT 3-0)
Dowlais maintained their unbeaten record by clawing their way back from a 10-0 deficit to steal victory.
It was tense game littered by no fewer than five yellow cards, leaving each side with thirteen on the field at various stages.
Our coach Jeff Pick was disappointed with the result after we had withstood a strong forward assault for much of the first half and appeared to be well on top as the last quarter dawned with a two score lead.
However, fortunes turned on a hotly challenged try decision by referee Thomas Davies.
Under considerable pressure from the Dairymen’s vibrant attacking play, Dowlais eventually got possession and booted a mighty punt some 70 metres downfield.
It appeared that full back Lewis Williams had slid over the line to minor the ball but to the home crowd’s astonishment Dowlais wing Jake Howard then threw himself on the ball and saw the Blackwood official award the try. Lloyd Hynes added a good conversion and the Merthyr side were back in it at 10-7.
Their crucial winner also owed much to Mr Davies’s interpretation, yellow carding Joel Ringer for a front row offence.
The weakened Llanharan pack could not withstand the pressure as Dowlais threw everything into a corner scrum and Lewis Ayling got the touch down for a winning lead.
It was, however, a brief period of ascendancy for the Merthyr side as Llanharan launched attack after attack only for cutting midfield runs to falter on a poor final pass out wide.
Even after a yellow card for Lewis Williams, the Black and Blues pressed strongly, one surging run through the middle by Stuart Griffiths deserving a better outcome.
The final whistle prompted huge celebrations, suggesting once again that the Llanharan scalp is a huge motivation for some clubs in the division.
Dowlais clearly had a major strength in their forwards, a hefty pack putting us under a lot of first half pressure which, to their credit, we resisted well to hang on to the lead that Williams’ early penalty had given them.
But the second half was a different story as the sharp attacking play, albeit sometimes unnecessarily elaborate, gave Llan the advantage.
We were rewarded with a try in the 48th minute. It was not, though, until after a hasty whistle robbed skipper Huw Thomas a touchdown as the Dowlais scum was instantly penalised with no advantage played, with the added sanction of a yellow card.
Even a penalty try could have been justified as it was the visitors’ third consecutive scrum offence.
But Llanharan then moved the ball out left against depleted ranks and Ross Pritchard celebrated a return to home colours with a full stretch score in the corner, Williams converting well.
A third win in four seemed on the cards – until that controversial Dowlais try brought visitors a change of fortune.
15. LEWIS WILLIAMS 14. ROSS PRITCHARD 13. CHRIS POOLE 12. GARETH DYER 11. STUART GRIFFITHS 10. LLOYD THOMAS 9. CRAIG BURTON (TOM LUCAS 55) 1. RHYS TAYLOR 2. GETHIN CASHMORE 3. JOEL RINGER (MATT PHILLIPS 70) 4. LEEMORRIS 5. KIERAN MARTIN 6. OWAIN HOWE (TOM BUCKLE 59) 7. MORGAN GRIFFITH 8. HUW THOMAS CAPT Unused Replacements: 16. SAM LLEWELYN 20. LIAM UNION
Llanharan try: Ross Pritchard; con: Lewis Williams; pen: Lewis Williams .
Dowlais tries: Jake Howard, Lewis Ayling; cons: Lloyd Hynes 2.
Match Report by Hugh Smith. Photos by Richie Jenkins.