The Old Works hosted the Old Parish for a WRU Plate first round encounter, in a match full of the unexpected. It was an absolute humdinger; magical in the manner both teams conjured up moments of unpredictability, skill and resolve to thrill every paying spectator.
In the early exchanges Lawrence Howley couldn’t replicate his fifty yards heroics of the previous week, when missing an early long-range penalty.
Both teams were throwing the ball about, but Maesteg were creating more space. This proved to be the case when, from a scrum deep in their twenty-five, against common convention they launched an attack.
Creating a magnificent movement, Maesteg’s three-quarters magically eluded the Quins defenders. Sam Griffiths sped along the touch-line before giving a one arm overhead pass inside. It seemed a handling error halted the move, but play went on and full-back Jon Phillips rounded off the wonderful eighty yards attack with a try. Howley converted.
Within minutes, poor Quins decision-making was punished. Maesteg kicked long and the Quins gathered. Isolating the ball carrier by passing infield, an attempted chip over the heads of the pursuing Old Parish players went awry and after some well-timed passing, Sam Griffiths was over the line.
By the width of a layer of whitewash, the Quins survived another eighty yards attack. A break sent the Quins surging towards the try-line, but a mid-field breakdown allowed Maesteg to hack through and chase. The pursuit of the ball ended when Lawrence Howley dived on the ball in-goal and the referee had three courses of action.
Maesteg’s faithful called for a penalty try, for what they considered an illegal intervention during the footrace. He could have awarded a try or deem the ball out of play. The referee chose the latter.
It might have gone unnoticed, but the momentum of the match changed on one tackle. Maesteg were rampant and as visiting hooker Kieron Mattocks charged at outstanding Quins skipper Steve Williams, the impact of the thunderous tackle was audible as well as visible, as the ball flew forward from the carriers grasp. From this moment, Maesteg were more restrained.
With the scrums and line-outs in deadlock, the match see-sawed. The Quins’ driving maul game brought them back into the match and with more composure, they could have reduced the arrears long before they did with the last movement of the first half.
A mirror image of an earlier passage of play, which was deemed to have gone into touch, the Quins kept the ball tight with some darting drives before spreading it wide. A long pass to Jack Picton on the left flank saw the wing coast over for a vital score.
Howley missed a regulation penalty early in the second period and it proved vital. Like wearing a new pair of shoes, the Quins wore out the stiffness and were increasingly comfortable in the execution of their game plan.
The perpetual motion of Jake Lewis, Steve Williams, Lewis Tutt and Andrew Healy played crucial parts in turning the tide of the match, but Geraint Watkins was playing with aplomb. His pinpoint passing and intrinsic ability to make good ball out of bad with his incredible strength, continuously got the Quins beyond the gain-line. This quintet were responsible for tenderising the Maesteg defence, before moving the ball across field. A series of rucks ended when Nathan Smith, who impressed throughout, barged over.
A remarkable Lloyd Bradley touch-line conversion levelled the scores and amid the raucous noise from a delighted home faithful, Maesteg were deflated at losing their once convincing lead? but not for long.
The Quins were five yards from the Maesteg line, but a series of consecutive penalties; some obvious, some less decipherable, gave Maesteg another kicking opportunity after a high tackle. Despite missing a second regulation kick a little earlier, Howley nailed this one.
Moments later, Lloyd Bradley levelled at 15-all when Maesteg too were guilty of a high tackle.
Maesteg re-gathered their composure and played the better end game. Going through phase after agonising phase, the pressure was on the Quins to halt Maesteg’s progress and not give away a kickable penalty. Despite a magnificently disciplined Quins rearguard action, the Old Parish created a drop goal opportunity that just passed the upright.
Crucially and somewhat surprisingly, the parity at the scrum came to an end. A massive Quins effort gained them a penalty on half-way. It would be the last play of the eighty minutes and Nathan Smith was given the task of converting from fifty yards. To guffaws of relief from the visitors, the kick didn’t reach its target.
Those hoots turned to howls of despair within minutes of extra time beginning, when the Quins created their first of three unexpected, magical moments to score an incredible nineteen unanswered points.
Knocking-on five yards from their try-line, Maesteg gave the Quins a close quarter attacking opportunity. The Maesteg scrum splintered as it rapidly retreated. The referee, while recognising an offence, allowed the remaining players from a once complete scrum to advance. Andrew Healy scored. Bradley converted to put the Quins into the lead for the first time.
Replacement centre Owen Richards’ strength was an asset in attack and defence. Eyeing the combative Richards instead of the ball, caused a Maesteg mid-field mishap. Lloyd Bradley quickly pounced on the ball, sprinted off, then belted the ball upfield. Alex Griffiths scorched earth to cause defensive mayhem, as the action resembled a pin-ball before possession was finally secured. Whipping the ball wide, Jack Picton grabbed his second try to extend the Quins lead to a dozen points.
Turning around for the final ten minutes, the Quins were acutely aware of Maesteg’s ability to conjure something out of nothing and from this point onwards they played their most controlled rugby to shut out the Old Parish.
With a final moment of individual brilliance, facing a wall of defenders Alex Griffiths expertly chipped and re-gathered the ball to score a superb try. Jack Picton converted.
Maesteg attempted to gain a consolation score, but the Quins were determined to be as a parsimonious as a percentage of Old Parish devotees, who were less than generous towards the Quins’ as a result f their municipal surroundings. The Quins shut them out just to prove you only get what you give.
15. Rhodri Thomas 14. Jack Picton (2T C) 13. Geraint Evans 12. Lee Bevan
11. Alex Griffiths (T) 10. Lloyd Bradley (2C PG) 9. Geraint Watkins
Ioan Williams 2. Gavin Burridge 3. Dean Ronan 4. Nathan Smith (T)
5. Scott Williams 6. Jake Lewis 8. Steven Williams (c) 7.Lewis Tutt
16. Jay Ronan for Gavin Burridge 17. Ryan Shearan for I. Williams
18. Aled Edwards for L. Bradley 19. Owen Richards for L. Bevan
20. Andrew Healy (T) for Sc. Williams
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