Seven Sisters RFC | 1st Team 14 - 18 Maesteg Harlequins RFC | 1st Team
Mathew Tidball
1 Try
Rhodri Davies
2 Penalty

Match Report
03 April 2018 / Team News

Seven Sisters 14 - 18 Maesteg Quins

Saturday, March, 31sy, 2018

Seven Sisters 14 – 18 Maesteg Quins

Division One West Central

Basement club Seven Sisters may be relegated but they are not going gently into the good night. Burning and raving Seven's talented, youthful squad raged at their demotion plight. They created absolute mayhem to produce a cliff edge encounter against a top placed Quins, looking to consolidate their position at the league’s summit.

It was hard to predict the nervy proceedings at the start. Quins claimed much of the possession and territory. A cracking break preceded a driving maul. Pick up and drives inched the Quins forwards but when the carrier was isolated, Seven pounced to claim a penalty on their line.

Initially Quins tried to produce a punishing continuity in their game as they attacked from deep. The desired fluidity was not forthcoming due to effete carrying and an uncharacteristic lack of support.

Variation was needed for when edged further back, the Quins persisted in running but from ever-deeper areas, giving Seven an impetus they would frenziedly feed off.

The Quins defence held firm too. When big tackles weren’t possible, even the most miniscule of defenders would get stuck in, even clinging one-handed on to attacking shirts like a human mooring rope. Stripping ball was also a particularly strong skill; Rhydian Jenkins, Francis, Burridge and Aled Edwards particularly proficient, ensuring the Dulais valley team only made half breaks.

Three consecutive line-outs went awry, relieving pressure on the hosts and heaping it onto the coal black and blood reds by the shovel load. Seven eventually ruptured the defensive line and attackers poured through like water at a dam breach, giving the carrier options. Choosing Kyle Davies the centre raced over. Full-back Elham converted.

The next act proved a moment of madness. A home penalty hit an upright and the ball bounced into Quins hands. Ignoring the simplest, most effective course of action - boot the ball into the adjoining pasture, the decision to run resulted in being pinned down five yards from the try-line.

In disarray, Quins still managed to hold Seven at bay, but play went back for a knock-on at the initial breakdown. Despite every effort, Kyle Davies crossed for his second try and Elham converted for a fourteen points lead.

Seven protected possession. When going into contact, at least one man held onto the carrier to add extra weight and protection. Whereas the Quins sought a looser, more fluid means of support play. Although the rewards were higher, maintaining a hold on the ball was more difficult. At the end of a torrid quarter Quins happily welcomed half-time.

The break facilitated the change in momentum Quins desired. They now had time to reassess tactics and when play resumed, use of Maes Dafydd’s incline. Many don't realise the quite dramatic difference between shunting uphill and down. The Quins scrum was now a much more savage animal.

In the formative minutes of the second period, Seven’s disengaging tactics at the line-out partially succeeded until penalised. Calling a scrum the first was illegally wheeled. The second and third collapsed, at which point the referee ran out of patience and under the posts for a penalty try.

Quins kicks were falling lamely into opposition hands. From one such kick turned pass, home winger Daniel Short produced a chip, chase and catch. He transferred to influential No. 8 Hapgood to storm onwards. Only a knock-on prevented greater potentcy.

Scrums were the bedrock of the Quins game and final result. Home hands had to be perfect and with every ounce of front five effort expended to deal with the tidal scrum surge, a steadily decreasing number of players had the enrgy to maintain the host's accuracy. A powerful drive gained a penalty and Rhodri Davies slotted it from forty. A try would now put the Quins in front.

Often this season the Quins have decisively struck when opponents have waned for even the slightest of pauses in their play. In this match it happened soon after the penalty, when came a moment of fluidity and high reward the Quins so sternly tried to create in the first period. Outstanding Nathan Smith took line-out possession on half-way. Driving through, his pass displayed a magician’s slight of hand. The telepathy between Smith and Tutt who appeared from nowhere, stunned defenders. Tutt implemented his sublime sevens expertise as he drew in defenders and released Matthew Tidball to perfection, allowing the flanker to hare in at the corner. The Quins now had the point advantage they needed to progress and more importantly - relax a bit.

Relax! Nobody could whether in the stand and most certainly not on the field. This was not a game for those whose tickers miss a beat. Caught at the breakdown near half-way, visiting discomfort was compounded by lippy lunacy. The obligatory ten yards retreat took the penalty within kicking range. A delighted home crowd smelled blood and sensed a seasonal first scalp.

A piercing ping on contact indicated a miss-kick. However, a greater lesson has to be the learned - quickly. Penalty protests will always fall on deaf ears. Another game, against another club, will produce a different result that will throw away a season’s worth of work. To ignore this would be devastating.

Scrum and slope combined to punish the hosts. A group gallop brought a penalty and Rhodri Davies put four points between the teams, so playing through the phases to get a match winning penalty or Sexton-esque miracle dropped goal would not be enough.

Seven Sisters' attitude was to continue with their mutliple phase tactics to get the match-winning five points. A further stint of Quins disciplined defensive grit held the hosts out. Play stayed on the Quins ten yards line as tackle after tackle halted the hosts in their tracks; until a knock-on, scrum and side-foot to touch ended the tough affair.

Seven have caused the Quins problems over the two league matches this season. Nevertheless, the coal black and blood reds tried to play. Although it wasn’t pretty, in the end Quins still found a way to win, showing great character to overturn a fourteen points deficit and away from home.


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