Fixture

Felinfoel RFC | 1st Team 5 - 25 Maesteg Harlequins RFC | 1st Team
Owen Richards
1 Try
Nathan Smith
1 Try
Lewis Francis
1 Try
Lee David Ronan
1 Drop Goal
Owen Howe
2 Conversion
1 Penalty

Match Report
26 May 2018 / Team News

Felinfoel 6 - 25 Maesteg Quins

Friday, May, 25th, 2018

Felinfoel 6 – 25 Maesteg Quins

WRU National Championship Play-off Second Leg

Buoyed by a single point defeat at South Parade, with their all-round threats Felinfoel were rightly confident of securing a superior aggregate score, in the eighty minutes that would decide who would enter Welsh club rugby’s second tier.

A sizeable and partisan home crowd created a fun carnival atmosphere at the King George Fields. Starting with a procession through the streets of the Llanelli suburb from the Royal Oak, led by the Felinfoel Regimental Band [one member - one big base drum].

Enjoying a slight territorial advantage playing up the slope, Quins were awarded two long distance penalties. Owen Howe was tasked with pushing the slender aggregate scoreline further in the Quins favour, but both fifty yards efforts drifted wide.

Play then fluctuated between the halves for twenty minutes. It was the hosts who opened the scoring to overtake the Quins’ aggregate lead, when outside-half Aled Roberts converted a scrum penalty from forty yards.

On one of the few first half periods when the Quins maintained possession, Nathan Edwards made a break and the hosts were guilty of killing the ball at the ruck. The match scores were level and the Quins were leading on aggregate, but not for long.

Felinfoel decided to keep the ball and this resulted in a penalty that Roberts kicked to put the hosts ahead in the match score and on aggregate.

Lewis Francis coaxed a penalty at a ruck and Howe’s third attempt was off target. Reliable Roberts’ drop-out didn’t cross the line. His team-mates were slow to react, possibly in shock at the error produced by a player who rarely puts a foot wrong, Nathan Smith wasn’t as dumbfounded. Snapping up possession he blazed over the line. Sensing this was a definitive moment the celebrations on and off the field were as vociferous as they were ecstatic. Howe's conversion instigated more audble delight. The Quins now had a five points aggregate cushion.

Often this season the Quins have pounced on lulls in opposition play or concentration, to score consecutive tries. They did so again. A good driving maul sucked in home defenders. A series of carries proved pro-biotic in further breaking down the defence. Rhodri Davies took possession and precisely placed his cross-kick on a handkerchief. Owen Richards hared up the line, sniffing an opportunity to score. Despite the traffic, when the Quins flyer reached ground zero he threw himself at the ball to touchdown in the corner.

Over elaboration has been problematic for the Quins of late. The coal black and blood reds were not going to make the same mistake in this, the most important status confirming match in the club’s history.

The Maesteg men’s defence was back to its magnificent best. Additionally the phase play they served up at times in the second half was top drawer. Hard, direct running and multiple phases of play punished Felinfoel. Ben Davies kept the avalanche of continuity fluid with quick, accurate transfers. Nathan Edwards' angles were particularly punishing, especially in the latter stages and were the catalyst for the best periods of Quins multi-phase play. Mike Owen was also prominent.

The kicking out of hand was generally pinpoint accurate. Howe put massive, opponent deflating distance between the hosts and the Quins try-line. Rhodri Davies' ground gainers were tighter to the touchline, giving the potent Felinfoel back-three fewer options.

A perfectly placed Lee Ronan grubber forced ‘Foel's full-back Randell to run into touch. The driving maul proved unstoppable and Lewis Francis scored the Quins’ third try. Howe added from the tee.

Sixteen points separated Felinfoel from their Championship goal. One less than the number of unanswered points they rattled up in the first leg fixture. The home scrum was beginning to dominate every joining together of the rutting packs. It was imperative Felinfoel were shut-out and the Quins defence remained firm. With ten minutes left another superb exhibition of direct running and possession play took the Quins from their own half deep into the Felinfoel twenty-five. Lee Ronan's dropped goal looked ugly but did the job. To win the match Felinfoel now had to score three converted tries.

The remaining minutes were all Felinfoel. They crossed the line but a touchjudge intervention drew the referee's attention to an earlier knock-on. For the first time in over a year, Felinfoel were unable to touchdown at their home ground. Everyone in a Quins shirt put their shoulders to the defensive wheel.

Jay Ronan, Lewis Tutt and talismanic skipper Steve Williams' ability whether in attack or defence to turn up anywhere, in any situation at any time, made all three prime candidates to be cast as the next Doctor Who.

Turning over possession until the very end, full-time was met with deafening cheers - this time from the visiting crowd. The deepening darkness was illuminated by the Quins whose light has never shone brighter. Remarkably, next season the Quins will be taking on the likes of historical rugby powerhouses Pontypool and Newbridge as league equals.

Chairman Robert Williams commented; "This was yet another superb perfomance to round off the greatest season in Maesteg Harlequins' history. Every single player deserves nothing less than the reward of promotion to the upper reaches of the Welsh club rugby league structure. Everyone involved with the club both past and present have total respect for the achievements of this squad. Even more so with the amount of games they were forced to play at the latter end of the season.

"Next season really is something to look forward to. Never in my wildest dreams from the club's Junior Union past did I ever think our Maesteg Quins would be playing Pontypool and Newbridge as league equals.

He added; "Anyone wishing to play Championship level rugby on a purely amateur basis, are most welcome to come and enjoy the Quins' South Parade experience, but for the time being - it is time to celebrate a remarkable, phenomenal, success."

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