Narberth RFC | 1st Team 16 - 11 Maesteg Harlequins RFC | 1st Team
Geraint Evans
1 Penalty
Tadhg Mcguckin
1 Penalty
Alex Griffiths
1 Try

Match Report
07 April 2019 / Team News


Saturday April 6th 2019

Narberth 16 – 11 Maesteg Quins

WRU Championship

Three weeks short of the 71st anniversary of the Quins’ first and only other visit to Narberth, the then the newly reformed Quins undoubtedly were on a west Wales tour. Today, the journey to Pembrokeshire was to fight the threat of relegation against the perennial Championship runners-up. It would be tough.

In the face of a mountainous penalty count, Quins clung on to wrangle a losing bonus point out of the game. However, they could have snatched something more.

It was imperative the Quins maintained discipline. They didn’t and paid the price. Penalised three times in the first five minutes, the Otters played through multiple phases. Quins’ defence remained resolute. Eventually the hosts took the three points that were on offer with a Ianto Griffiths penalty.

Largely, Narberth were happy not to contest at the breakdown and rely on their defensive line. Despite Herculean efforts from the Quins carriers, this formation proved difficult to break and occasions carried too much. An occasional deft chip over the top into the wide-open spaces of the Lloyd Lewis ground could have wreaked havoc.

A scrum free-kick and the Quins maintained possession. Narberth drifted offside in midfield. Tadgh McGuckin levelled the scores.

Despite imposing a long period of pressure, there was no way through for the hosts. A speculative kick was gathered by Keiron Watkins. With a pacey burst, deft chip and regather, the home defence was breached. Watkins who didn’t put a foot wrong in attack or defence, sent Geraint Evans up the wing. Splitting the first tackle and rushing up the touchline, a fine covering tackle hauled Evans into touch.

Gratefully accepting the home overthrow, Quins pushed the ball to the other side of the field. Pocket battleship Alex Griffiths is in a rich vein of form. With a lot to do he broke several would be tackles in a congested twenty yards run. Stretching out to touchdown the ball just left his grasp.

Soon after, from a Quins scrum on the outskirts on the home twenty-five, Mike Owen broke blind. Releasing Jakob Williams who in turn sent Alex Griffiths on an action reply of his earlier run. Again, with lots to do, Griffiths fractured several tackles and spun out of a final effort to halt him and touched down in the corner.

Narberth then dominated. Firstly, they went through tens of phases without substantially breaching the Quins line. Two close quarter line-outs were repelled and at this point Tadgh McGuckin was yellowed. A head cut also prevented the increasingly influential out-half from returning to the field. This had a huge bearing on the game.

A ruck penalty allowed Griffiths to reduce the deficit.

A home charge was halted in emphatic fashion. The noise of impact stirred the crowd into collective groans and winces. There wasn’t a murmur of disapproval from the home team, but the derisory decision to award a high-tackle penalty gave Narberth the impetus to take a quick tap, gain another penalty and the lead with a third Griffiths goal.

Small margins were getting smaller. Quins’ ability to take opportunities was patchier than a geography teacher’s jumper. It became a half packed with defensive attrition.

An early opportunity to pressurise the hosts after a high tackle penalty was lost when the kick didn’t find touch. Soon after an elaborate through the legs pass was snapped up by the grateful Otters on half-way. With the entire home back-line aligned and ready to run, each pass and supporting run was executed perfectly. For once the Quins defence was left threadbare and right-wing Yannic Parker appeared on the opposite flank to romp home. Griffiths converted.

Not a great deal went the Quins way, but bravely they got on with their task and battled on up the Lloyd Lewis ground’s slope. Still they needed a two-scores to win the match.

It was a tough day to be a front-five forward. The scrummage was a tough, energy sapping contest. The Quins front-five acquitted themselves magnificently. Their combined commitment to work and keep working was a pleasure to watch. Carrying after all this set-piece and defensive exertion didn’t appear a problem. Rhodri Bwye again made a few big breaks.

Steve Williams maintained his ‘Captain Fantastic’ sobriquet. Joining Healy and Tutt, the triumvirate took their tackling duties to a whole new level of sadomasochism. Second row partner Nathan Smith maintained his high level of performance showing athletiicism in the tight and loose.

Mike Owen improved on the previous weeks carrying statistics, resembling a human pinyata with multiple tackles honing in on him.

A Quins attack was halted by a deliberate knock-on. The kick was put into touch deep inside the Narberth twenty-five. The set-piece was lost and to make matters worse, so was the own throw line-out on the ten yards line and a penalty for mouthing-off placed the hosts close to the Quins try-line without effort.

Another superb rear-guard action kept the Otters at bay, but the Quins could make matches easier for themselves with more accuracy and discipline. Yet this still wasn’t the end for the coal black and blood reds.

Time ticked into the final ten minutes. Wanting something to show for their efforts Quins’ thoughts were turning to a losing bonus point. Gaining a forty yards penalty, up stepped Geraint Evans. The three-quarter hasn’t kicked at goal all season, but showing nerves of steel, his left boot was true and sent the ball between the posts.

Jakob Williams undoubtedly played his best game in a Quins shirt. His box and clearance kicks were top drawer. He kept a lively opponent penned in and created a number of opportunities when showing patience and waiting for spaces to appear.

Two more visiting try-scoring chances were created but lost. The first saw a long pass float forward. The second, more potent opportunity, saw a slight over-run and a forward transfer halt Jack Picton in full flight and space in front of him.

The losing bonus point seemed a paltry reward for such a supreme effort, but building week on week over the last three fixtures, this was the best performance.

Quins’ magnificent effort and heroic rear-guards must be complimented by attacking and pressure building potency. Inaccuracy and ill-discipline are luxuries that can no longer be afforded. Five matches remain and the task of staying in the Championship must not be compromised by these destructive imposters.

Next Saturday comes another long journey west to Newcastle Emlyn. The hosts require three wins from their final trio of matches and will be in no mood to surrender their Championship status. Both teams have to win and it promises to be another irresistible clash.


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