02 January 2018 / Club News


Saturday, December, 30th, 2017.

Maesteg 9 – 24 Maesteg Quins

WRU Division 1 West Central


A new year brings prospects of hope, a new start, an opportunity to look forward and change. Yet the Quins faithful cannot not let their old acquaintance with 2017 be forgot and never brought to mind. In the last twelve months the coal black and blood reds achieved their highest ever league position, plus produced the best eighty minutes of rugby in the club’s history. Additionally, if they avoided defeat at Llynfi Road, it would mean the Quins incredibly would have gone an entire calendar year unbeaten.


Of course, Maesteg wanted to rain on Quins’ South Parade and take the polish off their local adversary’s New Year celebrations. The Old Parish had a plan, in fact they had two. The first was to whether a forecasted twenty minutes Quins storm, then they would blitz their visitors. The second was the old fashioned kill Quins momentum at all costs. However, the Quins’ persistent onslaught and superior organisation meant the original Old Parish plan partially worked, while the second was superseded by positivity.


This positivity was evident through the Quins’ early dominance of possession and territory. Yet it was nullified by Maesteg’s defiant tackling. It could only go on for so long and gradually a space opened up. When the ball found Jack Picton, the left-wing seemed reluctant to use all his pace, but he had scanned the field ahead, stood up the first would be tackler and beat the second with a dive over at the corner.


Maesteg were split open when right-wing Alex Griffiths received an inside pass from Owen Howe and burst through. Seven yards short of the line, a high tackle yielded a point-blank penalty. Conventional logic was defied at this early stage in return for a positive high stakes 'killer blow'. So this chance was spurned for a kick to touch. The projected line-out drive bore no fruit.


Points are precious. Opportunities rare, so when Owen Howe was asked to kick at goal from forty yards plus on two occasions, it seemed like muddled thinking in trying to build a lead. A lead the Quins lost when Tadgh McGuckin converted two of three shots at goal, giving Maesteg a single point advantage during their only real period of dominance. The Old Parish had certainly weathered the Quins early storm and had now gained a foothold.


Stung, the Quins moved up a gear; with Lewis Francis, Lewis Tutt and Scott Williams to the fore. Maesteg’s pack was a collection of large men, intended to nullify the Quins eight, particularly in the first twenty. Yet from the half hour mark onwards the host's set piece began to creak like a galleon in the doldrums.

Sending the Old Parish scrum into a rapid retreat, Ben Davies and Lewis Tutt worked in tandem to maraud, harass and relieve the hosts of possession in quick time. Maesteg were in disarray, allowing Aled Edwards to breach the defence and score. Rhodri Davies converted.


As always, Maesteg built up another carefully constructed, patient attack. For lying on the ball the Quins were penalised and McGuckin reduced the deficit by three points.

Near the end of the first period, neutrals bemoaned the poor quality of play from both teams. It wasn't for the want of trying by all players involved. A derby clash nobody wanted to lose, plus both teams had not played for a considerable time added for a disjointed affair. Yet the biggest problem was the number of penalties at the breakdown. Both sides were guilty, but it did appear as though the Quins were generally competing frenetically for the ball and trangressing, as opposed to Maesteg's deliberate efforts to kill quick possession.


From the start of the second half it quickly became clear the Quins had recognised how to prevent gifting Maesteg kicking opportunities at the breakdown. Alternatively, the Old Parish didnj't and conceded a stream of penalties for break-down offences with the constancy of Bank Holiday rain. There was more than a touch of sanction leniency, given the frequency of transgressions and Maesteg were more than happy to continue to chance their arm.


This was until Owen Howe stepped in to punish three rapid indiscretions and take the game away from Maesteg in a frenetic four minutes. Firstly, a home scrum was penalised and Howe bisected the posts from forty yards.

Then Maesteg’s clay pigeon shooting international Ben Husthwaite, flew out of the thrower long before the kicker had shouted 'pull' at the re-start. A scrum was exchanged for the free-kick and that was upgraded to a full penalty. A minute after his first success, Howe hoofed over from half-way.

Howe’s hat-trick of goals was completed when Maesteg’s breakdown indiscipline continued and a wide angled shot took the Quins over the twenty points mark.


It wasn’t just Howe’s goal shots that were making a difference. His kicking out of hand demoralised the Old Parish. The hosts would lose at least twenty yards of territory every time their touch-finders hit Howe’s hands.


There was a rare old tussle at hooker. Kieran Griffiths was the pick of Maesteg’s forwards, constantly charging the Quins defence. Jay Ronan was always a sturdy part of that bulwark and his own carries included a magnificent exhibition of hands, pace and creativity in a touchline dash manufactured by Lewis Francis, continued by Ronan junior and brother Dean.

However, the set piece proved the difference between the hookers, with the Quins’ number two proving more effective at scrum and line-out..


Replacements also proved a vital key in the Quins victory. Every one of them carried on the good work of the players who started the match. Ben Davies made a deft blindside dart and sent Alex Griffiths on a run, before a lull in the scoring.


Then came the predictable heated bout of fisticuffs. A number of cards shown, including a red to the Quins. Luckily there were already two Maesteg players temporarily sat in the stands for their breakdown rowdiness, but when they returned it was a wonderful Quins defensive effort. Diminutive Rhodri Davies didn’t shirk his responsibilities in this area.


Looking to run from deep, in his own twenty-five McGuckin was caught unawares by the human boulder that is Michael Owen. Howe punished the unsurprising breakdown indiscretion and the scoring was concluded.


It’s been a tremendous twelve months for the coal black and blood reds. Those lucky enough to witness it will drink a cup of timeless cheer for the sake of paying tribute to a fantastic, unbeaten 365 days. After the final fond farewells, backs were turned on 2017, the year drifted beyond the sunset for the last time, never to be seen again. Although gone forever, memories of this magnificent year for the club can never be erased. 

Now its time to look forward to the future and hope the club will be graced with an equal amount of good fortune in 2018 and beyond. The good news has already started with Mike Owen's dad recovering well and everybody at the club wishes him a full and speedy recovery.

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