Fixture

Tondu RFC | 1st Team 8 - 24 Maesteg Harlequins RFC | 1st Team
Benjamin Andrew Davies
1 Try
Jay Ronan
1 Try
Michael Owen
1 Try
Rhodri Davies
3 Conversion
1 Penalty

Match Report
20 February 2018 / Team News

FULL TURN AGAINST WATERWHEELERS

Saturday, February, 17th, 2018.

Tondu 8 – 24 Maesteg Quins

Division One West Central

MY KINGDOM FOR A MATCH

It seems an age has passed since a game of club rugby was played. This had a bearing on events, but if you like your rugby compelling, vigorously contested  and decided by decisive moments – you would have loved this.

QUELLE SURPRISE? NON!

Much was made of comments made on Scrum V that the Quins would be ‘in for a surprise.’ They weren’t. Having been on the wrong end of results against Tondu, the Quins knew full-well they faced a thorough test against the Waterwheelers on their Pandy Park patch.

Also, teams containing the likes of skipper Paul Smithson, half-back partner Gareth Lindenburn and Josh Tatchell will always pose an attacking threat. Additionally, up front Tondu were glued together by Nathan Strong.

EARLY HOME PROMISE

Early on Tondu were in the ascendancy. From the first carry after kick-off, a box-kick drifted in the high crosswind straight into touch. Winning the line-out on the twenty-five, the hosts pounded the Quins. Getting to five yards out in a concerted forward effort, for fifteen phases carriers and those latched onto them hit a stonewall Quins defence.

Gaining a penalty the Waterwheelers kicked to touch to re-boot the attack, only for the line-out to be disrupted and the Quins gain a penalty.

QUID QUO PRO

The relieving kick missed touch, but the return found Lloyd Bradley, whose cut inside split the Tondu defence. Bradley booted the ball cross field to evade the defence and was flattened by a late tackle. Quins thought they too would turn the screw with a line-out. There was lots of good forward momentum from a cohesive driving maul and individuals, until a knock-on ended a promising passage of play. Tondu were penalised at the scrum and Rhodri Davies kicked the penalty.

Taking the re-start perfectly, the ball was recycled only for the carrier to reject a pass and take contact. Still, support should have arrived, it didn’t and Paul Smithson levelled the scores within a minute for holding on.

IMPASSE

Given the month between matches, elementary errors could be forgiven. A reactionary high tackle reduced the Quins to fourteen for ten minutes. Once more the Quins defence defiantly dealt with the Tondu tornado that followed. In a see-saw scrum contest, the Waterwheelers pressurised the visitors, but even when veteran try-machine Nathan Strong took advantage of this temporary dominance and crossed the line, he was turned to prevent a try.

Remarkably the Quins regained their scrum composure and won possession. Winning a penalty on half-way, the decision to tap and go was ill-thought. It was a tough game in which field position was king, especially after surviving a prolonged spell of defending. Nothing was gained and the match wasn’t going to be won on the half-way line, especially as cohesion was lacking.

This lack of cohesion was apparent in the next attack. Too many carriers were running from standing starts. Tondu pounced on this indecision to great effect and seemed the stronger of the two teams at this point.

Although the match had seemingly hit an impasse, the Quins had come out of the first forty relatively unscathed. Had they learned anything from the drawn first forty?

LESSONS LEARNED?

Throughout Tondu slowed, spoiled and disrupted. Nathan Smith and Rhydian Jenkins formed an sound line-out partnership and the hosts went too far in trying to blight this alliance, when they toppled Smith from a great height at a line-out and the hosts were reduced to fourteen.

FAULT FINDER

Michael Owen latched onto a pass at the perfect angle from thirty yards out. Like a ten-pin ball barrelling down an alley, he skittled over the first two tacklers, sat a third down, handed off a fourth on the Roman road to the try-line. Diving over to round off a superb score, as the colossus made impact with the ground, the British Geographical Survey recorded a minor earthquake that measured 4.2 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre approximately twenty miles from Swansea! Rhodri Davies converted.

Three scrums were played out five yards from the Tondu line. Quins didn’t vary their tactics on put-in. Tondu scrummaged strongly and were given a decision that could be reasonably argued the loose-head was angling in. It didn’t help when the Quins protested too much and gave away another two penalties, allowing the Waterwheelers to advance seventy yards without working for a single inch.

FOUR TRAPPED IN MINES

To make amends the Quins had replacement flanker Josh Mines. After winning the line-out Tondu went on the attack. In a spectacle that had to be seen to be believed, Mines rescued the situation by making four consecutive tackles before any other Quins player could join in.

The first halted the centre looking to give his forwards a target. Up and ready, the second pinned a darting Lindenburn. The solo back-row barrier returned to his feet, to remarkably meet the supporting Strong who took the pop pass head on and then, defying logic, with a lunging dive he halted a fourth attacker. This solitary display of defiance, fitness and will, meant Mines shafted the home attack, allowing the Quins to outnumber Tondu and steal possession at the fourth ruck to snuff out the threat.

A fantastic break should have seen the outside backs put away. Once again a month off the field of play caused indecision, when there should have been none. This meant the move broke down with a simple tackle.

CUT TO THE CHASE

Maintaining pressure the Quins kept advancing forward and Lee Ronan attempted a dropped goal. If Ronan was playing darts, he would have hit the skirting board. Yet his attempt was turned into a potent cross kick for his youngest sibling. Never-say-die Jay Ronan will chase any ball, any player, everywhere. It usually pays off for his team-mates and in this case, the best of all results occurred. Bouncing agonisingly between two Tondu defenders, the ball evaded their fingertips and travelled towards on-rushing Ronan who jump-gathered and hit the ground running to score. Rhodri Davies converted.

Unplanned? Yes. Making something out of nothing through perseverance? Certainly. Lucky? You make your own luck and through this perseverance, the game was taken away from Tondu.

AMAZING PACE

Within minutes Lewis Tutt continued a break with a magnificent run that showed pace, power and precision. Bursting through he left defenders in his wake. Hand-offs and barges put the Quins firmly on the front foot. From the sideline thoughts of ‘pass it… pass it’ were tangible. Luckily the man in possession possessed precision and deftness too. Tutt put Ben Davies away up the left wing. This is not to say it was a simple run in. Davies had fifty yards to go and showing amazing pace, he left the immediate defenders and covering defence for dead to score in the corner.

YOU NEED HANDS

A bonus point was on. A clear-cut break after some hard work was ruined when the pass out was nowhere near the intended recipient’s hands. Then a destructive driving maul just lacked the killer instinct when a few yards from the line, although there were strong calls for disruption on the fringes. A lack of patience followed against a defence in disarray. Attempting a knock-out punt, it may have been better to keep ball in hand to secure a fourth try. The cross-kick was yet another example of a month away from the field.

Nevertheless, this was a fine win against opponents who unsurprisingly pushed the Quins every inch of the way and even ended the scoring with a determined try of their own.

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