By Paul Hopkins
A last gasp drop goal from fly half Jac Wilson earned the All Whites a stunning victory over RGC 1404, clinching promotion to the Principality Premiership in the process.
In a match where the home forwards dominated and the North Walian backs were on top, Swansea trailed from six minutes until the tenth minute of added time, when Wilson’s boot secured a magnificent victory.
The All Whites threatened early on when Wilson made a break through the middle and chipped ahead, only for the chasing centre David Watts to lose possession over the try line.
The visitors responded almost straightaway as fly half James Lang turned on the pace from his own twenty-two, cutting through a bamboozled Swansea defence, before he handed a scoring pass to full back Afon Bagshaw. Lang converted.
The home side got lucky moments later when an unfortunate bounce wrong-footed the RGC defence and fell into the hands of full back Josh Flye. He fed hooker Paul John, who charged up to the line, before number eight Rory Gallagher picked up the ball to score. Flye missed the conversion.
The North Wales side hit back though when second row men Maredydd Francis and Sean Lonsdale made forays into Swansea territory, creating a platform for centre Tiaan Loots to touch down out wide. Lang missed the conversion.
Try number three for RGC came from a counterattack as Bagshaw raced clear on the wing and chipped ahead for Lang to race clear and score. Lang converted.
A flash of brilliance by winger Andrew Claypole saw him sprint past a number of defenders into the twenty-two, finding fellow wing Will Lewis in support, only for the visitors to steal the ball. The respite was only temporary though as they were driven back behind their own goal line.
From the scrum five a powerful drive by the All Whites’ pack forced the RGC front row upwards, leaving referee Wayne Davies no option but to award a penalty try. Flye converted.
The Whites were penalised for foul play at the lineout, but Lang missed his effort at goal.
Loots and Lonsdale threatened the Swansea defence with half breaks, and the home side were forced offside. RGC opted to change their goal kicker and scrum half Alex Schwarz made no mistake with his effort at the sticks.
The visitors scored a bonus point try when Bagshaw beat scrum half Rhodri Wells for pace on the wing to collect a chip ahead and touch down in the corner. Schwarz missed the conversion.
The RGC backs continued to run riot and it took a thumping tackle by prop Ryan Thomas to turn over possession and set the tone for an unlikely Whites comeback.
Half-time:- Swansea 12 RGC 1404 27
The home side responded early in the second half when the pack mauled their way to the line from a lineout with Gallagher claiming the try. Flye converted.
The Swansea forwards were then penalised for entering a ruck from the side as the visitors embarked on an unstoppable maul to the line. Schwarz kicked the penalty.
Swansea cut the gap to just eight points with a Flye penalty goal after the RGC pack were caught offside at the ruck.
Schwarz kicked another penalty goal though after the home side killed a dangerous attack.
A huge scrum by the All Whites close to the line earned them a second penalty try, which Flye converted to bring his side back to within a score.
The visitors looked to have sealed victory thanks to a 12 man maul to the line that resulted in a try for number eight Zygimantas Radzius. Schwarz took too long over the conversion and dragged it wide under pressure from the chasing Claypole.
Three minutes into injury time flanker Mike Sully picked up the ball from a ruck to race past a tired RGC defence to score. Flye converted to set up a grandstand finish.
With the clock ticking down, RGC failed to clear the ball as nerves kicked in and a dropped pass under no pressure gave Swansea a scrum close to the line.
In the game’s last play the Whites went through about 15 phases, with replacement flanker Jon Fox close to scoring. The RGC defence remained firm until Swansea got the ball out to Wilson, who dropped back in the pocket and kicked a dramatic drop goal to clinch victory.
Next up for Swansea is a trip to Bargoed, which could go some way to deciding the destiny of RGC’s promotion hopes. The North Walian side will face already relegated Llanharan at Parc Eirias in their next fixture.
Full time:- Swansea 39 RGC 1404 38
Tries:- Rory Gallagher (8, 48), Penalty try (33, 67), Mike Sully (80+3)
Cons:- Josh Flye (34, 49, 68, 80+4)
Pens:- Josh Flye (55)
DGs:- Jac Wilson (80+10)
RGC 1404 scorers:
Tries:- Afon Bagshaw (7, 40), Tiian Loots (18), James Lang (24), Zygimantas Radzius (73)
Cons:- James Lang (8, 25)
Pens:- Alex Schwarz (39, 52, 63)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Wayne Davies
Weather:- Sunny, 7C
Man of the match:- Rory Gallagher
15 Josh Flye
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Jedd Evans
12 David Watts (rep: Liam Popham 77)
11 Will Lewis
10 Jac Wilson
9 Rhodri Wells (rep: Matthew Aubrey 68)
1 Richard Murphy
2 Paul John (rep: Ricky Guest 15)
3 Ryan Thomas (rep: Mitchell Walsh 79)
4 Gavin Ronan
5 Tudor Hughes (rep: Jon Fox 7)
6 Jack Perkins
7 Mike Sully
8 Rory Gallagher
16 Mitchell Walsh
17 Ricky Guest
18 Jon Fox
19 Matthew Aubrey
20 Liam Popham
RGC 1404 team:
15 Afon Bagshaw
14 Sam Jones
13 Danny Cross
12 Tiaan Loots
11 Carwyn ap Myrddin (rep: Josh Leach 60)
10 James Lang (rep: Tom Hughes 46)
9 Alex Schwarz
1 Tom Hughes (rep: Joe Simpson 76)
2 Evan Yardley (rep: Rhys Williams 68)
3 Ian Williams
4 Maredydd Francis (c)
5 Sean Lonsdale
6 Kelvin Davies
7.Meilir Parry (rep: Huw Worthington 52)
8 Zygimantas Radzius
16 Rhys Williams
17 Joe Simpson
18 Huw Worthington
19 Josh Leach
20 Tom Hughes