By: Paul Hopkins
It was heartbreak for the All Whites after Steff Marshall slotted home a late penalty goal to clinch a hard fought victory for Carmarthen Quins.
In the opening exchanges winger Gareth Rees made a probing run for the Quins over half way and a clever chip through forced namesake full back Gareth Rees to take the ball over his own dead ball line.
Number eight Lewys Millin tried to peal of the resulting scrum, but he lost the ball forward, allowing Swansea to clear through the boot of fly half James Davies.
Lock Lee Taylor did well to take a lineout as the Quins mounted another attack but a Marshall chip through was charged down by J Rhys Williams, although the centre fumbled possession, giving the home side a let off.
Rees fumbled a Leon Randell clearance kick into touch inside his own half, gifting possession back to the Quins, but winger Morgan Griffiths was unable to take a pass under pressure.
A dummy throw by hooker Lewis Morgan gave Swansea an unexpected chance to attack and prop Alun Dew gathered a high James Davies kick, but support failed to arrive and Marshall kicked a penalty touch finder up to the Whites’ 22. Morgan was penalised for holding on after the tackle though.
Centre Hanno Dirksen almost broke through a tackle but could only offload the ball into the grateful hands of prop Steff Phillips. The visitors were back in possession, but winger Llien Morgan was unable to take a pass out wide.
Lock Matt Dodd charged upfield and a James Davies chip ahead was almost taken by Llien Morgan but the bounce evaded the winger’s grasp. Play was brought back for a penalty though, which James Davies slotted through the posts.
A superb offload out of the tackle by James Davies found winger Kian Abraham, but Dew was penalised for holding on after the tackle. Marshall found touch just shy of the 22, but a determined Whites defence forced the Quins backwards with Rees running out of ideas and chipping out on the full.
Scrum half Aron Hemmings took a high ball, but became isolated and held on after the tackle, but James Davies failed with his attempt at the posts.
Millin looked to charge through the middle but a poor kick ahead by Marshall sailed out of the full into touch.
James Davies was handed another opportunity at a three pointer when the Quins’ defence again strayed offside in midfield and he made no mistake this time to extend his side’s lead to six points.
In the dying seconds of the half Phillips made a mini break and the Swansea defence were penalised for killing the ball. Hemmings took a quick tap but an outstanding Whites defence earned a much needed turnover.
Half-time:- Carmarthen 0-6 Swansea
The home side looked to attack with purpose after the interval and Millin broke through a couple of tackles, but held onto the ball for too long, giving the Whites a chance to clear.
Griffiths ducked under a tackle and raced up to the 22 as the home side attacked with purpose, but Millin was held up over the line.
Flanker Edd Siggery leapt high to steal a Swansea lineout on half way and Marshall was successful with the afternoon’s first 50-22 touch finder. The visitors were then penalised for offside and Marshall chipped to the corner. From the lineout flanker Gethin Davies was driven over for a try. Marshall converted to take his side into the lead.
A superb chargedown by Dirksen took the Whites into the 22, but despite great handling by lock Jay Williams and flanker Callum Bowden, the visitors lost possession forward.
It looked as though the Quins would run away with the match after a powerful 40 metre unstoppable maul earned a penalty try with number eight Charlie Davies also yellow carded by referee Dewi Phillips.
But to their credit the All Whites hit back immediately when Dirksen charged down a kick and replacement winger Harri Houston raced up to within a metre of the line. The visitors recycled the ball quickly out wide for Houston to touch down in the corner. James Davies converted.
And the visitors were soon back in the lead thanks to a magnificent crossfield kick by James Davies that was expertly caught by Rees, who raced in to score at the corner. James Davies missed the conversion.
The Swansea pack was penalised at the scrum with Marshall finding touch in the corner. The Quins’ pack drove forward from the lineout with lock Lee Taylor claiming a try to restore his side’s lead. Marshall converted.
Houston was brought down inches from the line and a crossfield chip almost saw Abraham profit, but he was well tackled. Play was brought back for a penalty though, which James Davies kicked to tie the scores.
Randell did well to take a high ball and a quick tap penalty by centre Rhodri Davies took his side across the 22. Offside in midfield by the visitors saw Marshall kick his side ahead with two minutes of normal time remaining.
The Quins’ dominance at the scrum told as they were awarded a further penalty, which Marshall kicked to the corner. The home pack drove towards the line but were penalised for blocking. It mattered little though as Quins stole the lineout to celebrate a well-earned victory.
Full-time:- Carmarthen 24-21 Swansea
Tries:- Gethin Davies (52), Penalty Try (57), Lee Taylor (67)
Cons:- Steff Marshall (53, 68)
Pens:- Steff Marshall (78)
Tries:- Harri Houston (59), Gareth Rees (63)
Cons:- James Davies (60)
Pens:- James Davies (21, 40, 75)
Yellow cards:- Charlie Davies (57)
Venue:- The Park, Carmarthen
Weather:- Light cloud, 13C
Referee:- Dewi Phillips
Man of the match:- Lewys Millin
15 Leon Randell
14 Gareth Rees
13 Josh Davies
12 Josh Batcup (rep: Geraint Llewellyn 56)
11 Morgan Griffiths
10 Steff Marshall
9 Aron Hemmings (rep: Rhodri Davies 64)
1 Steff Phillips (rep: Tyla Murvai 70)
2 Lewis Morgan (rep: Ben Leung 53)
3 Connor Allen (rep: Torin Myhill 53)
4 Ryan Bean (rep: Richard Bloomfield 60)
5 Lee Taylor ©
6 Ed Siggery
7 Gethin Davies (rep: Nic Cudd 76)
8 Lewys Millin
16 Tyla Murvai
17 Torin Myhill
18 Ben Leung
19 Richard Bloomfield
20 Lawrence Reynolds
21 Nic Cudd
22 Rhodri Davies
23 Geraint Llewellyn
15 Gareth Rees
14 Llien Morgan
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 J Rhys Williams (rep: Iestyn Hopkins 47)
11 Kian Abraham (rep: Harri Houston 47)
10 James Davies
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Chris Morgans 64)
1 Tom Northey (rep: Tom Sloane 57)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Aneurin James 57)
3 Alun Dew
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jay Williams ©
6 Leon McNally (rep: Benji Williams 49)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Charlie Davies (rep: Owen Morgan 68)
16 Aneurin James
17 Tom Sloane
18 Kaid O’Neill
19 Owen Morgan
20 Benji Williams
21 Chris Morgans
22 Iestyn Hopkins
23 Harri Houston