By: Paul Hopkins
A spirited second half comeback wasn’t quite enough as the All Whites fell to a 29-34 defeat to Rygbi Gogledd Cymru at Stadium CSM.
Although Hugh Gustafson’s side will be buoyed to have picked up two bonus points on the road, they’ll be left to rue a poor first half where they trailed by 26 points at one stage.
The North Walian side were out of the blocks early with full back Sam Earl-Jones creating space out wide to split the Swansea defence, and send a scoring pass to impressive winger Dafydd Williams. Earl-Jones converted.
The visitors looked to respond immediately and centre Joe Thomas made a break down the wing, finding fellow centre Osian Knott in support, but the RGC defence remained firm, although they were unsuccessful in attempting to regather possession, knocking the ball forward in the process.
The RGC forwards were then penalised for bringing down a scrum and fly half Dan Edwards successfully kicked the three pointer.
A powerful scrum by the home pack earned a penalty and fly half Harri Ford opted to chip into the corner. Number eight Huw Taylor took the lineout and after a patient build up, Ford threw a long pass out wide for Dafydd Williams to grab his second try of the afternoon. Earl-Jones converted.
Swansea were again unable to handle the North Walian scrum, and this time Earl-Jones opted to kick for goal from half way. It proved the right decision, as he slotted his effort through the posts.
It was almost a third try for the home side when scrum half Ollie Wynn took a quick tap penalty and fed the pacy Dafydd Williams, but the Whites managed to defuse his chip ahead near the try line and were able to clear.
It was only a brief respite though as the RGC backs again stretched their legs and sent centre Harri Hughes racing clear to score. Earl-Jones’ conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts.
A high and dangerous tackle on full back Gareth O Rees by Sam Stoddard saw the winger red carded with no complaints.
Edwards chipped to the corner from the penalty with lock Lewis Jones collecting the lineout 10 metres from the line, though Edwards had the ball ripped out of his hands and RGC cleared long through Ford, whose clearance crept into touch inside the Swansea 22 to gain an attacking lineout for his side.
A wayward lineout brought an end to the attack though, and instead the visitors counterattacked through Matthew winger Jenkins, who sprinted down the wing, finding Rhodri Lewis in support. The scrum half created space as the backs combined to send Jenkins over for a try in the corner. Edwards missed the conversion.
Swansea gifted RGC a free kick at a scrum on their 22 and the home side opted for a set piece of their own. Flanker Ethan Fackrell chipped through at the corner, but the ball beat him into touch and Swansea were able to clear, albeit with a charged down kick.
A poor throw by hooker Owen Thomas at the lineout was taken by opposite number Jordon Liney, who dived over the line for the simplest of tries, which also brought up a bonus point. Earl-Jones converted.
Huw Taylor took a lineout just shy of the Swansea 22 and lock Matt Dodd was penalised for offside at the ruck, giving Ford the chance to kick deep inside the Swansea 22.
The lineout was again taken by Huw Taylor and strong work up front saw the number eight stretch over for a well-deserved try. Earl-Jones missed his conversion attempt.
Ill-discipline by Wynn, after his side had been awarded a penalty, prompted referee Gareth Newman to reverse his decision, but a dropped pass in midfield gave the home side a let off.
Owen Thomas used his strength to see off a couple of tackles as he powered over the 22 and prop Kian Hire was held up over the line. Play was brought back for a Whites penalty though and Edwards found touch a few metres from the line.
Lewis Jones took the lineout and a high tackle on Owen Thomas gave the visitors another penalty. Edwards again chipped into the corner and this time the Whites’ forwards stayed patient with Owen Thomas powering over for a try on the stroke of half time. Edwards converted.
Half-time:- RGC 1404 34-15 Swansea
Swansea enjoyed the best possible start to the second half when flanker Callum Bowden broke through a tackle and sent a pass out wide to Jenkins, who showed good strength to touch down at the corner. Edwards converted.
Owen Thomas charged through the middle after receiving a quick lineout, but a poor kick by Edwards sailed out on the full to gift RGC a lineout on half way.
Centre Delwyn Jones took a crash ball in midfield as RGC looked to attack again, but Ford’s pass sailed behind Earl-Jones ad Dafydd Williams, straight into touch.
The Whites used their man advantage in the backline to good effect with Gareth O Rees and winger Harri Houston exploiting gaps out wide, but the ball was lost forward at the crucial point.
With Swansea giving away yet another penalty at the scrum, referee Newman’s patience finally gave in, and he showed replacement prop Tom Sloane a yellow card.
A superb crossfield kick almost saw Earl-Jones race clear, but an outstanding tackle by Gareth O Rees prevented a certain try.
Earl-Jones was penalised for crossing in midfield and Edwards found touch on the RGC 22. The visitors looked to have created a three man overlap out wide, but the pass was poor and resulted in an offside penalty for the home side.
Delwyn Jones was penalised for entering a ruck offside and Edwards found touch on the 22 with the resulting penalty.
Replacement lock Lloyd Ashley took the lineout and Owen Thomas was held up a metre short, but the move broke down when an RGC defender managed to deflect the ball into touch, with the Swansea pack making a mess of the resulting lineout.
RGC weren’t able to get away from their own line though, as Delwyn Jones was caught in possession and got promptly turned over to give the All Whites a five metre attacking scrum.
Substitute scrum half Gareth J Rees got the ball out quickly and replacement flanker Lloyd Evans popped up to roll over the line for a try that brought his side back within a single score. Edwards converted.
A booming penalty touch finder by Ford gave RGC their first meaningful territory of the second half, but the lineout throw by replacement hooker Rhodri King was poor and Swansea were able to clear long through Edwards.
Ford found touch inside the Swansea 22 with a penalty and a clever link up between King and Huw Taylor almost resulted in a try, but the ball was lost forward a metre short of the line.
A superb penalty touch finder by Edwards gave Swansea an attacking opportunity inside injury time. Replacement centre Marcus Brown made a break, but popped up a pass into the grateful hands of flanker Dan Owen, and the home side were awarded a penalty soon after.
In the dying seconds prop Christian Hone was penalised for holding on after the tackle and Edwards found touch on the RGC 22, but the lineout was crucially lost forward, sparking the final whistle.
Next up for RGC 1404 is a trip to champions Llandovery, while Swansea host Aberavon.
Full-time:- RGC 1404 34-29 Swansea
Tries:- Dafydd Williams (2, 12), Harri Hughes (19), Jordon Liney (31), Huw Taylor (40)
Cons:- Sam Earl-Jones (3, 13, 32)
Pens:- Sam Earl-Jones (15)
Red cards:- Sam Stoddard (22)
Tries:- Matthew Jenkins (25, 42), Owen Thomas (40+8), Lloyd Evans (70)
Cons:- Dan Edwards (40+9, 43, 71)
Pens:- Dan Edwards (6)
Yellow cards:- Tom Sloane (55)
Venue:- Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay
Weather:- Light rain showers, 11C
Referee:- Gareth Newman
Man of the match:- Dafydd Williams
RGC 1404 team:
15 Sam Earl-Jones
14 Sam Stoodard
13 Harri Hughes
12 Delwyn Jones
11 Dafydd Williams
10 Harri Ford
9 Ollie Wynn (rep: Tom Ellis 73)
1 Christian Hone (rep: Jessie Williams 53-57)
2 Jordan Liney (rep: Rhodri King 57)
3 Pedr Jones (rep: Patrick Nelson 74)
4 Tal Taylor
5 Ilan Evans
6 Dan Owen ©
7 Ethan Fackrell (rep: Celt Ffransis-Roberts 75)
8 Huw Taylor
16 Rhodri King
17 Jessie Williams
18 Patrick Nelson
19 Emyr Jones
20 Celt Ffransis-Roberts
21 Tom Ellis
22 Rhys Hamilton
23 Caio Parry
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Matthew Jenkins
13 Joe Thomas
12 Osian Knott (rep: Marcus Brown 76)
11 Harri Houston (rep: Willis Wood 51)
10 Dan Edwards
9 Rhodri Lewis (rep: Gareth J Rees 51)
1 Dafydd Davies (rep: Tom Sloane 41)
2 Owen Thomas
3 Kian Hire (rep: Ed Thompson 71)
4 Lewis Jones (rep: Lloyd Ashley 51)
5 Matt Dodd
6 Ryan Jones (rep: Lloyd Evans 53)
7 Callum Bowden ©
8 Joe Greaves
16 Finn Thomas
17 Tom Sloane
18 Ed Thompson
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Lloyd Evans
21 Gareth J Rees
22 Marcus Brown
23 Willis Wood