SWANSEA 24-25 RGC 1404
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By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea fell to a heartbreaking defeat against Rygbi Gogledd Cymru in a thrilling encounter at St Helen’s.
The visitors enjoyed a gale force wind at their backs during the first half and almost took advantage inside the opening minutes with a monster chip to touch by fly half Billy McBryde, but a mistake brought an end to the move.
RGC were back on the attack immediately and McBryde attempted a cheeky drop kick, but his effort drifted wide of the posts. Play was brought back for a penalty though, and the fly half made no mistake this time.
Then it was the All Whites’ turn to attack when centre Rhys Williams tried to run out of defence, but he was turned over in the tackle, although he was let off the hook as centre Tom Hughes fumbled possession forward inside the RGC twenty-two.
A much better scrum by the home front eight earned a penalty, which fly half James Davies chipped to the corner. The Whites’ pack orchestrated a maul, but were guilty of obstruction.
Hooker Owen Thomas took the ball at pace out wide as the home side looked to attack, but lock Bryn Jones scrambled Tom Williams’ chip through clear. A long touch finder by McBryde was dropped into touch by the covering full back Phil Jones.
Number eight Jordan Jones charged through the middle from a lineout and winger Harri Evans came to within a couple of metres of scoring the game’s first try, but was prevented from touching down by an outstanding last ditch Whites defence.
James Davies failed to find touch with a penalty so prop George Roberts was able to charge up to the twenty-two. A poor handling error by lock Robin Williams ended the move though.
A superb break through the middle by lock Jay Williams caught the RGC defence asleep and he found Rhys Williams in support, although the centre failed to offload and the visitors were able to regroup and force an error.
Winger Rhys Tudor was caught offside in front of a kick and scrum half Matthew Aubrey took a quick tap penalty. James Davies made a break and found Tom Williams on his shoulder, who juggled the ball before backing his pace to score. James Davies converted.
Rhys Williams took a crash ball to set up an attacking platform for the Whites, but the supporting Tom Williams became isolated in the tackle and gave away a penalty.
McBryde found touch inside the Swansea twenty-two and a penalty try was awarded when an unstoppable rolling maul by the North Walian pack was illegally collapsed by Owen Thomas, who also saw yellow.
Roberts was penalised for a push off the ball and James Davies kicked deep inside the twenty-two, but lock Matt Dodd lost the ball in contact.
In the dying moments of the half Jordan Jones collected a close range lineout and prop Jordan Scott charged towards the line, but was stopped a couple of metres short. RGC recycled play out wide, but Tudor dropped the ball with the try line at his mercy.
Half-time:- Swansea 7 RGC 1404 10
In the opening exchanges of the second half A superb pass by Phil Jones found James Davies, who sent winger Ben Cambriani sprinting towards the line. He was stopped in his tracks but the visitors were penalised for diving into a ruck from the side.
Then James Davies kicked to the corner and Dodd collected the lineout, before smuggling the ball to flanker Callum Bowden, who was mauled over for a try. James Davies missed the conversion.
RGC looked to attack again through Hughes and Scott and the home side gave away a penalty. McBryde kicked his side back ahead.
The home side regained the lead in spectacular fashion when Owen Thomas picked up a loose ball and put on the afterburners to weave in and out of a couple of tackles to score from 30 metres out. James Davies converted.
A superb chip to touch by replacement full back Josh Thomas penned RGC back inside their own twenty-two. After a routine lineout, McBryde wasn’t able to clear far so the home side soon gained possession back, but Josh Thomas lost the ball forward.
The Whites almost grabbed a fourth try when James Davies made a superb line break and found replacement Gareth Rees in support, but the centre was tap tackled metres from the line.
Swansea’s bonus point try came in fortuitous circumstances when a charged down kick rebounded off an RGC player to allow Cambriani in for a score in the corner. James Davies missed the conversion.
Centre Danny Cross superbly took a high ball as RGC embarked on a rare second half attack. Replacement winger Delwyn Jones raced upfield from a quick tap penalty and the pacey Hughes did the rest to bring his side back into contention. McBryde superbly converted into the wind from the corner.
Replacement hooker Matthew Moore was yellow carded for foul play with a minute of normal time left on the clock, but McBryde failed to find touch with the penalty.
However, Bryn Jones took a lineout inside the Swansea twenty-two with time running out and a powerful maul by the visitors’ pack was held up on the try line. RGC opted for a five metre scrum and Lennon raced around the back of the scrum to score in the corner, sparking huge celebrations.
Full-time:- Swansea 24 RGC 1404 25
Tries:- Tom Williams (24), Callum Bowden (44), Owen Thomas (53), Ben Cambriani (67)
Cons:- James Davies (25, 54)
Yellow cards:- Owen Thomas (31), Matthew Moore (79)
Tries:- Penalty try (31), Tom Hughes (75), Oscar Lennon (80+7)
Cons:- Billy McBryde (76)
Pens:- Billy McBryde (6, 48)
Venue:- St Helen’s
Weather:- Light rain showers, 7C
Man of the match:- Tom Hughes
15 Phil Jones (rep: Josh Thomas 51)
14 Ryan Griffiths
13 Tom Williams
12 Rhys Williams (rep: Gareth Rees 51)
11 Ben Cambriani
10 James Davies
9 Matthew Aubrey (rep: Chris Morgans 68)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Rhys Davies 60)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Matthew Moore 62)
3 Greg Cunniffe (rep: Alun Dew 59)
4 Matt Dodd (rep: Jack Andrews 77)
5 Jay Williams
6 Duane Eager (rep: Matthew Moore 36-40+3)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Jon Fox © (rep: Charlie Davies 18 (rep: Owen Thomas 80+1))
16 Matthew Moore
17 Rhys Davies
18 Alun Dew
19 Jack Andrews
20 Charlie Davies
21 Chris Morgans
22 Josh Thomas
23 Gareth Rees
RGC 1404 team:
15 Afon Bagshaw
14 Harri Evans
13 Tom Hughes ©
12 Danny Cross
11 Rhys Tudor (rep: Delwyn Jones 54)
10 Billy McBryde
9 Nicholas Butterworth (rep: Oscar Lennon 69)
1 Joe Simpson (rep: Jessie Williams 55)
2 George Roberts (rep: Rhodri King 72)
3 Jordan Scott (rep: Rhys Roberts 80+1)
4 Bryn Jones
5 Robin Williams (rep: Sam Williams 63)
6 Andrew Williams
7 Dan Owen
8 Jordan Jones
16 Rhodri King
17 Jessie Williams
18 Rhys Roberts
19 Sam Williams
20 Sean Baker
21 Oscar Lennon
22 Delwyn Jones
23 Sam Rogers