With pent up frustration from recent match cancellations coupled with not being able to train of late, the U14 Tigers travelled enthusiastically to Llantrisant RFC this Sunday.
Like the visitors, Llantrisant are also struggling with numbers in this age group and having difficulties getting fixtures because of this, so the Tigers were delighted to provide opposition even with only 8 and 9 players respectively.
‘We’d have played with just 4’ were there thoughts of head coach Matt Dixon, so desperate were the boys on playing. The only thing that might have stopped the game was pitch condition. With one floodlight sporting its own moat, and some parts of the pitch resembling the muddiest scenes from the Sam Mendes epic 1917, it was relief to see an older age group playing while the Tigers warmed up.
With limited numbers, the coaches agreed to play 8 aside on half a pitch between the half way line and the posts at one end to make use of the best patches of grass. With flags moved to the half way line desperately trying to stay upright in a stiff breeze, the game kicked off and almost instantly became one to remember for the Tigers.
Perhaps it was the reserves of energy that had been stored with the lack of training, or perhaps it was the memory of the last game between the 2-teams that ended in a 19-draw, but whatever it was the Tigers came flying out of the blocks. From the first minute the visitors showed everything that the coaches had been working on during the season: close forward work, support play and communication were all evident as the Tigers set about their task. The 5-forwards and 3-backs produced an incredible display to storm into an early lead with tries from number 8, Jakub Jeziorski, prop, Flynn Barry and a brace from centre and captain, Kelyn Joseph.
One conversion was added by second row, surprise place kicker and eventual man of the match, Cameron Hegney, who put in a superb all round display. Apart from goal kicking!
Having been stunned by the incredible start by the visitors, the home team eventually secured some ball and fought their way back into the game scoring the next 2 tries. A comeback looked on the cards so it was important that the Tigers got the next score which they did with a break away try from usual full back, Dexter Milburn, just before the half time break.
Having found a formula that worked, the coaches advice at half time was for more of the same and following the restart that’s exactly what happened. With centre, Dylan Dimmick coming on as a planned half time replacement for Kelyn Joseph, the Tigers continued with the same direct running and strong defence as seen in the first half. With heavy, tiring conditions taking it’s toll on the home team, the Tigers took full advantage to extend their lead with another 6-tries including second half hat-tricks for both Jakub and Dexter. In an impressive display of kicking, Dylan Dimmick was also able to kick 5 conversions.
The home team did manage a consolation try and proved determined opponents, but the day on this occasion belonged to the Tigers. From the try scorers to the first class line-out throwing of Corey Cox, the drive and strength of Rob Dixon and the efficient distribution by scrum-half Tom Jones, this was a real team effort.
With the first win of the season under their belts, the players should be delighted that their efforts have finally bourn fruit. The coaches and supporters were all exceptionally proud of the attitude of the boys who against the odds were once again able to put on a great performance.
Nathan is the Operations Director and one half of Vale Breakfast on Bro Radio. You'll hear him reading local news, hosting at local events and presenting our facebook live videos.