The Blood and Blacks incredible eleven game unbeaten run in the league, came to an abrupt end in a 15-14 loss to to a much improved Llandaff on Saturday. A misty gloomy afternoon greeted the players as they kicked off at the picturesque Bishops Field.
Llantwit couldn’t have wished for a brighter start though as they dominated possession from the kick off and started making some good gains in territory with their phased play. And within in minutes had crossed for a well worked try as the three quarters given some room to move attacked well and spread the ball at speed to wing Evan Holloway to race over. Howley converting for a 7-0 lead.
It was then all Llandaff on the scoreboard for the rest of the half as the game plan from the home side worked well as they relied on ten man rugby for the most part. An impressive well drilled driving maul their go to tactic which made plenty of gains in territory and when Llantwit did halt it over-enthusiasm at the tackle area was punished time and time again. The penalty count rapidly rising into double figures with just the first quarter played out.
Llandaff soon crossed from a line out close to the Llantwit line as they first rumbled their maul forward and then one pass and they were in in the corner for an unconverted try.
With the penalty count against Llantwit now spiralling out of control it was no surprise that a yellow card reduced the pack to seven for a ruck infringement. Llandaff taking no time to steal the advantage as they crossed once again from a driving line out maul despite some frantic defending. The conversion again falling short to leave the half time score at 10-7.
Llantwit again couldn’t have had a better start right from the kick off wing Holloway put pressure on the receivers and forced a defending line out.
Llandaff missed their target jumpers and when the ball scrambled free at the tail it was open-side flanker Rhys David who was quickest to react and drove forward, the ball recycled from a ruck and second row Dan Bawden picked up and drove over like a rampaging bullock. Howley restoring the lead to Llantwit at 10-14 with another conversion.
Llantwit pushed on and had their best period of the game only for loose passes to go to ground or frustratingly for them to be penalised at crucial stages of good play.
So the now familiar trait awaited Llantwit’s loyal supporters of the team holding on for the final whistle as they went into the last quarter leading by a couple of points. And they appeared to be just doing that but with nine minutes to go they were again reduced to fourteen, this time for pulling the lines out down when Llandaff were in a promising position. Llandaff smelling victory pummelled the Llantwit line but their defence remarkably held strong as the minutes ticked down. And with a scrum awarded to them close to the visitors line you sensed they couldn’t hold them out much longer.
But Llantwit now back up the the full compliment of players took the scrum against the head only to then fail to clear the ball to touch. Llandaff not quite believing their luck and last chance offered them once again repeatedly pummelled the Llantwit try line and eventually despite some heroic defending they crossed to seal victory and take the crown of ending the league leaders unbeaten team.
So the first loss then and all good things eventually come to an end, what was frustrating in this game was it was so unnecessary with plenty of opportunities to seal the win. That though should take nothing away from the home side who were much improved from earlier in the season and took their opportunities clinically. Some supporters may point to the match official awarding an incredible number of penalties against the visitors being a contributing factor to the result, and yes it was very high and you could argue there didn’t seem to be much comparability with some of the decisions. But the post match deliberations from inside the team were focussing only on their own inability to adapt to the decisions and more importantly how they blew several chances away during the game.
Llantwit did though still pick up a losing bonus point which now takes them to fifty points at the top of the table with ten games to go. An unbeaten tag can sometimes be a heavy weight upon the shoulders of a team and Llantwit haven’t been in their own appraisal at their best of late so this could be the start of something fresh. The flip side to that coin is that other teams will now see there is an achievable opportunity to also topple the top team, and that will start in their very next game.
Not for a fortnight, as the Six Nations commences this week; but a right treat in store as we have a home floodlight game the following week on the evening of Friday the 7th of February against Treherbert. Kick off at 7:15pm. Treherbert are having a good run of success of late and will be keen to see if they can also take points from the Llantonians.
The Red Devil’s as they are known only pay one type of rugby and that’s hard and uncompromising. Llantwit will need to be back to their best, an intriguing contest awaits.
The Bro Radio News Team bring you the latest news on air, on your mobile and online 24/7. Email your stories, pictures and videos to email@example.com