The Blood and Blacks kept their unbeaten tag with another hard-fought 15–13 win at the Recreation Ground against visitors Tonyrefail.
Two tries from wing Rory Budina and a penalty and conversion from the boot of Loz Howley were enough to sneak a win against an impressive and resilient opponent. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season Llantwit won comfortably, but this was a different Tonyrefail side.
They took no time in showing their wares with plenty of early hits and some fast-running loose forwards. With Llantwit scrambling all over the park in defence it was no surprise that the visitors were first over the whitewash, their try coming after a long period of possession finally saw them gain an overlap and with some nice handing they went over in the corner at the School End. The conversion sailed just wide.
Llantwit were then dealt a heavy blow with their talisman in player/coach Stu Edbrooke leaving the field with a concussion. Tonyrefail maintained their dominance throughout the remainder of the first half with Llantwit virtually penned in their own half.
Although they didn’t muster much attacking flair, they more than made up for it in a solid defensive performance which limited the visitors to the solitary try despite the lion’s share of possession. And before the break, Llantwit clawed back some vital points with a penalty kick by Howley. The half time score was 3–5.
Some strong words must have been said in the Llantwit huddle during the break as they started the second half in furious style with some good periods of possession which led to a lovely set of phases culminating with No 8 Jamie Lewis giving a lovely pass out of the tackle to wing Rory Budina, who sped over in the corner. Howley converted from near the touchline for Llantwit to lead for the first time at 10–5.
But the visitors soon came storming back and after what seemed an eternity of possession in the Llantwit 22, the solid Llantwit defensive wall, finally crumbled with the Tonyrefail tight forwards rumbling over. The conversion though was just a tad too wide for their kicker and the scoreline remained deadlocked at 10–10.
With the game fast heading into the last quarter it was no place for the faint hearted as both teams hammered into each other in search of the points to pinch this enthralling game. They went at it to and fro, time and time again, much to the dismay of both sets of nervous supporters.
The deadlock was finally broken by Llantwit conceding a scrummage penalty in kicking range, which Tonyrefail slotted over for a three-point window.
Llantwit though were not done yet and used their driving maul to great effect and thought they had got their just rewards when once such endeavour allowed the backs to spread the ball wide to wing Evan Holloway to cross in the corner. But the Llantwit linesman very honestly judged that he had a foot in touch and over-ruled the match official.
Dismayed as they were, Llantwit with great character immediately went back to task and this time they weren’t to be denied as they spread it to the opposite wing and Budina went over in the corner. Howley couldn’t add the conversion so it was 15–13 with just minutes left on the clock. Tonyrefail came mighty close but the Blood and Blacks just had enough left in their arsenal to see it out.
Another narrow win then for the league leaders and there will be a lot of work going on this week on the training paddock as by their own self appraisal, the team feel they are not firing on all cylinders at the moment, but what they can take from this game is a great display of guts and determination to battle back and take the spoils.
Man of the match was our grandad prop Tony Burrows who, at the soon to be ripe age of 50, had to once again don his ageing boots for the cause. Further mention going to tight forwards Dan Baden and Jamie Lewis who had powerful performances.
And one last commendation to our linesman and vice-chairman David ’Wes’ Liscombe who now has the tongue in cheek label of being the only honest linesman in community rugby.
Well done Mr Liscomb. There is only one way to win and that is by fair means not foul.
This week the Llantonians have yet another tough task ahead of them as they take the always daunting trip to the heart of the Rhondda Valley to face Wattstown, who are in a rich vein of form and will have the target of being the first to topple the league leaders. Kick off is at 2:30pm.