Tenby United (7) 17 Llanelli Wanderers 9 (21)
On a brisk January afternoon in front of a sparse crowd Tenby United took to the field against a Llanelli Wanderers side that were obviously looking for league points to bolster their lowly position in the league as well as attempting to address their run of 6 defeats having not won since October 27th gaining only one league victory since the mid October date when they won against Tenby.
With veteran scrum half Will Crockford starting at scrum half, having taken till about Wednesday to recover from his outing at Gowerton last week, the side welcomed back skipper Luke Dedman and had eight changes from the loss at Gowerton with the coaches hoping that a good week in the gym and on the training paddock would be reflected in the performance as the young team got to grips with Division 1 league rugby.
Kicking off FBM sponsored Tenby United went straight on the attack forcing the visitors to forfeit the ball with skipper Luke Dedman, Rob Luly Ash Murdoch and Jack Tucker all prominent in an early attack, forcing a penalty which Lloyd Thomas stroked into touch just short of the visitors 22. The catch and drive, which also involved support from some of the Tenby backs, with Yannic Parker, Tom Barrass, Roy Osborn, Dan Allen and Will Crockford joining forces as they drove close to the visitors line, but the Wanderers defence held and the attack was halted.
The early pressure was maintained however as the visitors simply could not get control of the ball as Tenby created a few scoring chances with unfortunately the final pass going to ground or a last ditch tackle being put in by a Wanderers defender and for all their efforts in the first fifteen or so minutes Tenby came away with nothing while the visitors, on a rare escape into the Tenby 22, managed a penalty by Rhydian Morgan and a 0-3 lead. This score should have been matched by Lloyd Thomas with a penalty award by referee Burford but Lloyd pulled his attempt wide of the sticks.
Undeterred by these two set backs Tenby maintained their attacking threat and a scoring chance, involving the backs, was nullified by a deliberate knock down of what potentially was a scoring pass and referee Burford surprisingly only dished out a yellow card to the offender, who left the field to sit on the naughty step for ten minutes. Against fourteen men Tenby stepped up the pressure and several attacking moves involving Will Crockford, Moritz Neumann, Tom Barrass, Roy Osborn, Lloyd Thomas, Yannic Parker, Jack Tucker, Jack Broadhurst and Harry Phillips stretched the visitors brave defence to the limit but the much needed score just failed to materialise and ironically in another isolated breakaway a Wanderers attack, while being held by a scrambling home defence from having their line crossed, ended with Rhydian Morgan scoring with a neat drop goal taking the scores out to 0-6.
Tenby must have been frustrated by the score as the visitors showed them what was needed when attacking and despite the odd attack involving Jack Broadhurst, Yannic Parker, props Ethan Morgan and Rob Luly along with Roy Osborn and Jack Tucker the Tenby frustration grew as the only thing they came away with was the loss of hooker Dan Allen who was replaced by Dom Booth. The penalty count against Tenby was on the increase, particularly at scrum time, and from one such award Rhydian Morgan completed the visitors scoring for the first half by slotting the ball between the sticks for a 0-9 lead.
However Tenby were not finished yet and with only minutes left of the first half they again went on the attack with Harry Phillips, Luke Dedman, Will Crockford, Dom Booth, Ethan Morgan, Roy Osborn, Tom Barrass, and Lloyd Thomas all involved ending with centre Moritz Neumann crossing the line for a great team try giving Tenby some reward for their all their first half efforts, and with Thomas converting, the half ended with a 7-9 sore line.
The half time team talk for Tenby must have been along the lines of keep the pressure up and the scores will come and with Llanelli Wanderers extending their lead virtually from the restart it was not the start the home side needed. A weak exit from the kick off ended with the visitors gaining a lineout close to the Tenby line and from the resulting catch and drive a thirteen man drive for the line ended with flanker Elgan Morgan crossing the whitewash for a converted try and a 7-14 lead. A penalty by Lloyd Thomas for an infringement right from the restart closed the gap to 10-14.
The coaching staff obviously thought it was time for some fresh legs and Ethan Morgan, Tom Barrass and Connor Ennis were replaced by Huw Evans, Rob Tuttle and young Joe Owen as Tenby stepped up the pace and a sweeping move, resulting from a solid scrum, ended with Yannic Parker crashing over for a converted try, putting Tenby for the first time in the match in the lead at 17-14. For one of the few times this season Tenby were in front in a match where they had maintained a high rate of possession and territory and they were now facing a torrid final quarter as the visitors increased their work rate in an attempt to regain the lead.
The Tenby efforts were countered as referee Burford continued to award penalties at scrum time and this trend was not helped by Tenby losing several lineout throws in dangerous and threatening area of the pitch. As the game progressed there was a strange series of kicks by both sides which ended with fullback Jack Tucker miraculously taking a chip through deep in the Tenby 22, and very close to the turf, thus preventing a move/score from developing. The visitors pressure however eventually yield a benefit, despite valiant defensive efforts of Joe Owen, Moritz Neumann, Jack Broadhurst, Roy Osborn, Rob Luly and Harry Phillips, as ignoring several kickable penalty opportunities, by going for the corner and the resulting lineout, another well executed catch and drive involving nearly all the visiting team was rewarded as prop Dyffan Watkins emerged with the ball, having been driven over the line. With Rhydian Morgan kicking the conversion the visitors sneaked back into the lead at 17-21 and time was running out for any additional scoring chances to be crafted.
Despite finishing the game on the attack a determined young Tenby outfit lost out in the end as the Wanderers defence dug deep and held out as with the encouraging shouts of support from the home supporters ringing around Heywood Lane the Tenby side were denied what would have been a deserved victory, in what had been the most encouraging performance for some time.
From thinking through the match it was probably not lost in the final minutes when try as they might the home side could just not penetrate the visitors defence, it was more at the start of the game when despite large periods of procession and being camped deep in the visitors 22 for the majority of the first fifteen minutes they failed to convert any of the scoring chances they created into points. This resulted in Llanelli Wanderers taking the half when some early scores by Tenby would have pressurised them into playing catch up rugby which usually gives rise to chances being missed, wrong options being taken and ball handling skills failing. That was not to be but the whole team can be proud of their gutsy performance and hope that the new found momentum can be carried on as they visit Llangennech this Saturday.
Scorers Tenby: Tries: Moritz Neumann, Yannic Parker. Conv Lloyd Tomas x 2, Pen Lloyd Thomas
Llanelli W Tries: Dyffan Williams, Elgan Morgan. Conv Rhydian Morgan x 1, Pens Rhydian Morgan x 2
Drop Goal Rhydian Morgan x 1
Tenby:- Jack Tucker Connor Ennis(Joe Owen) Moritz Neumann, Yannic Parker Ash Murdoch Lloyd Thomas,
Will Crockford, Ethan Morgan (Huw Evans), Dan Allen (Dom Booth), Rob Luly Luke Dedman
Tom Barrass (Robbie Tuttle), Jack Broadhurst, Roy Osborn Harry Phillips
Rep not used Will Swales,
Llanelli W: Lewis Jones Richard de Fillipo David Jenkins Dominic Sauro Daf Parkman Rhydian Morgan (capt)
Josh Weeds, Owen Jordan Callum Jenkins Dyffan Watkins Ben Williams Ben Phillips Steff Taffetsaufer
Sianco Morgan Elgan Morgan
Tom Samuel Nicky Harries Hywel Jenkins Ben Chiffi Sam Weeds