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League leaders put to the test by resilient Tenby XV

Tenby United (6) 6 Felinfoel (3) 24

Tenby United knew they were in for a hard time against a Felinfoel side that apart from being 16 points clear at the top of the league…….. had 3 players who had played at the Premiership level…..a few Championship players….the captain was ex Narberth…and virtually the entire back line were at one point Scarlet’s 18’s…but undaunted with the task they faced, FBM sponsored Tenby United kicked off with the wind in their favour at a very blustery Heywood Lane.

Under pressure from the start Tenby didn’t help their cause with a hurried clearance kick being charged down and the situation got worse when from the first scrum Tenby were shunted back and under severe pressure from the league leaders conceded a penalty, which was sent between the sticks by Aled Roberts taking Felinfoel into an early 0-3 lead, This unwanted early reverse spurred Tenby on and with a clearance going out on the full they exploited an opportunity from a penalty award by referee Boswell, following a high tackle on Moritz Neumann, with Lloyd Thomas matching Roberts effort by also bisecting the uprights and a 3-3 game.

The positive approach being adopted by Tenby, despite all the odds stacked against them, was refreshing and Thomas was again soon into action chipping over the onrushing defence for both centres Moritz Neumann and Shane Rossiter to continue the attack. Aided by the strengthening wind Thomas put in a huge clearing kick which was turned into a superb kick with Ashley Murdoch, chasing down the Felinfoel fullback, who fielded the ball forcing a sloppy kick into touch within the Felinfoel 22. A great catch and give off the top by Mike Davis at the lineout set up an attacking platform which was exploited with Charlie Patching (twice), Shane Rossiter, Ashley Murdoch and Dan Allen all involved ending with Felinfoel infringing with a second successful Lloyd Thomas penalty giving Tenby an , but deserved, 6-3 lead.

Maintaining their attacking theme it was centre Shane Rossiter next into action with a superb mid field break carried on by Dan Thomas who was just stopped short of the line with what appeared to be a no arms tackle by a desperate Felinfoel defender, but no penalty was awarded. The pressure was maintained with next Moritz Neumann, Huw Evans and Luke Dedman prominent before a knock on brought things to a halt. Anything the visitors managed to cobble together was either halted by some resilient and well organised Tenby defence or was halted by some self inflicted action with some sloppy ball handling and the ball going to ground on numerous occasions. That was a good news/bad news thing for Tenby as yes the move came to a halt but they were then forced to scrummage, a situation Tenby came a very poor second on all game – despite who’s put in it was!!

When and where necessary, Lloyd Thomas resorted to capitalising on the strong wind, and several times forced Felinfoel to retreat from one 22 to the other, with supporting players chasing every kick to prevent the visitors from initiating an attack from deep and aided by some unusual decisions by referee Boswell, the visitors also managed to keep Tenby at bay and unusual for them, they (Felinfoel) failed to add to their score as the half came to a close.

Accepting that playing against the strong breeze Tenby would need to adopt different tactics both in attack and defence the half started with Tenby, through the returning Jordon Asparassa, Tom Barrass and Jack Broadhurst combining to create an opportunity for Lloyd Thomas to put in a delicate chip over the Felinfoel three quarters allowing Moritz Neumann to gather and link with Barrass and Huw Evans, who in turn linked up with supporting players Luke Dedman, Mike Davis and Dan Thomas only for the move to be brought to a halt with the ball being held in the tackle. Tenby stepped up the pace and at the next breakdown scrum half Thomas was clearly taken out while waiting for the ball to emerge from the breakdown an oversight that was compounded with the penalty mysteriously awarded against Tenby, who were then marched 10 metres nearer the sticks for some comment made by a Tenby player, and fortunately the ball sailed wide of the upright.

The game drifted into a scrum after scrum phase with penalty following penalty….. and eventually Felinfoel capitalised on the pocession being given to them with referee Boswell awarding them a penalty try and the lead at 6-10. The first bench change followed that with hard working Charlie Patching being replaced by Harry Owen and skipper Luke Dedman switching from flank to his more accustomed position of second row. Now in the ascendancy Felinfoel stepped up the pace and Jack Tucker did well to minor a kick and chase and Jack

Broadhurst put in some telling defensive tackles. Carrying a slight injury the very impressive Ashley Murdoch was replaced by newcomer Gwilym Owens.

The visitors kept up the pressure and the Tenby were really being tested and it came as no surprise that from a lineout close to the Tenby line, a catch and drive, ended with Rhys Evans going over for a try which was converted by Aled Roberts pushing to scores out to 6-17. To bolster the home side replacements Jack Davies, Nicky Guymer and Rob Tuttle came on for Huw Evans, Dan Allen and Mike Davis all had put in a good shift.

Sensing that there was an opportunity for the two more tries (and the associated try bonus point) Felinfoel had obviously set as a target, being the league leaders visiting the bottom club in the league, they increased momentum and this was matched by a similar increase in work rate from the home XV with tackles flying in from all angles as the defensive line speed thwarted Felinfoel time after time forcing them backwards or into dropping the ball. Lloyd Thomas, Ethan Morgan, Jason Asparassa, Moritz Neumann, Rob Tuttle, Harry Owen and Jack Broadhurst were all getting stuck into their defensive duties.

Unfortunately the efforts were just not quite enough as virtually at the death Felinfoel went over wide out with replacement James Wood just about making it to the corner and with Aled Roberts converting, with a magnificent kick from the touchline, the game ended with Felinfoel coming off the Heywood Lane pitch as winners 6-24 but knowing that had been involved in a well contested 80 minute encounter.

To a man, the 20 players used by Tenby had done themselves and the club proud and the defensive duties put in for 80 minutes were immense. Felinfoel turned up at Heywood Lane having scored 69 tries and amassing 494 points for giving them 63 league points…. which included 10 points from scoring 4 or more tries in 10 of the 16 games they had played. To depart Heywood Lane with just a 3 point win spoke volumes for the young Tenby outfit.

With quite a number of players also unavailable, for various reasons, this performance can be used as a marker to gauge where the team is in its rebuilding phase and what needs to be done with the next home game scheduled for March 2nd against fellow strugglers Kidwelly

Scorers Tenby: 2 x penalties Lloyd Thomas:

Felinfoel Tries: Penalty try, Rhys Evans, James Wood Cons: Aled Roberts (2) Pen: Aled Roberts

Tenby:- Jack Tucker, Ashley Murdoch (Gwilym Owens), Jason Asparassa, Moritz Neumann, Shane Rossiter, Lloyd Thomas, Dan Thomas, Ethan Morgan, Dan Allen (Nicky Guymer), Huw Evans (Jack Davies), Charlie Patching (Harry Owen) Tom Barrass, Luke Dedman (Capt.), Mike Davis (Rob Tuttle), Jack Broadhurst

Felinfoel:- Leon Randall Jordon Dunne Joe Hutchings (Capt.) Kyle Simmonite Dan Thomas Aled Roberts Rhys Griffiths Chris Rumbelow Dai Hughes Rhys Evans Ashley Lloyd Jason Frater Stuart Taylor Josh Jones Curtis Morris

Reps:- Joe Poole Gareth Havard Andrew Thomas James Woods Sam James

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