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A victory that could/should have been… for a dogged Tenby United

Tenby United (20) 20 Llangennech (17) 24

With Llangennech the final visitors to Heywood Lane a patched up FBM sponsored Tenby United saved their best performance of the season against the third placed team in the league and came away with a game they could (should) have won and at the end of the day walked off with a losing bonus point only.

The start of the game could not have been worse for Tenby with Llangennech first to trouble the scoreboard operator when a neat chip over the onrushing Tenby defence by Steff Marshall was scooped up by centre Tom Barnes who went over for a try, converted by Carwyn Richards, and the home side were 0-7 down within minutes. Despite this unfortunate start it was Tenby, despite playing into a stiff breeze, that seized the initiative putting Llangennech on the back foot with a series of attacks involving both forwards and backs and they were rewarded for their efforts when from a penalty awarded for offside a quick tap and go ended with wing Jordan Asparassa going over wide out. The angle, the wind and the upright combined to prevent Lloyd Thomas from adding to the score as the ball bounced the wrong side of the posts, but at 5-7 Tenby were well pleased with the way they had recovered from their shaky start.

Right from the restart Tenby launched into attack mode with again forwards and backs involved, despite the many changes to the XV out on the park, combining well and the big Llangennech eight were being stretched to stop another score. Two great forward drives were rewarded with referee Ludgate penalising Llangennech for bringing the drive down illegally and Lloyd Thomas stroked the ball between the uprights giving Tenby a deserved and rather surprising early lead at 8-7.

The visitors were somewhat taken aback by the match situation as sitting third in the league they had obviously turned up expecting an easier encounter against the league’s bottom club, prior to their planned “night out at the seaside” getting into full swing – Tenby United were obviously not there to be cannon fodder to this plan. Tenby had a stroke of luck with experienced prop Steff Jones having to leave the field for the visitors with an ankle injury and at the next scrum the replacement prop was penalised for going to ground. Taking advantage of the strengthening wind Llangennech put the home side under immense pressure as the created several chances to regain the lead but it was the tremendous defence of the home side that held firm – eventually causing the ball to be knocked on and Lloyd Thomas eventually clearing the threat..

Right out of the blue it was Tenby that went on the attack with a sweeping move which ended with wing Jerome Mansbridge and centre Moritz Neumann combining to put Tom Barrass over, taking the lead out to 13-7. Encouraged by the level at which they were playing and attacking, Tenby maintained the pressure and a charged down clearance kick ended with Jordon Asparassa being blatantly high tackled as he was getting clear, an offence that was seen by everybody at Heywood lane except the one who mattered, referee Ludgate. Rather than complain about the incident Tenby rallied and a classic pick up at the base of the scrum by the number eight, who in turn linked with scrum half Ben Pugh who then linked up with centre Moritz Neumann sending him crashing through the visitors defence, going over the line under the posts. With Lloyd Thomas adding the extras Tenby were now comfortably 20-7 in the lead.

Shouted on by their coaching staff Llangennech put several attacking moves together but were frustrated by a resilient Tenby defence with the speedy defensive line proving a major obstacle as they tried to close the scores but their persistence was eventually rewarded when acting quickly at a penalty the half backs worked centre Tom Barnes clear who went over for

his second try closing the scores to 20-12. Obviously intent on adding to that score, the visitors put several clever attacks together but either through knock ons or sound tackling by the well organised Tenby defence, they were kept at bay.

Unfortunately a wayward kick out of defence got caught on the wind and instead of sailing harmlessly into touch floated in field and found the only Llangennech player in that area of the field who just about scampered over the line wide out for an unconverted try, narrowing the score to 20-17 right on half time.

Encouragement was the order of the day at the half time team talk with Tenby looking forward to building on their narrow lead by taking full advantage of playing with the wind in their favour. The visitors were obviously told to “up their game” with some very strong and lively expressions used in their half time huddle by a couple of not very happy coaches and the two sides engaged from the kick off each just about holding their own as the game went into 50/50 mode with defence the key.

The visitors used their bench with several fresh pairs of legs entering the fray and as the half progressed both sets of supporters urged their side on. After scoring three tries into the wind in the first half Tenby could have been expected to cross the whitewash again but it was not to be, as Llangennech, from a pick and go off the base of an attacking scrum, ended with skipper and number eight Richard Thomas crossing the line for what proved to be the only score of the second half. The conversion by Carwyn Richards put Llangennech in the lead at 20-24.

Intent on regaining the lead, and to still come away with what has proved all season to be an illusive victory, Tenby piled on the pressure forcing Llangennech to infringe on several occasions but the hoped for yellow card stayed in referee Ludgate’s pocket and from one penalty awarded a quick thinking Ben Pugh took a tap’n’go and crossed the line only for referee Ludgate to call him back as he (the referee) wasn’t ready!! When it’s not your day – it’s not your day.

Despite several other sorties deep into the Llangennech half Tenby just didn’t have the momentum or clear opportunity to score, what undoubtedly would have been a winning try, and with referee Ludgate blowing for time it ended what has been a long hard home set of games – with no victory to celebrate.

There were no outstanding performances on the day, it was a simple case of the entire team playing exceptionally well and with one or two luckier bounces or passes the much hoped for win could have been achieved – but all involved trooped off for a beer with nothing left out on the field – they had all given 110%

Tenby United would like to thank match sponsors Tenby Tourers for their support as well as Mo Crockford for the provision of the half time refreshments (oranges), completing her 19th season, very much appreciated.

The final league game is in Saturday April 27th away to fellow relegated team Kidwelly.

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