Resolven RFC | 1st Team 27 - 34 Aberavon Quins RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
08 January 2018 / Team News

Resolven v Quins.

Resolven 27. Aberavon Quins 34


It was bitterly cold day with a strong wind blowing down the Neath Valley, the sparse crowd were hoping for action to warm their Rugby souls, they were not to be disappointed and both teams served up a treat of a game.

An inauspicious start, with Ryan Pugh kicking the ball dead from the KO, a theme for kickers from the hand too until their collective judgement improved as they familiarised themselves with conditions. The visiting back row trio had a great start to the game with Robbie Morgan pick and go from a scrum popped up the ball to the dynamic Dylan McLauchlin on his inside, the resulting recycled ball was quickly transferred from scrum half Nick Hill to open side Conor O’Callaghan who crashed over the imaginary gainline producing quick ball once more, outside half Foard Cooksley spotted Ryan Pugh hitting a tremendous angle and deftly slipped Pugh the ball, he in turn, found himself in acres of space with only the full back Jonny Fields to beat. Pugh fixed the last defender and accurately found winger Cameron Douglas in support to score out wide. Mark Sheppard added the extra points with the difficult conversion.

The Quins seemed comfortable and added to their lead after Rory Hinchliffe showed deft footwork, dribbling like a new born baby through a couple of defenders, showing so much control you might be fooled that he had an extra leg! Resolven were forced into conceding a penalty in front of their own posts. Sheppard slotted with ease and the Quins were good for their 10 point lead.

Resolven, playing into the wind but down the slope, kick started themselves literally and metaphorically and with the Quins discipline waning home outside half Owen Evans put his team within 10 metres of the visitors line. Hooker, Niki Reed accurately found Mathew Hopkins who supplied good ball, consistently for his team for most of the game, Resolven forwards set out their stall with lots of pick and go’s from rucks with both props Jack Jones and veteran captain Mike Ralph to the fore. Indeed, Ralph smashed his way over under the posts and Evans added the sundries.

This set the trend for the duration of the game with the Quins pulling away on the scoreboard only to be clawed back by a resolute Resolven.

The Quins, using the wind intelligently, gained good field position and with the back row triumphant supported manfully by both locks, flame haired Callum Beynon and the indefatigable Liam Oates, produced strong forward drives into the heart of the home defence sucked in wide defenders, veteran centre Mark Sheppard picked a great line and Hill supplied the pass for him to dive over under the sticks, this score took Mark’s total points scored for Aberavon Harlequins past 2000, a fantastic achievement from a great servant to the club. Apart from a couple of seasons at Pontrydyfen Mark has played for the Quins since his schoolboy days and has been superb throughout. Sheppy converted and is on his way to 3000.

Resolven 10 points adrift then upped their game, disrupting a Quins scrum and stealing a rare ball against the head, Number 8 Anthony Lee gained ground with Ash Morgan and Ross Sandry aiding the cause, the Quins, yet again, were penalised and kick to the corner produced more of the same from the home team and they battered the visitors tryline once more. In a replay of the Quins earlier try, centre Darren Bowen cut a line and dotted down next to the left hand post, Evans added the extra 2 to make it 17 points to 12.

Resolven, fired by this score, found renewed vigour and their forwards were difficult to contain with their driving game asking serious questions of the Quins defence. An altercation between the teams led to a red card being brandished to hooker Dan Helson, this seemed a little harsh considering the pace of the game left little time for thuggery of any kind, the game was played in an otherwise great spirit.

Tyler Hopkins, returning from a knee injury, replaced the injured Conor O’Callaghan, ironically for a similar ailment, just minutes after the red card enabled the Quins to have a full front row compliment. Still short of half time the Quins conceded yet another penalty, and like Groundhog Day the inevitable kick to the corner forward driving try ensued with Glenn Owens accredited the score, the conversion dropped short but the half time score was 17 all.

With the home team having numerical advantage and score parity, added to the wind factor the travelling support thought that a difficult second half was inevitable.

Quins head coach, Chris O’Callaghan made a masterful tactical substitution at the half time break, winger Cameron Douglas making way for the legend that is Craig Cox. Coxy stepped into the second row releasing Liam Oates into his favoured loose forward position. This made Resolven work much harder for any forward momentum with Cox adding his bulk to support his props, Thomas Morley and captain Dan Morgan at scrum, he helped in sacking or repelling lineout drives and his technique in the tackle stopped a lot of the pick and drives that were Resolven’s main weapon. This forced Resolven to seek the wider options with the numerical advantage behind. Both wingers, Nathan Davies and Lewis Knoyle and full back Jonny Field started seeing some of the ball but with Pugh, Lewis Cronin, Hinchliffe and Cooksley putting in defence shift they had little room to work with.

Early in the second half Dylan McLauchlin smashed his way upfield thanks to deft work from Morgan and Sheppard, in their panicked scramble defence Resolven conceded a penalty that Mark Sheppard eased between the uprights to regain the lead.

Almost immediately afterwards the Quins drove deep into their opponents half, pressure from a rushed defence caused the Resolven three quarters to panic and a stray pass hit their own post and Lewis Cronin pounced on the loose ball to notch his first try of the game, Sheppard slotted to put the Quins 10 points in front.

From the restart Callum Beynon showed his impersonation of Edward Scissorshand and dropped the ball Resolven secured possession once more and immediately put immense pressure on the Quins defence. In fairness there was an added steel with Cox in the ranks and Quins repelled their hosts. The Quins scrum started to take control pinching one against the head by pushing the home pack off the ball, Rob Morgan fed the ever enthusiastic Cronin who galloped over for his second, Sheppard popped over the conversion for a 34 points to 17 lead.

Yet again the home team rallied to have territorial advantage stretching the Quins from side to side before reverting to the successful pick and drive game to score their bonus point try through Sandry. A nail biting last 10 minutes with Resolven throwing all they had at the 14 men of Aberavon Quins. Despite this the last play of the game was a penalty and being 10 points behind Resolven decided to attempt a kick at goal to achieve a second bonus point for being within 7 of the Quins. Outside half Evans was cool as you like with his kick sailing through the uprights.

The final score was Resolven 27 Aberavon Quins 34, a fantastic game for the supporters but frustration for both head coach’s Puckett and O’Callaghan with defensive lapses and worrying disciplinary issues.


Andrew Dacey


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