|September 17, 2016||2:30 pm||SWALEC Division 2 East Central||2016-17|
|Dinas Powys RFC||4||1||1||0||2||2||25||Bonus Point Loss|
|Llanishen RFC||4||4||0||0||1||5||28||Bonus Point Win|
In a cruel twist of fate, Dinas succumbed to their first defeat of the season losing 25-28 to visitors, Llanishen, in a game that they could have and quite simply should have won.
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[dropcap]B[/dropcap]uoyed by last week’s sterling performance against the Old Illts, the Villagers were in a confident but not complacent mood.
Just like the Illts, Llanishen are also newcomers to Division 2 having been relegated from Division 1 last season. Although the visitors have suffered from an exodus of players over the summer, they are still seen by many as one of the teams likely to be pushing for promotion this year. Consequently, this match would give a true benchmark against which coaches John Dunleavy, Luke Gibbson and Wayne could measure just how far their squad has developed.
A healthy gathering of supporters stood on the touchlines, bathed once again in the late summer sun. Scrum-half Tom Davies gave the home team a dream start. Within three minutes of the match getting underway, he crossed the whitewash for the opening try in the near side corner. Sam Middlemiss‘ difficult conversion attempt crept over the bar and Dinas were seven points to the good.
The Villagers were having a blinding opening spell, running some delightful angles and pressurising the Llanishen defence. An infringement by the visitors led to another opportunity to kick at goal. Middlemiss’ effort from fifteen meters inside the Llanishen half had enough legs to cross for the three points.
Dinas were in their element and playing the style of rugby that all Welsh fans love to see. The ball moved between forwards and backs fluidly as the home team stretched the Llanishen defence once again. In doing so they were creating opportunities aplenty and when one fell to winger James Wiltshire he didn’t need a second invitation. The initial break was by Middlemiss who darted through the parting defensive line. He off-loaded the ball to the supporting David Lloyd who eventually passed the ball to Wiltshire who, with his blistering pace, easily left the chasing defenders in his wake to crash over for the second of Dinas’ tries. Although the conversion attempt was unsuccessful, the home team had a comfy fifteen point lead. The visiting players must have wondered what on earth had happened. Just ten minutes of the match had passed and they already had a sizeable gap to pull back.
But that’s when things started to go wrong for the Villagers. Paradoxically the celebrated style of rugby that followers of Dinas enjoy so much can also be the cause of dismay. During twenty minutes, Dinas received no fewer that three yellow cards. Each player was given their marching orders for an intentional knock-on having unsuccessfully attempting to intercept the ball as it was passed along the line by the visitors.[/one_half]
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The following twenty minutes cost the home team dearly as Llanishen ran in three converted tries to the great delight of the travelling spectators. This spell, against a depleted Dinas team which at one point consisted of just thirteen players, was the only time when Llanishen looked to be in the ascendancy.
And so it was that at the half-way point Dinas remarkably found themselves trailing Llanishen by six points with the score at 15-21.
Dinas had, without a doubt, suffered a crushing blow but the youthful team are not one to underestimated. Their resolve and spirit is simply immense. The riposte was clinical. Ryan Shallish collected the ball from the restart and made a determined run deep into the Llanishen half. Fellow forward, Tom ‘Tank’ Baister continued to make the hard yards. The ball eventually found its way into the waiting hands of Wiltshire who lit the afterburners to scorch over for his second, and Dinas’ third try of the game. Unfortunately, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful but Dinas were back within a point.
Back to full strength, the Villagers once again kept testing Llanishen. On the fifty-first minute, Rhys Evans scored to secure a bonus point. The kick ahead by Ben White bounced cruelly in front of the retreating Llanishen defence, bounced up and over their heads into the hands of Evans. Once again, the conversion attempt was missed but Dinas were back on top, both on the scoreboard and on the field.
Fate is a fickle creature and so it was to be for Dinas. During the final phases of play, encamped within the Llanishen twenty-two, a loose ball was snapped up by the opposition who ran a full ninety metres to dab down under the posts for the simplest of conversion. One moment the Villagers looked in control and destined for another score then, in the blink of an eye, the game was lost.
The feeling of disappointment cannot be understated. The anguish etched on every one of Dinas’ players, coaches and spectators. In contrast, the elation from Llanishen, who must be thanking some higher power, was just as palpable.
Despite the outcome, the Villagers can be confident of their ability to challenge and compete with any team in the league. We have nothing to fear.
And as for the benchmark – we measure up pretty well!