The game against Cardiff in the Park kicked off late due to the visitors and officials having traffic problems on the way to Carmarthen but when it did start it proved to be an exciting display of running rugby played out in glorious sunshine.
Cardiff started the quicker, got the better of the early kicking exchanges and generally played in the home side’s half. However, it was the Quins who had the first scoring opportunity but James Dixon missed the penalty chance. Cardiff responded with a Joe Griffin penalty and minutes later Matthew Screech crashed over for a try converted by Griffin.
It took until the second quarter for Carmarthen to really get into the game with the back row at their scavenging best and Tom Rees running powerfully deep into the opposition half. Eventually, with the break fast approaching, Haydn Pugh rose high in the line out, fed the ball into his pack and it was Carwyn Jones who popped up with the ball and crashed over for an unconverted try. Straight from the kick off the Quins gave Griffin a 45m. penalty shot which he duly converted.
Now in overtime the game was still not over and fine runs by James Davies, Alex Pickersgill and Haydn Pugh took play into the Cardiff half close enough for Dixon to glide through the defence before off-loading to Rheon James for the try. After his earlier three misses Dixon was able to convert this one to make the score 12-13 at half time.
After the interval Will Thomas and Cory Allen looked dangerous for Cardiff but frequent infringements by the visitors allowed Dixon, who had now found his range, to slot two more penalties. The Quins now had a lead and, with the pack being strengthened with the introduction of Kevin Jones and Richard Wilkes in the front row, the home side started to dominate. From a fair catch in their own “22” taken quickly Sion Bennett charged down field. The ball went through the hands of Rees and Pickersgill before reaching Wilkes who sold an outrageous dummy before going over for another converted try.
The running and inter-passing between forwards and backs alike was causing havoc in the Cardiff ranks and it was not long before James Davies, having an outstanding match, was freed up to score his converted try. Lee Williams kept up the pressure with a couple of long, speedy runs but, against the run of play, it was Cardiff’s Steve Cullen who got the next score with a corner flag try.
The introduction of the rest of the substitutes and a few positional changes lost Carmarthen their momentum for the last ten minutes and the less effective defence allowed Ruben Tucker to score a converted try. It was then only for Dan Newton to score with a penalty and for the defences to hold firm to finish the match with Carmarthen Quins the bonus point victors by 35 – 25.
After the match team manager, Steff Thomas, said, “We are pleased to get our first win of the season. It was far from a complete performance, but we did put some good periods of rugby together.” He also added, “I thought Lee Williams was outstanding. When he went first receiver from broken play he was dictating play with devastating effect.”
Next Match ~ September 15th. Pontypridd (H)
Reporter ~ Keith Bond