Quins 18 Neath 14
In another example of not turning possession into points, the Quins failed to capitalise on the control they mastered for nearly all of this match but still came away with the win.
Nathan Williams led the team out to celebrate his final match for the Quins and they started at a blistering pace and play in the opening minutes was camped in the Neath 22.
Aled Thomas converted a third minute penalty and with moving the ball the order of the day, two minutes later an enterprising attack with several Quins players handling saw Dale Ford used his clever footwork to go over in the Gas Works corner. Thomas’ kick hit the upright and stayed out.
More ball moving followed but the Quins handling did not match their enthusiasm and a loose pass was pounced on by Neath and their counter attack took play up to the Quins 22 and from their possession the ball was moved left to see full back Ed Howley find a gap to cross for a well taken try. He added the points himself to narrow the gap to two points.
Despite their superior line work and solid set piece,the home side could not break down a resolute Neath defence and this led to some unusual sloppy play by them which was a pity as prior to this match the pace and accuracy of their play was always entertaining. Another lesson learned. Patience is a virtue and must be adhered to produce the desired effect. The sides changed ends with just the one point difference.
With perfect weather conditions and the supporters expecting better, an improvement was on the cards. Alas, it did not live up to expectations. Credit has to be given to the Welsh All Blacks as their backs to the wall actions certainly disrupted the Quins thinking, and as nearly always happens in circumstances like this, an upset happens. And it did, as four minutes into the second period, a Neath offensive paid off, and after a injury in the Quins 22, the delay enabled the visitors to catch the Quins off guard and a tap penalty restart gave Ed Howley the chance slice through for his second try and his conversion gave the Blacks a 14- 8 lead.
This did have the desired effect on the home side as they looked to have settled down to a determined pattern of play and a series of ball keeping phases took play into the Vicarage corner, Ifan Beynon-Thomas latched on to a controlled heel and spun the ball left, three players handled to give Dylan Morgan the chance he relishes and his skill and power did the rest, allowing him to cross for a well taken try. Aled Thomas’ conversion regained the home side lead.
A single point was never going to be enough to see the Quins relax, and they had to pull out all the stops themselves. From a promising Neath move they gained a penalty 40 yards out and up stepped Howley, and from an expected attempt the ball sailed inches left of the posts, to the relief of the home support.
At long last the Quins realised the precarious situation they were in and turned on the heat, and with play in the visitors 22 for several minutes they were awarded a penalty on the 22. Haydn Pugh had no hesitation in asking Aled Thomas to do the honours, to which he did and give the Quins an important four point lead.The final minutes of the game were spent in the Black 22 but their defence held out to prevent any further scoring.
This win keeps them in fourth place in the League and with their young squad getting more and more experience, next season is eagerly awaited. The pluses to come out of this disappointing outing were the line out work of Lee Taylor, Haydn Pugh, and the ever improving set piece, which gives our backs the chance they need. Roll on next season.