RESULT: Tata Steel 5 - Carmarthen Quins 33
On 10 August the Quins travelled to Port Talbot to take on championship side Tata Steel in their first friendly of the new season.
Both sides had new players on show and gave both sets of supporters plenty of entertainment to revel in. Since last season we have said goodbye to several of our old squad, but the players drafted in for this first match put on a display that will trouble other teams in the premiership race.
Playing conditions were perfect, which meant that we were destined to have a fast and furious game from the first whistle. The home pack had the advantage in weight and height, so the Quins eight were given a stern test, but proved themselves to be stronger overall as the game progressed. Half backs Aled James and Aled Thomas pleased Quins supporters with their ample possession, and from an early line out the two worked together to make the most of the space, resulting in a delicate chip through to Nick Reynolds who raced home to touch down for the opening score which was expertly converted by Thomas.
The home side responded with equal determination and a move up the left gave wing Ryan Roberts the chance to cross in the left corner, but the kick sailed wide. The Quins pack gave the backs a good amount of ball, which was handled through to Nick Reynolds who powered over the line for his second try which wasn't converted.
More open play followed and both defences were tested until, on the half hour mark, slick handling by the Quins backs resulted in Jack Price sliding through for a well-taken try near to the posts, with Aled Thomas topping off the two points. The remaining ten minutes saw the Quins camped in the home 22 but they failed to break the Tata defence.
The second 40 minutes gave the Quins the favourable advantage of the breeze and play was kept in the home half for long periods. Following a line out deep in the Tata half, Hadyn Pugh took a clean ball and with a powerful drive took play over the line, only to see the referee award a penalty try which was converted by Aled Thomas to take the away team's score up to 26.
The Quins pack continued to get the better of the tight and loose skirmish, and it was only a spirited defence - together with early season rust and over eagerness - that prevented multiple attempts on the line, although a controlled drive by the Quins forwards gave Dylan Morgan the chance to throw his power into breaking tackles to cross the line and create a good try for Thomas to convert.
This was an excellent opening game for the Quins and was achieved without the services of several players who were unable to play due to being included in a premier division select team to take on the Scarlets. The performance against Tata will give the coaching staff plenty of encouragement and enthusiasm for the task ahead, not to mention giving Quins supporters a taste of what the squad is capable of and a new season to look forward to.
Our second friendly will be away to Cardiff on 19 September, when we will have a full complement of players to really take the game to the opposition. Many thanks to Tata who gave us a great game - best of luck for the season ahead.
Match report by Alan Bowen.