Quins suffer Christmas misery in the battle for local bragging rights
On the eve of the Christmas festivities, Carmarthen Quins made the short journey down the road to face Llandovery at Church Bank as the first stanza of the league campaign drew to a close. As the rain hung in the air, the players entered the field and stood for a moment of silence to honour the sad demise of several Llandovery stalwarts.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the pause for respect seemed to have the effect of rendering them listless and they slumbered through the first quarter. Indeed before the clock reached the midway point of the opening half, the Quins trailed by 16 points caused by simple penalties being conceded.
Simple errors were being committed, such as Steff Marshall kicking straight out of touch from a restart. Soon after Lee Rees, the home nine, attempted to take a quick penalty. Unceremoniously up ended by Aaron Hemmings, the Quins were reduced to 14 as the referee produced yellow for what he saw as a tip tackle. Jack Maynard continued his perfect record to extend the lead to 9.
Having already endured relentless pressure, this period was seen as crucial to the outcome of the game. Indeed Llandovery were often running rampant as the visitors fought to plug the holes which were appearing all over the field. The Drovers tactic of kicking the ball long and chasing hard was particularly effective on the boggy pitch and Carmarthen seemed to have no answers .The Quins game plan of kicking high in the air and attempting to regather, however, often saw the ball dropped or possession handed straight back to the home side.
The start had appeared to unsettle the visitors and when even the line out , which has been such a strength in the first part of the season began to malfunction ominous signs hung in the dank air. Llandovery attacked from a scrum resulting from a line out deemed not straight. A dart from Lee Rees saw play moved from one touchline to the other and Drovers full back, Rhys Jones, held up over the line. The Carmarthen side seemingly defended the 5m scrum only for the ball to break in midfield and be picked up by Rhys Jones for a simple walk in under the sticks.
At this point with barely 20 minutes played, fears of a cricket score began to mount. However a long injury delay as the home hooker received treatment to an ankle injury seemed to suck the life out of the game. The Quins regrouped when restored to a full complement and managed to compete more effectively. However simple mistakes continued to haunt them and they were unable to breach the home “22” during the whole of the first half. With their comfortable lead, Llandovery were content to feed off the mistakes and two further penalties for Jack Maynard saw them coast to a 22 point lead at half time.
As the players returned to the field, both visiting half backs had been replaced and immediate a visit to the red zone was achieved. Once again, the ball was quickly lost and the ball hoofed down the field where it was picked up by Dylan Morgans. The winger attempted to kick it downfield, but only found the welcoming hands of blindside Lewis Ellis Jones, who couldn’t believe his luck, as he trundled over for another converted try. Llandovery now led by 29.
With only 5 minutes of the second half complete, it remained to be seen how damaging this result would be to the second half of our campaign. It was at this point that Javan Sebastian emerged from the visitor’s bench. Rarely have I seen one substitution, make such a difference to a game. Where the Carmarthen based side`s set-piece had been under constant pressure, it was now transformed. One lineout drive saw Llandovery taken 50 meters back down the pitch.
With the line-out now reborn as a potent weapon, the Drovers gave away a constant stream of penalties. One kicked to the corner, saw the classic catch and drive and Torin Myhill emerged from under the mass of bodies to register the Quins first points. Expertly converted by Jac Wilson, the deficit was reduced by 7.
As darkness began to envelop Church Bank and the lights shone out like beacons, the game began to meander with the home side seemingly content they had done enough to win the local derby and happy to continue to infringe. With Rhys Davies having come on at loose head, it was now the visitor’s scrum which took centre stage. The Llandovery pack were unable to cope and two huge shoves saw a penalty try awarded which saw the score move to 29-14 in favour of Llandovery.
As the match drew to a close, there was still time for the man in the middle to yellow card a Llandovery prop and for the Drovers to make one further visit to the Quins half. It came as a surprise when Jack Maynard spoilt his perfect record, missing a late penalty and then perhaps sparing further embarrassment, he opted to kick the next award dead signalling full time.
Ultimately this was a disappointing loss for Carmarthen Quins and hopefully it will not cast a shadow as we move into the business end of the season. Some pride was regained in the second half and one wonders, in a parallel universe where the majority of our bench started the game if the result would be different.
Reporter – Graeme Bond
Next up Swansea at Carmarthen Park the last fixture of 2017 on Saturday 30th December KO 2:30pm
Merry Christmas to you All from all at Carmarthen Quins RFC