A STEP BACK IN TIME
(By Percy Jones)
CARMARTHEN QUINS v. AMMANFORD.
(By kind permission of the Carmarthen Journal 9th January 1914)
AN EXHILARATING EXHIBITION OF RUGBY
A visit to the Fair lane Athletic Ground, Carmarthen, on New Year’s Day would serve to confuse the false prophets of the impending dethronement Rugby in West Wales. There was an enthusiasm and an old-time fervour which enthralled the eight hundred spectators thickly lining the enclosure. The contributory factors are many, but not the least is the sporting game which the ‘Quins always play, and to one who has seen them on the warpath many time, it is not at all surprising that Rugby has such a strong hold in the county town. And the advent of the Blue and Blacks enhanced the attraction. Wherever they have gone this season record crowds have been the rule; this proved the case at Carmarthen on New Years’ Day, and there would have been a few hundreds more, but for the uncertainty of whether the game would come off. The day was ideal for football, but the ground was in a frozen condition, with the result that injuries to players were anticipated. The ‘Quins, who have lost some splendid talent lately, placed in the field a strong side – the strongest available at present and Ammanford had the services of a fairly representative team, the selected side with two exceptions turning out, and Stanley Davies and Thomas (Pegler) filled the vacancies.
The teams were: – Carmarthen ‘Quins – Back, R. Watson; three- quarters, H. Thomas, Gwynne Lewis, R. W. Ley and W. Brunker; half-backs, W. Evans and Stephens; forwards, J. M. Lloyd (capt.), T. Yorke, W. J. Harries, A. Watson, Harry Lewis, Wightman, Charlie Davies and P. R. Bowen.
The selected referee – Mr. Sid Lewis, Llanellv did not make an appearance, and Mr. T. Llan Evans, Ammanford, held the whistle.
Ammanford, who had lost the toss, set the ball rolling against the slope and Brunker’s return kick was fielded by Abbot Griffiths, who punted, and Ike Jones following up, put the wing man in touch well inside home territory. The Ammanford backs secured the ball, but D. Llan Evans missed his transfer, with the result that Gwynne Lewis nipped in. He dribbled away merrily towards the opposing line, and when his progress was scotched, H. Thomas took up the running, but, luckily for the Blue and Blacks. Tommy Jones kicked out of bounds in the nick of time. Thus, the Blue and Blacks had opened play in none too promising style, but from the first scrum they heeled, and the backs made themselves dangerous. The ball sped all along the line, but, with odds on a score, Handel Richards failed to reach the ball in the final transfer. The Quins now had to assume the defensive, and a mark by Ley did not prove of much advantage as Burchell found touch well inside their quarters. Yorke tried to barge through in the line out but was soon held up. Offside by Evans caused the Quins to be penalised, and Ivor Jones from an awkward angle made an abortive attempt at goal. Ammanford handling again tested the Quins’ defence, but Watson brought Handel Richards down with a fine tackle. The Blue and Blacks were giving the ball plenty of air but the Quins were evidently more concerned with putting their opponents off their game than with conceiving movements of their own, for the forwards rarely attempted to secure the ball in the scrums, which they broke up quickly, and Abbot Griffiths, battling against odds, experienced a hard time of it. Breaking away in speedy style, the Quins gained nearly half the length of the field ere their progress was stopped. However, Ammanford retaliated to the centre, where a lot of dribbles and counter-dribbles resulted. Ivor Jones was playing up to his high traditions, and made a grand opening, but Handel Richards was well looked after on the left. Abbot Griffiths, the next moment, tried to put Ivor Jones over on the blind side without success, and twice in succession Ammanford handling threatened danger, but Watson and H. Thomas were equal to the occasion. Soon after, the ball, from a kick by Tommy Jones, rolled out of bounds. A punt by T. J. Bowes, and smart following up by Ike Jones, sent play to the bottom comer, where, after some scrambling play, Thomas, the Ammanford forward, dived for the ball and scored. Ivor Jones failed at conversion, although the attempt was a good one. Immediately following the drop-out, the Quins had again to defend their line for a while. Dai Llan Evans marked in a favourable position, but Burchell failed with his kick for goal, and H. Thomas re- turned to touch. The same player gained ground from the line out for the home men, and Evans sent play to midfield, but Abbot Griffiths, the next scrum, beat his opponent, and sent the ball to Trevor Williams, who passed along to D. M. Rees. The transfer, however, was low and Rees could not pick up and kicked to touch. The Blue and Blacks again exerted presures, but the home forwards relieved matters, and Evans dribbled away nicely from the scrum. Brunker marked, but failed to find touch, and Ivor Jones, taking the ball, sprinted away up the slope. The movement came to nought, Handel Richards being pun into touch. At this stage play livened up considerably. A feeble punt by Watson enabled Ammanford to take up a strong position inside home territory, and George Rees and Trevor Williams made themselves danger- ous on the line. However, Watson made a lucky save. fly-kicking to touch in goal.
Half-time score: Ammanford, 1 try; Carmarthen Quins, nil.
- M. Lloyd restarted for the ‘Quins, and T. J. Bowen returned, the ball rolling to touch. Ammanford got going strongly from the scrum. D. Llan Evans made a good opening, and Ike Jones with a fine sprint beat a couple of opponents, but Watson, who was making no mistake in his tackling, brought him down on the line. The Quins were given an anxious time, and considerable excitement prevailed. They strove pluckily to ease the situation but no sooner had they done so than Ike Jones again made himself dangerous. Wightman, who had been brought out of the pack to stiffen the ‘Quins’ defence, held him up but a bunch of Ammanford players took up the running, and dribbled the ball over the line, Abbot Griffiths scoring his maiden try of the season wide out. Burchell failed to pilot the leather over the bar. The next minute the ‘Quins were given a narrow squeak. Thomas touching down only in the nick of time. Afterwards, Brunker and Wightman were prominent for the ‘Quins, who, for the first time since the interval, carried play to the halfway line. Their stay there was only transient, for more Ammanford passing saw the defence well-beaten and Tommy Jones scored a pretty try near the corner. Although nine points down, the Quins were undaunted, and, following the drop-out, made an incursion into Ammanford quarters, but Geo. Rees saved with a huge punt to touch. Play settled down at midfield for a while, and then Ivor Jones cut out a splendid opening, but his transfer was adjudged forward. The Quins were keeping up the pace well, and Stephens found touch a few yards of the Ammanford line, but a minute later made the mistake of kicking over the line practically into Burchell’s hands, and a minor was conceded. The scene of operations was soon changed, and after a passing round in which Geo. Rees and Dai Llan Evans figured, Ike Jones lost the ball in crossing. A minor was forced, and again Watson held up Ike Jones. The Quins for the first time essayed passing in their own twenty five and Wightman made a nice run but was overhauled by Geo. Rees. Ammanford in the final stages strove to increase their lead. but the home men put up a stubborn defence. Trevor Williams charged down a kick and Dai Evans burst through, but with almost a clear field he failed to take the ball with him. Ley sent to touch. Twice Ammanford passed, but in each case the wing men were run to touch and, on the call of time, Dai Llan Evans dropped for goal, but the ball went low.
Final score: – Ammanford, 3 tries; Carmarthen Quins, nil.
The game produced a wealth of exciting incidents, and interest was well maintained right to the end. Neither side can quarrel much with the actual result. Ammanford were plainly the more experienced and polished side. and, when the events of the afternoon are calmly reviewed, no one can gain- say the fact that they fully deserved to win by the nine-point margin. They attacked early and often, and nolv the most stubborn defence offered by the Quins could have kept them out. In this connection the hardness of the ground proved probably a big handicap to the Ammanford backs in their movements, for side-stepping and swerving were out of the question under such conditions, and the wing men naturally had to exercise restraint, rather than risk a heavy tackle. Ivor Jones was undoubtedly the best of the Ammanford backs. He has a splendid nose for a good opening, and some of his efforts in that direction were simply great. – Of the forwards Geo. Rees appeared offenest in the limelight, but T. J. Bowen, D. M. Rees, D. Evans and Trevor Williams were frequently in the picture.
In justice to the Quins it has to be borne in mind that they are a young lot and very much on the light side at forward, and also that they were opposed to one of the most clever second-class combinations in South Wales. Their display was withal highly creditable, and, although their colours were lowered, they have the consolation of knowing that they had their opponents fully extended more than once in stopping their speedy breakaways. This time they varied their tactics, no doubt acting upon the advice contained in the adage that “The other team will play as well as they are allowed to.” Consequently the forwards did’ not attempt anything in the way of honest scrummaging, but broke away quickly. Watson, with an improvement in kicking, will develop into a fine full-back. Of the “three” Brunker and Gwynne Lewis were perhaps the cleverer, but H. Thomas and Ley especially the former, got through a lot of good work and Evans, at the base of the scrum, fairly distinguished himself.