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Llangwm youth edge St Julians in Cup thriller

St Julians RFC 17-18 Llangwm RFC

HAVING seen off Waunarlwydd and Carmarthen Athletic in earlier rounds, Llangwm RFC Youth XV made the long journey to Caerleon for a last 16 clash with St Julians RFC.

Having put together a run of 4 consecutive victories prior to this game confidence was running high in the camp and the boys were looking sharp in warm up even though they had not played for a few weeks due to the autumn internationals and a couple of weather related cancellations.

Indeed it was the home side who came out of the blocks firing and they took an early lead with a well struck penalty and despite some obvious attacking intent from the young wasps the Gwent men extended their lead after an ambitious pass in midfield was intercepted by their outside centre who raced through unopposed for a converted try to give them a 10-0 advantage.

The deficit was reduced to seven points just minutes later when Caerleon were penalised for side entry at a ruck and up stepped centre Fletcher Picton to calmly slot the first three points of the game for Llangwm.

For the remainder of the half a number of attacking phases almost resulted in further scores for both teams but resolute defence and a couple of basic errors resulted in the score remaining at 10-3 in favour of the hosts.

The half time team talk from coaches Dafydd Bowen and Jonathan Whitticombe focused on the positives and what they felt was needed in order to convert pressure in to points.

Within minutes of the restart a speculative kick in to space from fullback Iwan Davies deep in to the opposition 22 was poorly dealt with and the arrival of the sizeable Llangwm forward pack ensured that possession was retained and a series of forward drives eventually saw second row Matthew Cole power over the line for the try which was successfully converted by Iwan Davies to bring the scores level after 42 minutes of play.

Both teams continued to play some great attacking rugby but with very little between them in terms of ability and physicality the deadlock was difficult to break.

A penalty was awarded to the wasps on the halfway mark which was well within kicking range for Fletcher Picton but he had other ideas and his speed of thought with a quick tap penalty caught everyone napping which resulted in a fine individual try and an outstanding grounding just inches from the touchline for a 15-10 lead with Davies narrowly missing the conversion to the left of the uprights.

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With just 12 minutes remaining the home side played their part in an intense and determined attack which for the most part was defended outstandingly well by Llangwm, including them being held up over the line twice.

St Julians were awarded a penalty from which they kicked to touch for the attacking line out, an area of their game which had brought them success and their reward was a try in the corner from the resulting line out drive to level the scores at 15-15.

The try was converted by the opposition outside half with an outstanding touchline kick to give his team a 17-15 lead with just 3 minutes remaining on the clock.

A seemingly huge hill to climb but every one of the boys pulled out all the stops and worked hard for field position which resulted in a panic clearance kick being played by the St Julians No.8 in an offside position so the penalty was awarded just outside the opposition 22 – up stepped young Fletcher Picton and he calmly slotted the three-pointer which gave us the one point lead and another two minutes of play to defend for their lives.

A spilled ball on the halfway line saw Llangwm regain possession and fly half Harry Makepeace ensured that the ball was cleared off the park and the final whistle was blown much to the relief and delight of captain Arwyn O’Loughlin, the team and the faithful band of supporters who were rewarded with an excellent victory for the long trip up from Pembrokeshire.

Onwards now to the quarter final stages of the competition. The games are getting harder and the standard is getting higher as Lllangwm progress through but this group of young men will proudly fly the flag for both Pembrokeshire rugby and for Llangwm RFC in their quest for a place in the final at the Principality Stadium.

Report by Adrian Davies