WRU BOWL semi final
Cardigan 3 Amman United 29
Cardigan needed to produce the performance of the season against Amman to have any chance of reaching the final and that was exactly what they did for the opening seventeen minutes and they should have been at least twelve points ahead.
Outside half Llyr Jones missed two penalties in front of the posts and centre Marcus Castle looked as if he was through for a try under the posts but a desperate tackle stopped him, but there was no support on his shoulder to finish the move off. But at this stage Cardigan were very impressive and were dominant in the line out with Dylan ‘Rambo’ Davies taking three against the head and the huge crowd willing the Cardi’s on. However the Ceredigion side were unable to turn this very promising start into points and crucially missed the composure of some key players unemployed on the touchline.
This promising start though quickly diminished as Amman improved their set piece and settled into a rhythm, this largely inspired by the introduction of former Wales and British Lions star Shane Williams with the scores locked at 0-0. The sheer presence of the wing wizard seemed to bamboozle the inexperienced Cardigan team and they lost their way from here and never really looked like crossing the whitewash again.
Williams who was persuaded to come out of retirement to play for his home town club at the eleventh hour was put under severe pressure when he replaced full back Gavin Lewis and he dropped the first three high balls but he made some telling breaks,one of which led to a try.
Amman though rode their luck in the early stages and bounced back with a try from Rhys Thomas wide out after Cardigan had been turned over at a defensive scrum just prior to a superb break from Williams. This was converted by scrum half Joel Foster who also added a penalty soon afterwards. Cardigan hit back with a penalty from the boot of Jones before Cardigan were caught with a sucker blow just before half time when prop Liam Mangan barged his way over after side stepping Town full back John Lumb.
It was all Amman at this stage and they played a very simple game and got themselves into the right areas of the field with some good kicking out of hand and just did the right things at the right time and with composure.
Cardigan coach Colin Horscroft threw on experienced back rowers in Colin Davies and Gareth Clifford to inject a bit of urgency and go forward with the latter adding some much needed punch to the proceedings but it really was too late. Within a minute Amman winger Dean Williams sliced through a flat footed defence to kill the game off at 20-3. Foster added the extras to add further salt to the wounds but Cardigan never gave in and they spent a large part of the second half in opposition territory but they never really looked like scoring a try despite the best efforts of props Richard Jones and Tomos Evans, skipper Llyr Griffiths and second row Davies who all put in big shifts.
The Cardigan backline sorely missed the presence of Emyr Harries as the Amman midfield had far too much time and space and they made the most of their opportunities when they arrived. Centre Mathew Brayley who is a talented footballer made it four tries to nil late on and the conversion by Foster completed a comfortable win for Amman United who will meet Caerphilly in the final.
A disappointing afternoon for Horscroft and his men with the big occasion sapping up the energy and concentration of some of the players but they all as a team put a huge amount of effort into the game and gave it their best shot. Amman United were just too good on the day and even though the score line flattered them a little they will be a match for most teams in division two when they go up.
Speaking after the game Horscroft saluted the efforts of his players and said:” I was very proud of their performance and the way we played.
” We started well and enjoyed a lot of territory in the first half and the second half but couldn’t quite make it count but I can’t fault our effort or commitment.
” Fair play to Amman they were a very good side and good luck to them.”
As for Shane Williams, well he took a big risk in taking part as there is a huge amount of money resting on his shoulders as he had planned to run the London Marathon in a few weeks time in aid of his favourite charity The Velindre Cancer Centre. However, ironically he spent most of Saturday night at the A&E department of his local hospital with a hairline fracture of the jaw and may well miss the marathon and ofcourse the final of the Bowl.
Hopefully he is a quick healer and will be able to fulfil both diary dates.