Division 3 west
Cardigan 17 Llanybydder 12
Cardigan produced their best performance of the season to defeat Llanybydder to continue with their much improved run of form and put a few smiles back on the faces of the Gollop Stand faithful.
Just a couple of months ago the Cardi’s were still scratching around for their second victory of the season after an early success against St David’s but a win against Ceredigion rivals Tregaron in mid November ended a run of five defeats and they have not looked back since then.
This fourth win in five matches tops the lot as Llanybydder have always proved to be a tough nut to crack and so it proved on the weekend but Cardigan were unrecognisable from the team that lost 39-14 in the corresponding fixture away.
The faces largely remain the same but the biggest difference has been the rapid rise in self belief, especially amongst the younger members of the team coupled with the work of forwards coach Colin Horscroft who has sorted out the scrum and improved the line out and Cardigan are now far more competitive.
One player who has made a huge difference is powerful blind side flanker Sean Owen and it was he who opened the home account with a very smart try from a line out move. Hooker Andrew Fletcher took the ball on the burst and he slipped the ball to Owen who crashed over for full back Llyr Jones to convert. The hosts had another decent chance very soon after this but Llanybydder stole the ball at a line out ten metres out and the chance was wasted.
However the home lead was increased when following some great carries by Fletcher, Owen and prop Ben Hughes outside half Iwan John made a superb break from a scrum and his show and go left the visiting defence for dead and his try and conversion put Cardigan ahead 14-0. Llanybydder though as expected came back strongly with the likes of skipper Ricky Davies and Rhys Rowlands and full back Marlon Olivier making the hard yards and a try eventually arrived when inside centre Bleddyn Jones stormed over.
The visitors efforts to bag another try before half time were largely thwarted by a succession of knock on’s and these unforced errors seemed to spread across the team and it came as no surprise when Cardigan increased their lead to 17-5 with a Jones penalty after the visitors scrum had come under huge pressure.
There were several scoring opportunities for both teams in the second half with Llanybydder improving as the half wore on but they were kept out by some resilient defending across the park by Cardigan but a second try finally arrived when Jones crossed and this was converted by Llyr Tobias to put the visitors within seven points.
Cardigan though kept their composure and managed to see the game out for a well deserved win.
This was a fine all round showing from a Cardigan team who have been through the mill at times this season. However Tudor Harries and his coaching team have managed to turn things around and there is a much healthier atmosphere on the field. Fly half Iwan John and full back Llyr Jones are now playing with confidence, young flanker Sion Phillips and his partner Owen are a real handful and there are the makings of a decent team in a year or two.
Probably not fair to single players out as this really was an all round squad effort against a team that are always difficult to put away but stand in skipper and number eight Osian Rees was outstanding as was the front row trio of Hughes, Fletcher and Will Brice.