11:02pm Tuesday 6th May 2014
By Fraser Watson
Pembrokeshire Junior Union Cup Final:
Whitland 2nds 8-9 Crymych 2nds
A LATE penalty from Crymych outside half Sam Phillips secured his side the Junior Union Cup in a tight battle with Whitland at the Lewis Lloyd Memorial Ground in Narberth.
Phillips had already kicked two second half penalties as Crymych battled back from being 8-0 down at the break – and with the Borderers down to 14 men, secured victory with just four minutes left as he held his nerve from 20 metres out.
Whitland, who went in the game having won the trophy for the past four seasons, made the brighter start and full back James Stephenson was just off target with an early penalty from 40 metres out.
But with Shane Phillips probing constantly at outside half, and the wind at their backs, the Borderers continued to threaten and Stephenson made no mistake when presented with a second shot at goal.
Whitland second row Daf Walters then broke from deep inside his own half and chipped into touch just short of the Crymych line – but when the ball went loose from the ensuing lineout, flanker James Thomas knocked on as he tried to touch down over the line.
But the Preseli Men soon got a foothold in the game and went close when centre Aled Davies chipped into the path of winger Tomos Lewis, but his hack ahead was well covered by Stephenson.
Moments later Whitland centre Liam Price kicked ahead but Crymych second row Mike Llewellyn did well to get back and pounce on the loose ball – but was forced back over his line in the process. From the resultant scrum a heavy spell of pressure saw the Borderers grab the game’s only try – as No 8 Karl Williams linked with centre Anthony James to put winger Ian Thomas over in the corner.
Stephenson missed a chance to extend the lead when he was wide with a straight forward penalty from in front of the posts – and at the other end Crymych went close when they worked an overlap out wide but replacement centre Emyr Williams, on for the injured Martin Jones, spilled the ball in midfield.
The half ended with a melee as tempers flared - and Whitland prop Lee Williams was shown a yellow card by referee Matthew Evans.
The second half started at a furious pace as both sides showed willing to keep ball in hand and run quick tap penalties, and Whitland had the first opportunity when a drive by Walters set up James, but after he made ground down the left wing he was smothered by the cover defence.
But at the other end Crymych centres Davies and Williams combined well in midfield and after the Borderers infringed from the ensuing ruck – Phillips reduced the deficit to 8-3.
And it was Phillips who then went close with a jinking run after 55 minutes, following a good break by winger Rhodri Lewis, before being presented with another chance in front of goal which he duly goaled.
The Preseli Men began to get in the ascendancy in the final quarter and prop Andrew Fletcher intercepted Shane Morgan’s attempt to chip out of defence, but from the proceeding ruck Phillips span it wide but winger Lewis knocked on when trying to step the cover defence.
With six minutes left, Whitland again went down to 14 when prop Gethin Lewis was penalised for offside, and after Phillips kicked the resultant penalty into the corner, the Borderers infringed again when replacement flanker Matthew Owens came in from the side of a ruck.
Phillips landed the pressure penalty to put his side into the lead for the first time – although the Borderers tried to respond when Walters charged into the 22. But second row Sam James was sin binned for foul play to leave Whitland with 13 men – and the Preseli Men held out to complete a memorable season which has not only seen the capture the Junior Union Cup but also win the All Wales Sport League Division One title.
Whitland: James Stephenson, Aled Morgan, Liam Price, Anthony James, Ian Davies, Shane Morgan, Adam Davies (capt), Gethin Lewis, Lee Williams, Barry Jones, Sam James, Daf Walters, James Thomas, Mark Beasley, Karl Williams. Replacements: Aled Howells, Matthew McMillan, Matthew Owens, Charlie Preece, Ryan Thomas, Rob Howells.
Crymych: Aled Morgan, Rhodri Lewis, Martin Jones, Aled Davies, Tomos Lewis, Sam Phillips, Barry Davies, Matthew House, Martin Edwards, Andrew Fletcher, Cennydd James, Mike Llewellyn, Rhys Davies, Gareth Owen, Carwyn Lawrence. Replacements: Carwyn Rees, Rhys Mathias, Aled Scourfield, Mark Oakman, Andrew Thomas, Emyr Williams, Steffan Kurtz.
Referee: Matthew Evans.
Assistants: Jason Summers and Ross Grieve.
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