Pembrokeshire KO Cup Round 1: Milford Haven 22-24 Tenby United

First round KO Cup ties can be disjointed, one sided, and almost futile affairs – but not at The Obs last night where a late try from second row Huw Evans gave Tenby United a pulsating win over hosts Milford Haven.

Darkness had descended long before Evans went over in the corner just minutes after No 10 James Trueman had seemingly won it for The Mariners with a snap drop goal.

Even after the Evans try Milford, who had fought back from a 19-5 half time deficit, had chances to snatch it but The Seasiders held on after a dramatic second half that lasted almost 50 minutes.

It was the away side who had first use of the customary strong wind and they were helped by some early Milford indiscipline, with referee Colin Phillips twice marching them back 10 metres for dissent.

The Seasiders wasted chances at a close range lineout and scrum though and after the ball went loose in the 22 it was Steve Martin who hacked ahead to relieve the pressure.

And soon after it was The Mariners on the front foot and after flanker Dai Sweeny’s charge set the platform, winger Harry Wheeler finished well in the corner for an unconverted try.

Gradually Tenby made use of the elements though, and young outside half Harry Rossiter landed a simple penalty before putting his side in front with a more difficult attempt from out wide.

It was Rossiter’s long miss pass in midfield that then saw centre Ben Pugh cut through in midfield and he linked with winger Joe Owen before the Milford defence scrambled back.

But soon Rossiter kicked a third and then a fourth penalty and then from the final play of the half, came a seemingly decisive blow when the dangerous Pugh again found space and sped to the line from 30 metres out. Rossiter kept his 100% kicking record with the conversion and at 19-5, Tenby seemed in control at the break.

Early in the second half the pendulum swung back towards Milford though after skipper Dan Birch booted ahead and Sweeny did brilliantly to chase up and force a covering Jack Tucker into spilling possession. A penalty soon followed, with Tenby full back Shane Rossiter sin binned for killing the ball under his own posts, and The Mariners opted for a scrum from which Birch drew in two defenders and off loaded to No 9 Martin to score. Trueman converted.

And minutes later the scores were level after Milford No 8 Ryan Mansell picked up from a scrum and went on a charging run, and further carries from centre Dan Jenkins, Sweeny and Birch followed before Trueman popped a pass to half back partner Martin to again dive under the posts.

Trueman did the honours to make it 19-19.

At that point Milford were heading through on try count but it was the No 10 who then put them ahead on the scoreboard anyway, executing a snap drop goal from 25 metres out.

Tenby coach Jonathan Evans reacted by unloading the bench and with the clock ticking, and the light fading, a strong carry from flanker Andrew Cooke left the Milford defence scrambling and it was Evans who rounded off the pressure by going over from close range.

Rossiter’s wide angled conversion came back off the inside of post though and in a frantic finish, Trueman miscued another drop goal attempt from long range and Milford full back Jamie Lewis twice cut loose, only to be hauled down inches short each time by some desperate last ditch defence.

In the dying seconds The Mariners continued to batter away at the line only for Shane Rossiter to intercept a pass and go 50 metres upfield, and although he was caught by Lewis it proved the final play as referee Phillips called time on an enthralling tie.

  • Also last night, Fishguard went through courtesy of an 81-6 win over Llangwm at Pill Parks. The Wasps competed well early on as two Luke Hayman penalties meant they trailed just 12-6, but The Seagulls then cut loose. They finished with tries from centres Sion Rowlands (2) and Thomas George (2), full back Robbie Jones (2), prop Ryan McVeigh, hooker Gavin Walsh, winger Rhys Evans (2), flanker Chris Shousha (2) and replacement Jordan James. Mark Jones kicked eight conversions.

Milford Haven: Jamie Lewis, Harry Wheeler, Dan Jenkins, Dan Birch (capt), Gareth Cheshire, James Trueman, Steve Martin, Mike Cockburn, Luke Ryan, Adam Rees, Nathan Banner, Brandon Cooper, Zac Davies, Dai Sweeny, Ryan Mansell.

Replacements: Darren Lewis, Nathan Williams, Gareth Fawcett, Lee Riley, Jay Goodall.

Tenby United: Shane Rossiter, Jack Tucker, Ben Pugh, Jack Gooding, Joe Owen, Harry Rossiter, Dan Thomas, Ethan Morgan, Jim Brace, Rob Luly, Huw Evans, Luke Dedman (capt), Jack Brown, Andrew Cooke, Jack Broadhurst.

Replacements: Dan Allan, Wyndham Williams, Harry Bolton, Jimmy Davies, Dan Wainwright, Matt Davies.  

Referee: Colin Phillips.