Division Three West A: Neyland 29–23 Llangwm

A local derby signified by full blooded commitment – and fair to say Johnny James would have loved every minute of it.

Other than the result that is, as Neyland took the win over Llangwm after a late try from flanker Owain Evans that capped a game, and indeed a week, that showcased the better side of local rugby.

The death of the former hooker sparked mass tributes and condolences from rugby clubs around Pembrokeshire, and before kick-off both sets of players and a large crowd paid their respects with a minute of silence.

The build up was made even more poignant by the fact that this week four-year-old Eliza Scriven, the granddaughter of Llangwm committee member Richard, had gone through a life changing operation following a monumental fundraising effort from the family and local community.

“I can’t thank everybody enough for their support and this week has shown how strong the Pembrokeshire rugby and sporting family can be,” said Scriven before kick off.

“As soon as I walked in the club today people were coming up to me to ask how Eliza was and say how sorry they were about Johnny.”

A scrappy start:

Indeed, James would have no doubt have thrived in a scrappy opening period.

Luke Hayman, playing opposite brother Toby at No 10, landed an early penalty from out wide for Llangwm but, balls went loose and both sides struggled to get their lineout functioning - before Neyland fashioned the first real spell of pressure.

Two times skipper George Williams opted against taking three points from close range penalties as the hosts banged away on the line and although a thumping hit from away centre Louis Murphy seemed to thwart things – he was called offside and duly yellow carded.

And eventually the try came when a run around move in midfield saw winger Ben Goodridge dive over in the corner to make it 5-3.

All Blacks in the ascendancy:

Another Luke Hayman penalty edged The Wasps back in front but from the kick off, the visitors turned over possession and paid the price as another Neyland attack resulted in prop Luke Griffiths-Dawes getting an unconverted try.

Murphy returned to the field only for centre Yale Grice to then also get sin binned and again, the All Blacks took advantage with No 8 Ben Williams going over to make it 15-6 at half time.

See-saw second half:

The pendulum swung early in the second half though as away scrum half Joseph Kiff executed a kick and chase to score, and another five pointer duly followed when Murphy broke from 40 metres out and managed to hand off three would be tacklers to make it 15-16.

Back came Neyland as returning centre Tom Hughes side stepped through a gap in midfield to go under the posts, Hayman converting – but The Wasps went a point ahead again when the other Hayman picked up from a close range ruck for a try he goaled himself.

It stayed that way until five minutes from time, until a series of Neyland mauls and forward drives culminates in Iestyn Evans showing neat hands to set up younger brother Owain to score – and Toby Hayman converted to round off a pulsating derby.

A derby perhaps, best summed up by Neyland team manager Peter Davies.

“This was a great advert for grassroots rugby,” he said.

“Both sides gave everything and it was a game that went back and for.”

Neyland: Adam Cawley, Henry McBeth, Tom Hughes, George Williams, Ben Goodridge, Toby Hayman, Jack Richards, Luke Griffiths-Dawes, Jack Harries, Chad Monk, Steve Hamer, Mark James, Iestyn Evans, Owain Evans, Ben Williams. Replacements: Mark Riley, Steve Evans, Craig Power, Richard Banner, Sam Hadley.

Llangwm: Jamie Lewis, Daniel Morgan, Yale Grice, Louis Murphy, Ewan Griffiths, Luke Hayman, Jo Kiff, Will Scriven, Phil Llewellyn, Ieuan Power, Dave Reynolds, Steven Rees, Jamie Lewis, Ian Griffiths, Jason Mock. Replacements: James Griffiths, Spencer Rourke, Matthew Lewis, Gethin Thomas, Gavin Jones.

Referee: Steffan Anderson.