DINAS POWYS 36 ST JOSEPHS 6
THE THREAT of rain had abated prior to kick off, averting the need for coaches Andy Vesey and Richard 'Chunks' Boyland to don their all-in-one wet weather gear.
The dark clouds, however, hung metaphorically over the Common as an injury-ravaged Villagers' side took to the field, with 12 squad players unavailable for selection.
The visitors had won the away fixture in October by 32-27 and the depleted Villagers knew that they had a tough game on their hands against the Cardiff side who are always difficult opponents.
Although sunny and dry, the weather was to have an impact on the contest as the gusty conditions made many aspects of rugby football more awkward than normal.
The visitors from St Jo's won the toss and to the surprise of many, decided to play into the wind in the first half, therefore it was the Villagers that kicked off with the gale at their backs.
The coaching staff had warned against long passes in such conditions, but the youthful confidence amongst the talented home threequarters meant that they decided to try a few such passes anyhow, with the predicted result.
The St Jo's front row were enormous and the home side's opposite numbers were not impressed with the forward passes and knock ons that produced a series of scrums that forced them to lock horns with their much heavier opponents.
The early minutes were therefore error filled and frustrating for player and spectator alike. The elements ensured that the game was played in the visitors half and St Jo's first incursion into the Dinas half saw them awarded a penalty, to open the scoring after 12 minutes.
The players were now adjusting to the conditions and the quality of play was improving accordingly. The visitors were using their large props as ball carriers for three or four drives before moving the ball to their strong running centre who would crash the ball upfield before repeating the process again.
These are commendable tactics playing into a strong wind and tested the resolve of the Villagers' defence. Foremost in this effort was the superb back row unit of Morgan 'Shadow' Williams, Lewys John and Nick 'Las' Vaggas who were to produce an effort that ensured their tryline was to remain intact throughout the afternoon.
A well balanced unit comprising of three individuals that complement each other, the combative fearless John, the ball carrying Vaggas and the pace of Williams.
The counter rucking mounted by this unit allowed Williams to win turnover ball deep in the visitors half. He fed fly half David Lloyd who moved the ball onto strong running centre Mark Good, who broke through the defence before passing to right wing Mike 'Whitey' Janes who ran strongly for the final 20 metres and crashed over for the opening try in the corner.
The elements ensured that the conversion was almost impossible and the Villagers led by 5-3 after the completion of the first quarter of the contest.
The home side extended their lead 5 minutes later when from a scrum just inside the St Jo's half, scrum half Adam Williams made a probing run before finding his half back partner Lloyd who passed left to centre John 'Evo' Evans to cleverly evade the potential tackler before passing to co-centre Good, who raced over near the posts to score the try.
With Lloyd adding the conversion Dinas progressed to a deserved 12-3 lead.
The restart was caught by flanker Morgan Williams who raced 30 metres downfield before being tackled, and referee Mark Hibbs adjudged that the supporting players had gone off their feet and awarded the penalty to the visitors. With the kick successful the score stood at 12-6.
The referee was consistent in his interpretation of the laws and allowed advantage to develop whenever he could and provided a steady hand on the whistle that allowed an exciting game to develop.
The Villagers were again forced to defend and solid tackles from Mark 'Frame' Good and David Lloyd ensured that the visitors' attacks were snuffed out. The defensive effort was the foundation on which this victory was based and the visitors struggled to throw off the shackles of the home tacklers.
Strong counter rucking allowed Dinas to gain a scrum on half way and from the base Vaggas picked up and fed scrum half Adam Williams who handed off and crashed his way on a 40 metre run to within inches of the visitors tryline.
Morgan Williams lived up to his nickname of 'Shadow' and was on hand to go over the tryline but was unable to ground the ball for the score.
The respite was short-lived as from the resulting solid scrum number 8 Vaggas picked up and fed Adam Williams who dummied before crossing for the try which Lloyd converted, and with barely time for the restart the half time score stood at 19-6.
The visitors would have the strong wind blowing down the Common towards the village behind them in the second half and the question among the sages on the touchline was whether the 13 point lead was enough.
The half time team talk of Vesey was for the back three to hang back in expectation of the visitors kicking for position and to be alert to taking quick throws to negate the need for fully formed lineouts, thus preventing the visitors using their bulky forwards to roll forward the resulting maul.
The reality of the second half was that the visitors hardly left their half as a superb forward effort saw the Villagers dominate possession and prevent St Jo's using the elements to gain their own good field position. Indeed the visitors were not allowed to score in the second half due to a proud performance from the men in blue and gold .
The Dinas Powys scrum was starting to gain the upper hand as the front row of Mike Jones, Dave Good and skipper Tom Paterson, with the weight from the hefty boiler room of Tim Ursell and Wes Tokalon, began to disrupt the visitors' scrum, preventing the visiting half backs having the time to effectively clear their lines.
The Dinas back three were running back kicks with aplomb and full back Nick Coles was making inroads with his pace and balanced running. One such break saw him pass to man of the match Mark Good who made another powerful run before feeding Evans who drew a defender before passing back to Good.
The quality of the play was high as the Villagers sought the bonus-poin-gaining fourth try. The St Josephs defence was desperate but still holding firm, but the pressure was relentless and an arcing run from Morgan Williams was considered by those in the corner to have produced a try, but ref Hibbs in perfect position, decided he was in touch.
The Villagers were rampant and playing scintillating rugby, and strong carries by Ursell and Tokalon took the ball to within inches of scoring before back rowers Williams and John combined to feed fly half Lloyd who drew the defender to allow right wing Tom Chapman to squeeze in at the corner after an hour of play and take the score to 24-6.
The Villagers soon added a fifth try, which was an excellent team try as Mark Good ran strongly from his own 22 feeding Lloyd and on to Evans who transferred to replacement Sonny Driscoll to put Coles in at the right corner for 29-6.
The visitors, stunned by the quality of the Dinas performance, galvanised themselves into further effort and appeared certain to score a try when their bulky loose head prop crashed over.
Scrum half Williams ripped the ball from his grasp and ran the length of the pitch carrying all in front of him to score a try in the shadow of the posts. Sam Alderman, returning from serious injury, was sportingly allowed by Lloyd to kick the conversion and the score progressed to 36-3.
The scoring completed, with six tries all scored by threequarters, and a bonus point win achieved, but the highlight of the afternoon was still to unfold as St Josephs sought a consolation try.
The speedy visitors' full back burst out from his own 22 and made good ground crossing half way before being hauled down by Coles.
The team spirit of this present Villagers side was displayed as even though the game was won, they arrived back in numbers to turn over the ball and snuff out the danger. One of the the first at the breakdown was bulky tighthead Mike Jones, proving the athleticism and commitment of this jovial renowned scrummager.
This attitude has been a major factor in the Villagers winning seven of their last eight matches and truly climbing the league table.
The international break means no league matches until March 24 with the away game at Deri.