Determined Dinas secure away win thanks to second-half comeback
8:10am Thursday 11th October 2012 in Sport
TONNA 22 DINAS POWYS 24
IN this dismal period of weather, it is ironic that yet another Saturday was blessed with sunshine.
The hosts, celebrating their 125th anniversary this season, defended the kick off from Gaffyn Cooper and an enthralling encounter was set to unfold before the gathered crowd.
Dinas dominated the early exchanges with a scintillating 50 metre return of a kick by right wing James Smith, who raced across the heavy muddy surface before passing back inside, and the ball went smoothly along the line to left wing Mark Goode who was dragged down just short of the tryline.
The tempo was set and the Villagers pressed for the opening score. Fly half Cooper kicked the ball to the corner and right wing Smith gathered the kick and outpaced the defence to score in the corner.
The Villagers were rampant and Tonna hardly touched the ball in this opening period. The home team however gathered themselves, and dominated the rest of the half.
There were no obvious reasons for this as the elements appeared to favour neither side; but the hosts scored three tries in the first half as the Villagers were pinned into their own half, unable to free themselves. Tonna, blessed with a bulky pack, drove forward remorselessly through a series of rolling mauls before releasing their threequarters.
Poor tackling combined with the greasy surface saw the home centre on a switch move crash over under the posts, and with the try converted the home side led 7-5. Their lead was increased as a penalty was conceded, followed by a try for the home left wing following a series of 5 metre scrums.
So after a quarter of an hour Tonna had a healthy 15-5 lead.
The restart following the try saw energetic flanker Morgan Williams gather the ball and drive deep into the opposition 22. The penalty was drawn from the defenders and kicked by Cooper and the Villagers edged back into the contest, now trailing 15-8.
The remaining 20 minutes of the half were dominated by Tonna with only occasional respite, such as when centre Dai Lloyd ripped the ball from an opponent in the tackle and set forth on a mesmeric 50 metre run downfield.
The half was drawing to a close and the defensive blue line still held firm against the onslaught of the home side. It was therefore a huge disappointment for the Villagers that they conceded a try with the final play of the first half. The obligatory driving maul following a lineout slid over in the corner, and with a difficult conversion added, the half time score stood at 22-8.
Coach Andy Vesey made tactical changes, altering the position of three of the players already on the field and changing tactics on the opposition lineout throw. These, added to the withdrawal of the excellent second row Alex Smith through injury to be replaced by Gareth "Banjo" Williams, were to have quite an effect as the home side were deprived of a single score in the second half.
The remainder of the game was dominated by Dinas, and in a tense contest that was to test the wellbeing of their ageing committee, it was a matter of whether the men from the Vale could score the necessary points against a committed and well drilled home side.
The Villagers' scrum gained the upper hand during this period and the gnarly front row of Mike Jones, Lloyd Horwood and Tom Paterson had a crucial impact as they disrupted the opposition scrum.
The back row were now first to the loose ball and the defensive lineout work of pack leader and number 8 Nick Veggas proved decisive in the second half transformation.
Powerful breaks from Smith and Goode supported by Kieron Spear allowed the visitors to gain field position, and an attacking scrum allowed inspirational captain Nathan Williams to pick up from the base and score the try that started the comeback.
The pressure on the home defence was intense and a series of offences allowed Cooper to kick a penalty that reduced the deficit to 22-16.
The final quarter was a tense affair with the Villagers pressing for the victory. The heavy pitch and greasy ball did not suit their expansive intent but again and again they tried to weave their way through the Tonna defence.
Then a massive tackle from indomitable flanker Lewys John dislodged the ball from an opponent's grip, Fellow flanker Morgan Williams was on the loose ball like a flash and passed the ball to centre Lloyd who darted through the defence, ball in two hands, before drawing the defender and passing to co-centre Evans who outpaced the defence to score in the left corner.
The difficult conversion was just wide and a frantic final ten minutes ensued as the Villagers tried to overturn the home side's 22-21 lead. The Dinas forwards gathered the restart and were off again into opposition territory, and sniping runs by Nathan Williams, Smith and Lloyd were just short of the crucial score.
The waves of blue smashed at the Tonna line and with minutes remaining, the home side had to offend to stop Lloyd scoring a certain try. Many a travelling supporter could hardly watch as Cooper stepped forward to attempt the testing kick - but their fears were groundless as he coolly slotted the decisive score.
The final whistle blew soon afterwards and another away victory was gained by this exciting, youthful side.