11 April 2018 / Club News


Porthcawl, having reached the Bowl final the week before, faced another stern test on Saturday as they visited League leaders Birchgrove on a rather miserable afternoon weather-wise.

This was always going to be a challenge but with the Seaweeds seven matches in hand over Birchgrove, the win was crucial. Full-back Ben Thomas got the visitors off to a great start when he slotted a35 metre penalty for 0-3 after just seven minutes play. He followed this up minutes later with a brilliant catch of an attacking kick by the home side, transferring the ball to flanker Owen Thomas but the promising move finally came to grief with a dropped pass.

Birchgrove are not a big side, however their strong and committed pack soon set out its stall with a driving game that drew the very best of out of Porthcawl’s defensive qualities. It wasn’t pretty stuff, with the home backs having to play a bit part save for the odd time that the ball found its way out wide and the Seaweeds were under the cosh in having to keep the defensive line intact for long periods.

The half-time score of just Thomas’ penalty to nil was truly reflective of just what a tough and attritional half it had been, with the wet conditions making a handling game much more difficult, although this is where Porthcawl were likely to need the upper hand in the second half to win the match.

The home side got back on terms pretty smartly with a penalty from 32 metres from fly-half Dan Evans, before Jon Phillips, at fly-half for Porthcawl with Josh white out injured, fed Ben Thomas cutting through with 4 on 2 but he cut back inside. However, Birchgrove fell offside at the ensuing ruck and Thomas popped over his second penalty for 3-6. The home side’s appetite for in your face Rugby, taking the ball and driving up the middle showed no signs of abating in this second spell and when their chance for getting back on terms transpired, the penalty kick was so well off target it found its way to Porthcawl wing Jake Thomas just 10 metres from his own line. In a move that led to the turning point in the match, he broke out of defence with a startling run up the left touchline, before handing on to centre Gareth Rees who took the ball and earned a penalty for a further home infringement. Phillips kicked to the touchline for another Porthcawl lineout and from the resultant clean ball following the catch and drive, the ball again ended up with Phillips who produced an outstanding break to carve clean through the stunned home defence and cross for a super try, goaled by Thomas for 3-13, effectively the score that secured the spoils.

To their credit Birchgrove fought tooth and nail to the end, however their efforts came to grief upon the rock of Porthcawl’s defence and the Seaweeds ran out worthy winners in the end. The Porthcawl pack was sound throughout, despite weathering some difficult passages against a determined Birchgrove scrum and this et the platform for Phillips and Co. to do their job behind the scrum.

With several matches to catch up on, Porthcawl travel to Swansea Uplands on Wednesday before welcoming Neath Athletic to South Road on Saturday, aiming for the double over both those sides in the hunt for crucial league points that would see them closing the gap. The run-in for what remains of the season will require total focus to get the job done.

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