Thursday, 10 April 2014

Silver Ball SF: Glynneath 18-17 Ystrad Rhondda

Glynneath remain on course to claim the Silver Ball for a record fifth time, after the One West leaders produced a dominant second half to end Ystrad Rhondda’s Cup bid, at Aberavon’s Talbot Athletic Ground.

Ystrad led 17-13 at the interval, but a second half touchdown from Stuart Leach ensured Glynneath were celebrating at the final whistle.

With Glynneath facing One East pacemakers Merthyr on Saturday, in the Swalec Plate semi-final Coach David Puckett rotated his squad, but the backs still oozed quality even if their scrum creaked at times.

There were standout performances on both sides with forwards Leach and David Jones working tirelessly in the loose for Glynneath, while replacement scrum-half Rhodri Cole added some nous to their game. For Ystrad, centre Dano Roberts was dynamic in attack, while back row Liam Davies was a handful.

On a beautiful spring evening both sets of players embraced the perfect conditions as they looked to run the ball from deep.

Ystrad’s full back Dai Gratton booted his side into an early lead but Glynneath hit back with 13 unanswered points.

Two penalties from Corey Jenkins nudged the One West outfit ahead. The first try came shortly after-  pressure from a line-out five metres out saw the ball recycled, with wing Ryan Llewellyn latching onto Jenkins’ dink pass in mid field to scythe through the opposition defence. Jenkins added the simple extras for a 13-3 advantage.

Glynneath’s lead didn’t last long though, as Ystrad produced the move of the match to cut their deficit. Pinball centre Roberts started the move with a great break, his pass finding Alex Webber before the Wales 7s star offloaded to Ryan Howells on his inside with the centre finishing well.

Momentum was now most definitely with the Gelligaled outfit- Roberts was a constant threat while the Ystrad forwards began to turn the screw at the scrum.

Five minutes before the interval Ystrad hit the front- a powerful run up the guts of the Glynneath defence from Liam Davies saw the No 8 drive into the opposition 22.

With the Glynneath defence in disarray, the ball was shipped wide with Gratton sending Roberts over. Rhys Truelove once again slotted the extras as they took a 17-13 advantage into the break.

After the interval, Glynneath returned rejuvenated but they struggled to break down a resilient Ystrad defence.

Referee Wayne Davies was called into action to diffuse the situation several times, as a few less than legal tackles began to slip into the game.

As play approached the hour mark, David Puckett’s troops were inching closer to making the breakthrough, with scrum-half Ben Jones and Leach both held up just short.

However, after several intense minutes of pressure the whitewash was finally breached with Leach burrowing over. Jenkins missed the conversion as Glynneath took the slenderest of advantages into the final ten minutes.

It was now the Neath Valley side's turn to come under some pressure but they snuffed out a number of Ystrad attacks. The introduction of Cole at scrum-half also saw Glynneath produce some intelligent play with a few delightful chips to the corner saw Ystrad pinned into their own half.

The best Ystrad chances came through crossfield kicks, on two occasions Truelove spotted space on the openside but the bounce on each occasion evaded the desperate Gwerwyn Davies as Glynneath’s Dan Brynley welcomingly mopped up.

The final few minutes of the match were intelligently played out by Glynneath, as the forwards kept it tight deep in the Ystrad half with Cole kicking the ball dead as Davies’ final whistle was drowned out by the jubilant Glynneath faifthful.

For Glynneath the dream of going a whole season undefeated lives on for another 80 minutes and they will run out at the Brewery Field on May 17 against either Ystalyfera or Rhiwbina, with the second semi-final due to be played on April 23 at Mountain Ash.

Meanwhile, Ystrad return to league action this weekend when they travel to face fellow highfliers Ynysybwl.


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