Moorland Park held some disappointing memories for Dinas. During the memorable 2014/15 season, it was the site of the Villagers’ only league defeat in a fiercely contested match that ended with 33-31 to the Old Illts. However, history was not to repeat itself. Just as the beaming late summer sunshine was a stark contrast to the rain of last week, so was the match compared to the previous encounter between the two teams.
Dinas dominate but can’t capitalise on territory
League newcomers the Old Illts, fresh from a defeat against Penarth seven days earlier, were keen to kick-start their home record against the visiting Villagers. Unfortunately, this match was not to end as they had hoped. From the outset, Dinas were on the front foot and quick out of the blocks. The Villagers kept the Illts penned within their own half for the majority of the first forty minutes.
Despite their territorial dominance, Dinas were unable to capitalise on their position. The visitors frequently cut the Illts defence to shreds only to fumble or spill the ball during contact. As frustrating as this was for the travelling supporters, it showed the flare and intent that this young team has for playing fast-paced running rugby.
As the pressure mounted so did the number of penalties against the home team. Sam Middelmiss got the scoring underway in the eighteenth minute with a successful penalty kick.
Dinas momentarily dropped their guard at the kickoff and the Illts were quick to exploit the opportunity, charging down the wing towards the visitors try line. Only a last-ditch tackle by forward Ryan Shallish prevented them from scoring.
Shallish was also instrumental in the Villagers’ next attacking move. A surging run by the athletic flanker saw him cross the gain line at pace. The home team’s scramble defence recovered and brought Ryan down but Dinas’ tails were up and his fellow forwards deftly cleared out the ruck, handing the backs quick possession. The ball moved through the hands until it reached Dai Lloyd. Again the Illts defensive line parted and Lloyd broke through but the promising move ended prematurely as the offload to Rhys Gambold didn’t go to hand. The pace of the game was clearly taking its toll on the home team who had three players strewn across the floor in the wake of Dinas’ attack.
Try as they might the Illts struggled to clear their lines as multiple clearance kicks to touch failed to make more than a handful of metres.
Dinas were not about to let up and they continued to apply pressure on the home team. In a desperate attempt to stem the attack, the Illts attempted to illegally use their hands to recover the ball at the ruck. Unfortunately, the official saw the infringement and decided that enough was enough. Brandishing a yellow card he dismissed the Illts number eleven from the field for the required ten minutes.
With the majority of the possession and now a player to the good, one would expect Dinas to stretch their lead. Alas, this was not the case as the Illts stood firm a defended their line resolutely.
At half-time (and still a man down) the Illts were just a single score behind.
Half-time: Old Illts 0 – 3 Dinas.
Illts come out firing but Dinas extinguish all hope
From the off the Old Illts appeared to have re-gathered, spurred on by the insignificant margin between the two teams. A superb move down the far touch-line was once again spoiled by the outstanding Dinas defence. The ball was quickly reclaimed and back in the hands of the visitors. Moments later the play was back in the opposition’s half. Just seven minutes after the restart, Sam Middlemiss extended the lead by a further three points via a penalty just outside of the Illts’ twenty-two.
Dinas never looked back from this point. On the fifty-third minute, the man of the match, Gaz Williams, crossed for the first of four tries by the Villagers. The conversion was a simple one and the margin grew to a more comfortable 13 points.
The host’s day was about to get worse; their three-quarter received his second yellow of the match, this time for a late tackle, and was dismissed from the field of play. Que the onslaught. Tries by Ryan Shallish, Corey Imperato and a last-minute interception by Mark Good (two of which Middlemiss converted) secured the win and the bonus point victory.
Although the final score of Old Illts 0 – 32 Dinas is flattering and no less than the young Dinas team deserve, there was a feeling that a significant number of opportunities had gone begging. That said, coaches John Dunleavy, Luke Gibbson and Wayne Parsons were delighted with the nine points from the opening two games of the season!