The ‘Villagers’ show ‘grit’ to come from behind
The match at away to St Peters produced a tense contest with a dramatic finale that tested the durability of the large number of travelling supporters.
The newly promoted ‘Villagers’ maintained their try average from last season, outscoring their hosts by five tries to three and could have snatched victory with the final kick of the game. However the final score provides little indication of the tense eighty minutes preceding the final whistle when even gaining a losing bonus point looked unlikely as the visitors trailed by seventeen points with just ten minutes remaining. The spirit and determination of the side prevailed as they scored three late tries in quick succession to gain a well-deserved draw but agonisingly missing out on victory and the maximum five league points.
A physical encounter saw the ‘Rocks’ gain early dominance as the ‘Villagers’ struggled to gain possession and release their exciting three-quarters. And when the ball was won, the backline lacked cohesion as scoring passes were dropped and after half an hour coach John Dunleavy would have been content to be only three points behind at 6-3.
The crowd gathered would not have expected the rest of the game to result in an average point a minute after the tense and error filled start to the contest.
Stunning interplay between the Dinas backs and forwards saw wing James Smith beat two defenders before passing to centre Ciaran Driscoll who drew the opposition before the ball was gathered by Huw Thomas. The superb second row carried and drove before half backs Sam Middlemiss and Ben White freed centre Johnny Morris who dummied and fended for the try.
The visitors appeared to be gaining control but a spilt pass was gathered by Philip Pariyo, the home team left wing and the Ugandan Commonwealth Games 7’s representative, who showed great skill and pace to score a fine individual try. With the conversion sailing between the uprights the score progressed to 13-8 and the game seemed to be meandering towards half time. However a dubious penalty was awarded to St. Peters in the dying moments of the first half. The ball stuck the upright and fell back to earth just metres from the Dinas line. During the ensuing melee the ball was knocked forward and over the ‘Villagers’ line by the opposition. Despite the obvious forward trajectory of the ball, and to the astonishment of the defending players, the official awarded the try as a Rocks player fell onto the ball. With the easiest of conversions added the ”Rocks” led by 20-8 at half-time.
The start of the second half saw the home side start powerfully, buoyed by their lead. A series of driving mauls were well defended by the ‘Villagers’ however the referee deemed an offence and the home side kicked the penalty to extend their lead to 23-8.
The defensive effort took its toll as fly half Ben White left with a broken nose and second row Dan O’Donnell departed with a leg injury. The visitors were stung into action and strong carries by props Andrew O’Mallia, Caleb Robinson and replacement Corey Imperato took Dinas to within 5 metres of the home try line. The ball was passed from the base of the ruck by Middlemiss to replacement Gavin Cooper, there were groans from the crowd as he opted to kick across field. However number 8 and captain Josh Dunleavy was loitering on the right wing and, showing deft footballing skills, trapped the ball under foot before gathering and passing inside to brother Lewis Dunleavy who crossed for an unconverted try, 23-13.
The tempo of the game had increased and the villagers were rampant. From the restart they made their way up field with stunning interplay, and as an additional try seemed inevitable. A further pass went astray and was gathered by home centre Stuart Griffiths who sprinted a full ninety metres to score the try. The conversion was added from the touchline and the table had turned completely as the home side led by 30-13.
Sleeves were metaphorically rolled up and in a thrilling conclusion to the game. A try was added by Huw Thomas which was converted by Cooper. Further changes were made and replacement centre Bryn Evans made an immediate impact as he straightened the line and then supported co-centre Driscoll to cross for a debut try.
With time running out, Dinas Powys ran the ball from all positions. It aptly fell to captain Josh Dunleavy to cross for the Villagers fifth try that levelled the score at 30 all.
Two points for a draw and one bonus point for scoring more than four tries allowed the men from Dinas Powys to gain three league points from the contest.
Dinas Powys welcome Abercynon to the Common on Saturday September 12th for a 2.30 kick off.