SILVER BALL QUARTER FINAL
Glamorgan Wanderers Memorial Ground
Rhiwbina found themselves top of the Silver Ball League following an unbeaten run of 10 games in the qualifying session and as a result played Div 3 Leaders Heol y Cyw who have only lost one game in their League all year. The Squirrels had not featured in this competition for over 16 years and were the firm underdogs but as one of only 2 sides to win all their League games in Wales this season the smaller side really fancied their chances of a big upset.
The team were really fired up and despite the pink decor in the changing rooms they went out onto the pitch in confident mood.
The game was evenly balanced in the early exchanges but Rhiwbina showed glimpses of the 15 man rugby they have played all season and almost got in on a few occassions. The Heol Y Cyw team relied on their jumbo pack who were huge in comparison to our eight and won 2 penalties in the first 30 minutes that the equally large Heol outside half slotted over to take an early lead 6-0.
Rhiwbina then took the game to our opponents and Heol were forced to concede a penalty under the posts after a great break by Salty that also earned them a yellow card. Salty slotted it over to make it 6-3. Rhiwbina upped the pace again and attacked our opponents and Royston put in a perfect pass to split the defence and put Mark Lee in for a super try-the first of the game-that Salty converted making it 6-10 for the Squirrels. Gerkin kept directing the Rhiwbina 8 and probing the blindside and he and Salty kept pinning the Heol side back with solid touchfinders.
A great last gasp cover tackle from Gavin stopped a sure fire breakaway try from Heol in the last minute of the first half and just kept us in the lead.
The second half opened up with some great rugby from the Squirrels who began running their bigger rivals off their feet and attacked from everywhere. A length of the field wonder try from Ed Hampson and an equally fantastic try from inspirational Captain Gavin Harris put the underdogs 22-6 in the lead. Our back row of Ed, Ben and Gavin were different class tonight and first to everything and tackled their hearts out-the best back row performance of the season by far! The number of turnovers they gained in the tackle was unbelievable!
A injury to prop James Huntley led to Mike Williams coming on as a replacement just after half time and a further injury to Ed Hampson led to Huw Neale coming on as replacement flanker -but only for 45 seconds -as he got a yellow card for going over the top and Heol then threw everything at us and got 2 quick tries and a conversion to have us reeling and the game getting too close for comfort at 18-22.
Only some superb last gasp cover tackles from Dave Brockway amongst others kept them getting another score!
Our backs began running back at Heol and Coops, Silva and Beal got through and behind their opposite numbers to get us back on the front foot. Silva got cramp and was replaced by Jon Brinkworth.
It was then that the character of this side shone through and even down to 7 men in the pack they took the game to Heol Y Cyw and forced them back onto their own tryline with a series of powerful driving lineouts that Heol could only stop illegally and led to their big No 8 getting a yellow and out of the rest of the game. Heol were now creaking in the scrum and losing their own ball led by Vanny, Roy and Mouse and had no answer to the Squirrels lineout. Rhys and Duggy kept up the pressure in the engine room and we kept turning the screw until the game was wrapped up in the last 5 mins and with Pumpkin back on we got an unconverted try through Roy Pesticcio from a series of fantastic lineout drives that sucked the life out of our opponents. In the closing minutes Heol could not get from their own tryline and Rhiwbina ran out deserved winners 18-27 and got a big Div 3 scalp to boot!
Fantastic team performance - the Brian ELLEND man of the match award goes to the back row- Ed, Ben and Gav-simply awesome!
Brilliant support from the travelling Rhiwbina faithful who braved the Arctic conditions and were the extra man when the side were struggling in the second half and this now puts us in the Silver Ball semi final v Penallta and we are also in the semi final of the East District Cup v Llanishen.
This has been by far the best season in recent Rhiwbina RFC history-the players have rightfully deserved their success!
We have Penygraig away Saturday in the last League fixture of the season and hope to make it 18 out of 18 wins!
Come on the Squirrels!!!!!