Tartan all round at Cardiff Arms
Warriors and Clan all square in prestigious match
Given the prestigious stage of Cardiff Arms Park on the Doddie Weir Foundation weekend, these two sides, representing their respective Unions, played out an enthralling contest to show that having a disability need not be a barrier to playing rugby.
Both sides look to give players with disabilities rugby opportunities and experiences and so playing as a curtain raiser to the full interntional with the Mixed Ability Doddie Weir Tartan Cup at stake certainly fitted the bill. The Warriors had been invited by the WRU to acknowledge their achivment of becoming the 1st mixed ability side to play 300 fixtures and there was some nice symetry to the fixture with the Warriors having been the Clan’s 1st ever opponents.
From the off it was obvious that this was a full bloodied contest with both sides using their forwards to try and gain mometum. In a mirror of the later international, Scotland controlled possession but found the organised Welsh defence hard to break down. The Warriors got the breakthrough when Nathan Lawson broke a tackle and found the defence too flat to stop him stride over.
The Warriors were badly disrupted by injuries with both centers having to leave the field and took time to readjust. Sean Lou found some space from a line out and raced over but the Warriors hit back when the forwards created room for scrum half Craig James to snipe over. The Clan continued to enjoy more possession though and they hit a purple patch late in the 2nd half. 1st James Dorrans powered through some soft tackling and then from the kick off a strong run from Sean Low took him through the defence. With Liam Deary adding the conversion the Warriors suddenly looked adrift.
Warriors Captain Richard Evans, making his 200th appearance worked hard to rally the troops and they managed to hold firm despite the Clan continuing to press. Whilst there was a lot of emphasis on forward play with the Clan’s Callum Kemp and Warrior Darren Pollitt prominent, the backs did have plenty of chances in a fast paced contest. Jordan Thompson looked dangerous whenever the Clan worked him the ball, whilst Simon Day had a couple of good runs on the Warriors wing. 10-17 to the Scottish at half time.
The 2nd half saw the game open out somewhat, prop Rhys Evans adding energy to the home team. The Warriors attacked hard down the right flank and twice looked likely to score but were caught by some fantstic defence. Just when it seemed the Scottish had contained the move, flanker Yanis Whitley popped up to scamper over and then add the conversion.
It was the Warriors who now looked to have the slight edge and when impressive wing Dan John strode over for a late score Welsh in the crowd began to think of victory. The Clan showed similar resolve to the Warriors at the end of the 1st half and regrouped. They pressed the Warriors defence hard and with time ticking Euan Sean sneaked through and veteran Paul Johnston made no mistake with the conversion.
Both sides threw everthing at the last few minute but to no avail. The Tartan Cup was shared after a contest fitting the occasion.
Llanelli Warriors: Tom Edwards, Kieron Morgan, Ben Winstanley (Ross Kirkpatrick), Johnathon Kearney (Dan Bryant), Simon Day, Jamie Evans, Craig James, Mark Lewis (Rhys Evans, Gareth Emery), Richard Evans (Jason Jenkins), Dylan Crolla (Dan Grinter), Darren Pollitt, Lloyd Crawley (Dai Haines), Jordan Jones (Yanis Whiteley, Nathan Lawson), Tomos Hall, Gwilym Lewis
Warriors Man of the Match: Yanis Whiteley
A great day for all. Massive thanks must go to the WRU and SRU for setting this up...