A Muddy Good Match
The Dragons All-Stars first away trip might not have produced a winner, but it was definitely a success.
With just one match behind then, back in August, the All-Stars travelled to Burry Port to play the Llanelli Warriors.
The match survived the heavy overnight rain but both sides scorned wet weather, tactical rugby, and instead ignored the conditions to continually play with ball in hand. Whilst it might not have been the most sensible policy, it did produce and enjoyable match for both players and spectators.
The Dragons brought plenty of passion to the fixture as personified by a fired up by Connor Rice and it certainly wasn't a place for the faint hearted with loads of straight running and big hits. It was an even match throughout and with the mud helping the defence it was no surprise that neither side managed an early break through and soon apparent that every score would be critical. Iuan Nicholson had a strong debut for the Warriors, helping the lineout and producing some big runs, Tom Ashour and Callum Hodges had an interesting battle on the wing despite the heavy conditions whilst Dave Griffiths did well for the Dragons.
It took a long time for a score to come but eventually the Warriors went through enough phases that the gaps appeared and Lloyd Crowley strode over for the Warriors. The score brought no particular change in the game but the Dragons perhaps improved as the half went on. Dragons first points came from all action flanker Ryan Mahoney who bellied his inexperience to not only score but later be named Dragons Man of the Match.
The second half saw no let up in pace and there were no doubt some sore bodies afterwards. As the game drew towards the final quarter Gareth Sullivan cut through from centre to put the Dragons ahead. Time continued to tick away and when the Warriors put in a sweeping move but knocked on instead of scoring it seemed their chance might have gone. It took until the very last play of the game before Adam Davies was able to capitalise on an Adam Fussell break to score under the posts. Lock Darren Pollitt held his nerve with the crucial kick which scrapped over the bar to ensure honours were shared.
Neither side could complain with the result and so the rematch will be awaited with baited breath. The result was secondary though to the fine introduction to the rigours of rugby and it's hoped that on the back of this trip the Dragons will be able to establish themselves firmly as part of the Gwent rugby fraternity.
Llanelli Warriors: Dan John, Thomas Ashour, Adam Fussell, Johnathon Keanrey, Simon Day, Adam Davies, Gwilym Lewis (Craig James), Mark Lewis (Dai Haines), Jason Jenkins (Yanis Whitley), Richard Evans (Colin Tacon), Darren Pollitt, John Horwood (James Duke), Lloyd Crowley (Dan Grinter), Jordan Jones (Gareth Ladd), Iaun Nicholson
Dragons inc: Gareth Sullivan, Callum Hodges, Mark Hodges, Connor Rice, David Saunders, Ryan Mahoney, Gary James, Rob Nicholas, John Davies, Dai Haines, Jordan Jones, Gareth Ladd, James Duke.
Ref: Derrick Morgan
First a massive thanks to Burry Port RFC who were happy for the game to go ahead. After some typical meat market wrangling we managed to get two XVs on the field. Johnathon Kearney and Gwilym Lewis had to strap up significantly to play whilst both Adams and Iron Colin Tacon suffered bumps during the game. Luckily Lloyd Crawley turned down Connor's kind invitation to go off to the car park early on and some fine rugby was played despite the mud.
Afterwards the mutual respect was obvious and just to add to the day Wales triumphed over Australia to make sure everyone was pleased.