12 April 2016 / Club News

Foxes book their place at the Principality Stadium


The foxes travelled West with the hopes and a great deal of expectation on the shoulders to reach their first ever Swalec finals day on May 1st. 


Loughor was to be the venue to host the semi final clash between the foxes and division 2 West Central side Cwmllynfell. Given the West walian outfit are a division below the foxes they were not to be underestimated after their quarter final victory over Division 1 West Whitland earlier in the week. 


Conditions were some what mixed, a swirling breeze that the kickers would  have to contend with coupled with the surface being slippery is parts. Nevertheless the players and crowd were blessed with some spring sunshine from the first minute of the contest to the last. 


The opening exchanges consisted of a number of errors from both sides. Neither side seemed to gain a foothold in the game that was being played out in the middle 3rd of the field. On the 10 minute mark the deadlock was broken, strong carries from lock forward partners Robson Blake and Gareth "Denver" Williams into the heart of the Cwmllynfell defence tied in a number of defenders creating a mis match down the right hand flank. After a number of phases on the Cwmllynfell line the pressure told and outside half Ben Grzesica powered his way over. He duly slotted over the conversion from out wide judging the tricky wind perfectly. This seemed to settle the Foxes as they began to gain the upper hand in the loose and the set piece. Against the run of play Cwmllynfell were awarded a penalty on half way. The penalty was drilled the ball between the uprights, This acted as an eye opener for the foxes who could not afford to give away any cheap penalties inside their own half as they could be punished. 


From the restart the Bedlinog pack rolled up their sleeves and went to work. The front row trio of Liam "Fatty" Jenkins, skipper Nathan Huish and Craig Davies all had a great day at the office, industrial in the loose and solid in the set piece, squeezing out penalties from the Cwmllynfell scrum at every opportunity. From a resulting penalty at the scrum, young full back Liam Jones produced a magnificent touch finder, setting his side up at the oppositions 5 metre line. Blindside flanker Aaron Harris "Chips & Beans" as he's known to many secured good lineout ball, only for Cwmllynfell to scupper the opportunity of the driving maul by splintering the foxes setup. Bedlinog regrouped and went through the phases before a great slip pass out the back door from skipper Huish to Grzesica, The outside half ghosted through the defence to find Denver in support to dive under sticks with one hand aloft, reminding me very much of Scott Gibbs on that famous day at Wembley in 99. Grzesica added the extras at the scored remained 14 - 3 until the interval. 


After the half time oranges young second row Robson Blake produced the moment of the match that shifted the momentum of the tie in Bedlinog's favour. At 6ft 4 and tipping the scales at well over 18 stone the young man posses incredible athleticism, it's clear the youngster has a bright future in front of him. From the restart Blake leapt high off his back foot to gather the ball in goalkeeper fashion, straight out of the Bruce Grobelaar textbook. The Cwmllynfell defenders beard down upon on him, as the he gathered himself the second rower took route one leaving a trail of would be tacklers in his wake. Galloping down field the youngster opted for the chip ahead, the Cwmllynfell defence scrambled well however their winger opted to take the ball dead with the big man bearing down on him. This piece of individual brilliance provided the Bedlinog pack the opportunity to turn the screw at scrum time. From the resulting scrum the man in the middle went under the sticks at the 1st time of asking, awarding the penalty try as the Cwmllynfell scrum could not take the pressure. Grzesica added the easy 2 stretching the lead to 21 - 3. 


With great credit to Cwmllynfell they rallied and a number of changes in the pack provided that spark and go forward they required to bring themselves back into the contest. A lapse of concentration from the foxes pack at scrum in their own 22 resulted in a penalty to the west wales side. They opted to pick up the tempo and strung some phases together, their endeavour was rewarded with a try under the posts making the score 21 - 10 with plenty of time left on the clock to mount a comeback. 


Bedlinog are fortunate to be able to call upon a number of experienced players within their ranks, Nathan Huish, Gareth Williams and Openside Gareth Davies just to name a few. Among others they are vital during pressurised environments to steady the foxes the ship. It was the veteran Openside who subsequently put the tie to bed, an over thrown lineout was gathered up by no.8 Andrew Murphy, who showed a deft little touch to put Davies in space and the Openside showed a clean pair of heels to get to the line from 40 yards out. Grzesica added the 2 making it 28 - 10 to the foxes. 


The fourth try seemed to knock the stuffing out of the west walians and the foxes sensed it, some great tactical kicking from scrum half Marcus Clyne and outside half Grzesica kept turning the Cwmllynfell pack of forwards. After a sustained period of pressure in the opposition half Bedlinog were rewarded with a penalty for hands in the ruck, remembering this was cup rugby the points were taken by Grzesica making the score 31 - 10 as the match moved into the final quarter. 


As the game moved into the latter stages, Bedlinog started to ring the changes with stalwart Richard Rees replacing Huish at hooker and Luke Morgan replacing Davies at Openside, two attacked minded individuals who would look to up the intensity even with every opportunity. Damon Pritchard also entered the contest replacing Gareth Williams in the engine room. Bedlinog seemed to grow in confidence and it was evident by the willingness of solid centre pairing James Powell and Tom Farr-Evans to spread the ball at every opportunity, looking to find the razor sharp Rhys Walker and Sam Farr-Evans on the wings. 


Ryan Thomas and Leigh Bennett entered the fray replacing Liam Jenkins and Craig Davies Respectively, both props put in a great shift and deserved their applause as they left the field. With a number of changes teams can sometimes to lose their sense of structure and direction, however the replacements stuck to the task at hand. The final try came from one of the impressive substitutes, Luke Mogran. The foxes setup a driving maul from a lineout on Cwmllynfell's 10 metre, the maul to powerful for the defence to withhold and Morgan burst through the middle of the maul into clear ground and cantered under the posts to seal the victory, full back Jones added the extras to make it 38 - 10 and that remained the final score until the final whistle blew. 


Full respect to Cwmllynfell they never gave up until the final whistle and their never say die attitude was something to be admired. All the best for the rest of the season. 


The foxes have now penned in a date with either league rivals Penallta or division 1 west central table toppers Skewen on May 1st at the Principality Stadium. Penallta play Skewen this coming Saturday at Llanharran RFC to decide which side will meet the foxes in Cardiff on Swalec finals day. 


A special mention to all the supporters that travelled down to Loughor this past Saturday, each player and member of the back room staff would like to thank you for the effort, it does really make a difference. we hope to see you all on May the 1st in Cardiff. 


This now sets up an incredible end to the season for the foxes, they are still in the hunt for the division 1 east crown and are in the semi finals of the silver ball, this is a testament to the quality within the club to be within a shout on all 3 fronts. 


The foxes have a massive month ahead of them, one that I'm sure each player, coach and fan will remember. 


The Foxes. 

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