Words: Ian Golden Pic: Siwan Williams
Rhondda Outlaws lost their grip on the Welsh title in as they went down 40-10 at Aberavon Fighting Irish in an exciting semi-final match.
However the 30-point margin was an imbalance to the quality of the game, as the Outlaws were still in the contest right up until the final 15 minutes, as at that point, the score was 16-10.
In fact, the first half was two tries all. Aberavon scored from Nanthawat Naonan and Iestyn Williams-Jones, both of which were converted by Aaron Lewis, which Macauley Harris scored both of Rhondda’s tries with Chris Harris kicking one goal, to put the half-time score onto 12-10.
Naonan scored his second try early in the second half before a titanic battle for over 20 minutes with no-one able to break each other’s defence.
But after a Connor O’Callaghan try, converted by Dylan Agar, at last extended Aberavon’s lead, the floodgates opened. Jack Davies scored a hat-trick of tries in the final ten minutes, two of which were converted by Lewis and one by O’Callaghan to seal a second successive Grand Final for Aberavon.
South Wales Jets kept up their one hundred percent record this season after beating Bridgend Blue Bulls 35-26 at Merthyr Tydfil in another thrilling semi-final.
However, they were given an early scare when the experience Bridgend side took an early lead through a Dylan Rees-Davies try that was converted by Corey Harris.
Jets were soon level. Dean Higgs went over for their first with Mike Hurley converting.
And by the half-hour, they were 18-6 up. Alex Langworthy and Craig Lewis both grounded with Paul Emanuelli converting well each time.
Their lead was slightly increased by the internal. Rhys Thomas pulled a try back that Harris couldn’t convert, but right on the hooter, Lewys Willacott ran over with Emanuelli again adding the extras to put the score onto 24-10.
An uncoverted Alex Langworthy try further increased Jets’ lead early in the second half but an 18-point lead was far from comfortable. Tries from Llewellyn Hawkes on 52 minutes and Dylan Rees-Davies on 72 minutes, both converted by Harris, brought it back to a one-try game.
But Jets weren’t going to be denied. As soon as they regained the ball, they scored. Matthew Jacobs’ try, coupled with Emanuelli’s conversion put the lead back to 12-points. Emanuelli kicked a drop-goal to secure things.
Bridgend did have the last say with a Stuart Robson try but it was Jets who were doing the celebrating.