WEST WALES 38
NORTH WALES 24
Ian Golden at Tata Sports Ground. Pic: Catrin Golden.
In a competitive encounter that showed off Welsh regional rugby league at its finest, West Wales came back from 24-12 down to win 38-24 and take the WRL Senior Origin trophy for the first time since it became a three-way contest.
Both sides had beaten East Wales in previous weeks setting up this decider which didn’t disappoint.
Brandon Lamb nearly had a dream start to his North Wales debut after a strong run down the centre but was stopped in his tracks.
West scored on their first attack as Alex Burton dived under the sticks. Chris Harris converted.
Lloyd Pritchard was also stopped as he looked for West’s second and they were made to pay as from the resulting scrum, his opposite number Jack Redmond slipped down the wing to score. Ryan Griffiths couldn’t convert.
Handling errors were costing each side a potential second try, but it was a good tackle that prevented Jacon Purcell from increasing West’s lead just before the break, being pushed into touch as he dived for the line.
The game should have swung in North’s favour as Lewys Blayney was sent off for a high tackle, but it was an error that gifted North their second try, three minutes before half-time, as Alfie Matthias leapt on a loose ball to score. Will Lynch sliced the kick wide.
There was still time for Matthias to sprint half the length of the field to get his second and North’s third. Griffiths converted to give North a 14-6 lead at the break.
They extended it six minutes into the second half when Sion Jones slipped through and Griffiths converted.
West hit back straight away as debutant Conor O’Callaghan pushed off his markers to score. Corey Harris converted again and the hosts were back in the game.
An unconverted try from Andrew McLorie increased North’s lead to 24-12 but again West addressed the balance, this time through Jake Price that Corey Harris converted.
From kick-off, Corey Harris ran over for a try of his own, but couldn’t convert, leaving North just two points ahead.
West were now on fire. Jacob Purcell finished off an outstanding passing move by scoring in the corner. Chris Harris failed to convert but West were back in the lead.
And again from kick-off, West scored again. Scott Whitlock zoomed past the tired North Wales line to score under the posts with Chris Harris converting.
Whitlock repeated that from the next set. Chris Harris converted again and less than 15 minutes after they 24-12 down, West were 38-24 up and secured the Origin Shield.
West Wales: Lewis Francis (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Lloyd Pritchard (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Iestyn Williams (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Lewys Blayney (Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Jacob Purcell (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Corey Harris (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Chris Harris (Rhondda Outlaws), Ben Jackson (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Alex Burton (Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Aaron Lewis (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Conor O’Callaghan (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Lloyd Allen (capt, Aberavon Fighting Irish), Dylan Rees-Davies (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Subs: Dai Felton (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Scott Whitlock (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Jack Griffiths (Rhondda Outlaws), Stuart Robson (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Tyler Hopkins (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Jake Price (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Dylan Mclachlan (Aberavon Fighting Irish).
North Wales: Kieran Thomas (Conwy Celts), Alfie Matthias (Flintshire Falcons), Andrew McLorie (Conwy Celts), James Jackson (Flintshire Falcons), Jake Redmond (Crigglestone All Blacks), Will Lynch (Leigh Miners Rangers), Ryan Griffiths (Leigh East), Jonny Stokes (Conwy Celts), Jamie Fozard (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Billy Forrester (Flintshire Falcons), Brandon Lamb (Bristol All Golds), Jonny Rae (Wrexham Crusaders), Ben Stelmaszek (capt, Thatto Heath Crusaders). Subs: Sion Jones (Conwy Celts), Cameron Long (Flintshire Falcons), Callum Leonard (Flintshire Falcons), Sam Chaloner (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Edward Thompson (Wigan St Patricks), Alex Prince (Flintshire Falcons).
Referee: Ian Curzon