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The previous two weekends have not been good for the Villagers who have suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of Abercynon RFC. Therefore, it was important that Dinas regain their form and emerge with a win in order to steady the ship which, although not at risk of sinking, was gently rocking side-to-side.
Although the fixture cannot be considered a derby in the geographical sense, there is sufficient history between St Peters RFC and coach John Dunleavy and his two sons, both of whom play for the Villagers, to generate the kind of passion that it often associated with derby matches. The scene was set for another almighty contest.
St Peters started brightly and some tight play amongst their forwards, coupled with some tactical kicking, kept Dinas within their own half for the first ten minutes of the game. However, as the ten-minute mark approached, the ball found its way into the waiting hands of James Wiltshire. As regular supporters of the Villagers will know, James has a pretty good turn-of-pace which he used to good effect, making substantial headway into the visitor’s half before he was caught by the Rocks’ defence. Despite being tackled, Wiltshire was able to offload the ball to Nathan Williams who took it at pace for the game’s opening try. The conversion was a relatively straight forward kick for Ben White.
Over the next ten minutes, the two teams were locked in an arm wrestle, each gaining territory only to concede it again shortly afterwards. But it was St Peters who were to take the points from this passage of play. Dinas were penalised for standing up in the scrum handing the Rocks a kick at goal which they converted.
Dinas didn’t have to wait too long to recover their seven-point lead. The Rocks collected the ball from the restart but the chase by Nathan Williams was good and he tackled the receiver just feet from where the ball landed. The official, realising that the ball was being held on the ground, immediately penalised the visitors. Up stepped Ben White for a mid-range kick from centre field. He struck the ball well and it sailed between the posts for the three points.
On the twenty-fifth minute, the Rocks had a second opportunity to kick for goal as the Villagers’ defensive line strayed offside. The kick, just outside the Dinas twenty-two, was slightly off-centre but easy enough for the fly-half.
With about five minutes remaining, a speculative kick up-field by the visitors was collected by Rhys Evans. The three-quarter set off on a blistering run up the far touchline, beating three Rocks before offloading to winger Sam Middlemiss who crossed in the corner. Ben White missed the difficult conversion from out wide.
There was just enough time for the restart which was unfortunate for the Villagers. Just as St Peters had done earlier in the match, Dinas infringed immediately after receiving the ball. With little time to do anything other than to kick for goal, the Rocks took the three points to end the half six points adrift; half-time score Dinas 15 – 9 St Peters.
From the restart, both teams frantically tried to be the first to score; the Villagers looking to stretch their lead, St Peter’s looking to take the lead. However, it was the home team that struck first, four minutes into the second half.
Dinas had a lineout just inside the Rocks’ territory. The dependable Lewis Dunleavy safely caught the ball and passed it expertly into the waiting hands of Nathan Williams. The scrum-half threw a sublime dummy to fool the on-rushing defenders and create himself space through which to attack. It momentarily looked as though Williams would be free to score a fine individual try but he was hauled to the ground at the twenty-two. As the Villagers’ forwards took charge at the ruck, Williams returned to his feet and span the ball out-wide to the waiting backs. However, the Rock’s had strayed offside and, when the ball went into touch on the opposite side of the field, the official brought play back towards the centre of the pitch. Seeing an opportunity too good to miss, Ben White kicked the three points to take Dinas two scores clear of the visitors.
Eight minutes later, the Villagers notched up the third of their tries. The ball was chipped over the top of a ruck from ten metres into the Dinas half by Nathan. The unpredictable bounce favoured the home team and the ball was gathered by Rhys Evans who shipped it to Gareth Williams. In the phases of play that followed the ball was passed between forwards and backs numerous times, first to the right and then back in-field to the left, eventually making its way to James Wiltshire who had a simple dash across the line from short range. The conversion attempt by White was good.
Despite taking the ball cleanly at the restart, Dinas found themselves under pressure as the clearance kick was charged down by the visitors. The following six or seven minutes were littered with penalties and scrums inside the home team’s twenty-two. Eventually, the Rocks were rewarded for the sustained pressure courtesy of a penalty try. The conversion was a formality and St Peters were back in the hunt; Dinas 25 – 16 St Peters with a quarter of the match remaining.
It took less than four minutes for the Villagers to strike back with their fourth, bonus-point securing, try of the day. The ball was won from a lineout deep in the Rocks’ twenty-two and passed to the young prop Caleb Robinson who charged headlong towards the try line but was stopped frustratingly short. Nathan Williams quickly recycled the ball and it was passed, once again, from one side of the pitch to the other where Rhys Evans crossed the whitewash. Despite the difficult angle, Ben Whites conversion was good.
St Peters knew that time was running out and that they had to score quickly if they were to stand any chance (regardless of how small) of leaving the common with something to show for their efforts. And so it was, with ten minutes to go that they scored the second of their tries which was converted. Unfortunately for the visitors, this was their last score of the match.
As the rain fell harder that it had done all afternoon, Ben White kicked a long range penalty three minutes from the end to seal a memorable win.
Final score : Dinas 35 – 23 St Peters