Debutant Cleland in man-of-the-match display

First published in Sport

LLANISHEN 3rd XV 12

BARRY RFC 3rd XV 26

RETURNING to action after a two-month lay-off with a tricky away fixture at Llanishen, the Barry Rugby Club Thirds, with several senior players unavailable, handed debuts to Tom Cleland, Morgan Fogg and Shane Compton.

In addition, Chris Chucas, Ashley Forrester and Kyle Barclay were called up for their first games of the season.

Despite the disruption, hopes were high and early inroads into the Llanishen 22 suggested that this could prove to be a fruitful afternoon. Unfortunately, there was a lack of precision in the execution of strike moves in the final third, and too many chances were wasted through poor decision making and handling.

With the scrums being passive, the home side negated the effect of the Barry juggernaut, and began to string some moves together to threaten the visitors’ line. A combination of good attacking play and lacklustre tackling saw Llanishen take the lead with a converted try.

Barry responded with some enterprising attacking play, utilising the running power of their midfield of Williams and Forrester, aided by quick ball generated by the half-back combination of Mepham and Joel Williams. The result was a penalty within kickable range, but, unfortunately, the kick by Williams barely left the ground.

At half time, despite dominating possession and territory, Barry found themselves 7-0 down and caretaker manager Ken Chow, voicing his displeasure, brought on Hewitson to liven up the back-line – with almost instant success. Barry stole a line-out deep in the Llanishen half, and there was no stopping Dave Hosking who dived over. Hewitson added a great conversion from out wide.

Sensing a shift in momentum, Chow utilised his replacement bench again, and Barry kicked on. A superb combination between Barclay, Mepham and Hewitson saw Joel Williams freed on the wing, and he made no mistake to score in the corner. Hewitson again added the extras from out wide.

Llanishen tried to up the ante but found the visitors’ defensive line, marshalled superbly by captain Lloyd Jones and second row Tom Cleland, in unrelenting mood. When ball was turned over in midfield, Barry camped in the home 22 yet again, and it was down to Jason Thomas to power over for an unconverted try.

With the game seemingly won, the home side struck back with a superbly worked try from behind a scrum, but, with the conversion missed, they still needed a seven-pointer to level the match.

Barry snuffed out any hopes of an unlikely comeback as they retained possession superbly in the dying embers, and it was, indeed, the green and whites who had the final say. Another barnstorming run from Barclay allowed Joel Williams to set up Kyle Case with a delightful pass, and he made no mistake to touch down for the bonus point try. Hewitson was once again accurate with the boot.

The 3rd XV are back in action next weekend away at Old Illtydians, while the 2nd XV have two games against Rhiwbina in succession, first on Saturday at home in the league before the Cardiff & District Cup semi-final on Thursday, April 10, at Llandaff North.

Team: Chucas; Rees, D Williams, Forrester, Middleton; J Williams, Mepham; Compton, Hosking, Heard; Hall, Cleland; Templeman, Jones (c) and Barclay. Replacements: Thomas, Fogg, Case and Hewitson. Man-of-the-match: Cleland.

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