CARDIGAN won their top of the table clash with St Clears 15-10 in Division Three West A, but they were forced to do it the hard way after they were reduced to 13 men in the closing stages of this tense and very physical encounter.
Replacement back rower Colin Davies was the first player to go for killing the ball, and then he was followed by full back John Lumb, for a dangerous tackle.
The Saints threw everything at the Cardis in the dying minutes, but Llyr Griffiths and his men defended resiliently and they managed to hang on for the win.
The visitors looked as if they were going to run away with the game in the opening quarter as they spent most of it in the Cardigan 22 metre area, and were held up on the try line on three occasions.Some brave defending kept them out, with the likes of Gethin Jones,Tomos Evans, Kieran Hurley and Luke Rogers putting in the big hits.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the half hour mark when St Clears outside half Geraint Jones slotted over a penalty.
The hosts hit back soon afterwards with a fine try, albeit with a hint of a knock-on.
The ball was booted upfield by fly half Luke Rogers and the bounce deceived the visiting full back and found its way to second row Dean Harries and then to winger Llyr Jones, who fed supporting back rower Kieran Hurely, who touched down.
Rogers then successfully converted from the touchline, to put his team 7-3 ahead.
Cardigan pushed hard for another score before the break and they were rewarded for their good play with a penalty in the last minute, which was duly dispatched by Rogers, for a half-time score of 10-5.
St Clears came flying out of the blocks after the restart, but it was Cardigan who scored first and this proved to be the most crucial score of the game. Skipper Llyr Griffiths was the player to claim the try, but it was a collective forwards’ effort as the Cardigan pack pushed their opponents over the try line from a scrum five.
The Saints came back strongly for the final quarter of the game, and scored a try when blind-side flanker Mathew Owens, who had a great game, barged his way over to put his side within sight of victory.
The successful conversion from Jones further added to the tension that was noticeably cranking up in the Gollop Stand.
The yellow carding of back rower Davies added to the home side’s nerves with 10 minutes to go - and when full back Lumb was also sent packing for a dump tackle St Clears were looking odds-on winners.
Some brave defending and a touch of good fortune saved their day, however, as Cardigan hung on for a slender win to retain their position at the top of the table, level on points with title rivals Pembroke.
This weekend, however, Cardigan will turn their attentions to entertaining Usk in the second round of the Swalec Bowl.
TREGARON 75 PEMBROKE DOCK 15
PEMBROKE Dock Quins arrived without a full complement of players and were helped out by the hosts, who breezed to an emphatic win in Division Three West A.
During the opening salvos, Tregaron tried too hard as they forced the last pass, instead of playing a simple game. Once the first try was scored, however, they settled into their pattern of play and by half-time the game was won with a bonus point.
The first try was a good one as young Rhydian Jones, playing on the left wing, finished off a good back line move, and Gwion Phillips at number 10 converted well.
Flanker Rhydian Davies then burst through from the 22 metre line to score, and when a driving maul crossed the whitewash, prop Dorian Pugh touched down for their third try, with Phillips adding the extra points.
Phillips, in fact, kicked 10 out of 11 conversions, which is a record at the school field.
Another excellent score saw No 8 Hopkin Matthews tracked by his outside backs to score a try in the corner.
The youngster was the pick of the two teams with his clever running lines and some excellent support play.
A thrilling second half saw a total of 10 tries scored by both teams, with seven more from the hosts, and three by the Pembrokeshire outfit.
Pugh and Matthews scored another two each to complete individual hat-tricks, whilst full back Dilwyn Harries, scrum half Nathan Lloyd and reserve Arwel Jones also added one each.
For the Quins, props Josh Boswell and Jack Davies and second row Sam Richards scored tries, and Ben Hathaway kicked one conversion.
Tregaron were grateful to Aberystwyth RFC for allowing some of their players to play under permit, and the performances of both Phillips and Matthews were invaluable in this contest.