Tony Gray’s President XV achieved a notable victory at Bangor RFC when his team managed and put together by Alwyn Bevan from locally based club players and coached by Ieuan Jones (Caernarfon) and Eddie Kirby (Mold) comfortably beat RGC1404 by four tries to two.
The facilities and the conditions at Bangor RFC were conducive to open rugby and the sizeable crowd were treated to a great game which was well controlled by referee John Roberts. Enterprise Co. who have recently announced a sponsorship deal with North Wales Rugby could not have picked a better match to mark their association.
From the outset the President XV had the edge with their superior forward power led by their outstanding lock Arwel Lloyd (Machynlleth) and their combative front row unit of James Jones (Nant), John Shirley (Mold) and Gareth Pawson (Llangefni). Considering it was a scratch side their set pieces went well with Iestyn Dafydd (Llangefni) dominating the lineouts. Their scavenging back row trio of Harri Parri (Pwllheli),Carwyn Ellis (Nant) and Caernarfon’s Andrew Williams harassed RGC back line forcing errors and denying them the opportunity to get over the gain line. It seemed that the step up in the pace and intensity of the game was too much for the nucleus of the RGC players who play their club rugby over the border.
Winger Dylan Gwyn (Caernarfon) opened the scoring for the President team when he grounded his own delicate chip sprinting clear of the cover defence to score in the corner.
Against the run of play RGC responded with a fine individual try by livewire winger Richie Hopkins (Mold) when he cut infield on a fine running angle to touch down under the posts. Try converted by M.Raikes (Sale Amateurs) to put RGC in the lead 7-5.
With scrum half Gareth Padgett (Caernarfon) sniping at every opportunity the President XV exerted pressure for some time on the RGC try line but were denied a score with RGC defending strongly.
When RGC threatened the President defence held firm, well marshalled by centre Gwilym Jones (Caernarfon) and the ever reliable Arwel Roberts (Llangefni) who had a fine game at full back.
Just before half time the spectators were treated to a great try when the President’s winger Carwyn ap Myrddin (Nant) made a scintillating break from his own half, the ball passing quickly through three pairs of hands before the supporting Harri Parri (Pwlheli) crashed over beneath the posts. Llywarch ap Myrddin (Nant) converted to make the half time score 12-7.
The President XV coaches made a few changes at half time and they continued where they left off continuing to exert pressure forcing RGC to make errors and concede turnovers.
Despite the valiant efforts of RGC captain Wil Bown (Chester) the pressure eventually took its toll and it was no surprise when Bangor based centre Chris Malhene touched down following a strong forward drive to make the score 19-5.
There was now an air of desperation in the RGC ranks as they tried to chase the game prompted by strong running centre Jack Moorhouse (Sale Amateurs) and replacement hooker Andrew Baston (Sale Amateurs) together with replacement prop Rhodri Owen (Chester).
The President’s men were not to be denied and prop Gareth Pawson (Llangefni) burst through two tackles and using a classic hand off scored a great try under the posts making an easy conversion to take the score to 26-5.
Coaches Ieuan Jones and Eddie Kirby continued to ring the changes and to their credit RGC kept going with Andrew Baston (SaleAmateurs) going over for a consolation unconverted try in injury time, making the final score 26-12.
A thoroughly entertaining match which no doubt demonstrated the abundance of talent in North Wales club rugby. Alwyn Bevan commented after the match that it was a very worthwhile exercise in staging the game, he thanked the players and coaches for their support and knows that RGC coach Clive Griffiths was pleased with the talent on show which will now give him a larger pool of players for selection consideration for coming RGC fixtures. Whilst he appreciated that the Canadian RGC players were rested for this match nevertheless he thought it was a great rugby occasion for representative rugby in North Wales.
Coach Ieuan Jones said, “It was great to be involved and have the pick of North Wales clubs talented players. Eddie and myself pre match motivation was not difficult as our players were keen to show their talents in front of RGC 1404 coach Clive Griffiths and were up for it. It was a great rugby occasion and the players were chuffed when President of North Wales Rugby Council and ex Wales coach Tony Gray came to the dressing room afterwards to say how proud he was of his team!!!”