A last gasp penalty from the left boot of Pontypool Full Back Geraint O’Driscoll denied RGC 1404 a winning end to their inaugural season. Despite failing to record their fifth straight victory, the RGC set-up can be proud of a performance that not only entertained the 700 strong crowd but one that earned them respect from the travelling men of Gwent.
In fine weather conditions, on a hard and fast track, both sides seemed intent on playing an attacking brand of rugby with RGC full back Ciaran Hearn showing fine pace and footwork in the early stages. However it was the Gwent side that drew first blood. O’Driscoll slotted a simple penalty to open his side’s account. Their first try came soon after, as Lewis Evans charged down a Sean White box kick to cross the whitewash. The Dragons looked a good bet to build a healthy lead but were thwarted by good turnover work by the RGC pack and their own inability to hold onto crucial passes.
RGC grabbed a try of their own when the impressive Chauncey O'Toole gathered in his own half and showed pace and then composure to send Jack Moorhouse under the sticks with Raikes on hand to convert. When Sean White was pulled back, whilst chasing his chip over the top, RGC were presented with a kickable penalty, however they put faith in their forward pack and went for the corner. Their ambition was rewarded when a huge effort from the front eight resulted in a try for Jebb Sinclair with Raikes again on hand to add the extras. RGC could have added another try, soon after, when fine offloading work by Luke Cudmore and Richard Hopkins resulted in an opportunity for promising youngster Kriss Wilkes, who was just unable to hold on to the final pass with the try line at his mercy.
RGC 1404, who lost centre Nick Blevins in the warm-up, were dealt a further blow when ever present centre Jack Moorhouse was stretchered from the field with a dislocated and fractured ankle. The severity of the injury forced a fifteen-minute break in play to allow the medics to reduce the dislocation and safely escort Moorhouse from the field and straight to hospital.
When play resumed, the Dragons built a period of pressure with North Walian Pat Leach leading the way with a number of strong carries. Strong work in defence and at ruck time by RGC limited the Gwent men to just a further three points, via the boot of O’Driscoll, before the end of the first stanza.
A key turning point in the game came when the referee sent RGC prop Doug Wooldridge to the bin for foul play. As has become the trend in modern rugby, the Dragons took full advantage of their numerical advantage. The Dragons regained the lead when Leach found a hole in the home defence and showed good pace to finish, much to the delight of onlookers from Colwyn Bay RFC. The boot of O’Driscoll added the two points. The lead was extended when number eight Lewis Evans powered over from a five metre scrum and then wing Steve Taylor finished off a fine passage of play in the right hand corner.
RGC were not done yet and were back in the game when Hartpury College Number 8 Michael Stubbs used a strong fend to cross from a five metre scrum, after good link play from Ciaran Hearn and Joe Palmer had given RGC field position. RGC scored again when a Stubbs offload sent man of the match Chauncey O’Toole clear, despite showing good feet to beat O’Driscoll, the Dragons defence scrambled well to drag him down inches short. From the ensuing ruck Sean White managed to burrow over under the posts with Raikes again converting. RGC. buoyed by the vocal home support, were not done there and with less than five minutes remaining, a training ground set play saw a strong carry into the heart of the Dragons defence, resulting in quick ball being fed to the blind side and the elusive Sean White, who ignored an overlap to cross for the try that put RGC back in front, Raikes failed with a tough conversion leaving RGC up by just one with minutes remaining.
With the clock running down an RGC knock on presented possession back to the Dragons who showed structure and patience to move into the RGC 22. It was then that the over eager RGC defence were adjudged to be offside. This presented O’Driscoll the opportunity to hand victory to Dragons ‘A’ and so it was that the reliable left boot of the full back sent the ball between the uprights to give victory to the Men of Gwent.