33 RGC 1404 DRAGONS ‘A’ 35

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.

16 RGC 1404: 13 CROSS KEYS

RGC 1404 welcomed Welsh Premiership Rugby to Parc Eirias in the form of Cross Keys, currently lying 10th in the league. This was a stern test for RGC in their quest to be a Premiership team.

The game kicked off in uncharacteristically glorious weather. Almost immediately, the home side scored a penalty through the boot of Michael Raikes; though RGC couldn’t hold onto the lead for long. An individual try by David Langdon was converted by Gareth David. Another 3 points put Cross Keys 10-3 ahead.

Knowing they had to get back into the game, RGC made several surges into the Cross Keys half, with a powerful run from Will Bown yielding a penalty for RGC. This descended into chaos as several brawls, with both XVs involved. The result was a yellow card to each team, Luke Cudmore for the home side and Rob Nash for Keys. Play continued, with Raikes scoring a resulting penalty to bring RGC to within a try of the opposition.

Trademark solid defence from RGC kept Cross Keys away from the try line and with both sides returned to a full complement, the game continued its fast-flow. RGC threw themselves back into the game, with a sharp break from captain Sean White leading to a penalty. Raikes put it over to leave the hosts trailing by just one point. After a fantastic build up and quick hands, RGC winger James Farrell scored a well-worked try, converted by Raikes to take the home side to a 16-10 lead. Cross Keys chipped away at this. David kicked a penalty to narrow the lead to three points. Some good defensive work from RGC’s captain was cut short by a trip from the opposing scrumhalf. Tempers flared tempers again and it was perhaps fortunate that the referee blew for half time shortly afterwards.

The opening of the second half was a static affair broken only by a difficult penalty kick from Raikes which drifted just wide of the uprights. This seemed to galvanise both teams and the game opened up once more. RGC matched their Premiership opponents for speed and strength and the game became a stalemate. After determined defence, RGC won a penalty to clear their line but Cross Keys hit back with some well constructed phases to reach the RGC line. Only a held up ball prevented a try. RGC dominated the resulting scrum, turned the ball over and White cleared.

Cross Keys continued to pressurise and were unlucky not to score; a penalty hit the cross bar. Stolen ball from a Cross Keys line out then gave the home side a territorial advantage and several minutes in the Cross Keys 22 which unfortunately they couldn’t convert to points. Cross Keys had several chances and breaks which were ground to a halt by typical ferocious RGC defence, which once again was a key component in their win.

An excellent result for RGC, proving that they can hack it in the Premiership; exciting days ahead for rugby fans in North Wales.

Match report by Kumari Tilakawardane


RGC 1404 welcomed Enisei to Parc Eirias expecting a tough game from the Russian National Championship runners-up and receiving just that. Last week in a convincing win over the Royal Navy, RGC 1404 had the majority of possession. This week, the first ten minutes proved to be an entirely different story; the lion’s share of possession and territory went to Enisei.

From kick-off, it was apparent that the Russians would present a very physical challenge. Only strong RGC defence stopped the impressive Enisei from scoring in the first five minutes. For most of the first half, there was little fluidity to the game, despite the good pitch condition and clear weather. Although Enisei seemed to have parity in most areas of the game in the opening stages, RGC hit back to score a penalty through fly-half Michael Raikes. In reply, some tidy play from Enisei saw Dima Gerasimov kick a penalty for a deliberate knock 10 minutes in to level the scores at 3-3.

RGC soon found their feet and with a quarter of an hour gone some neat offloading saw RGC full back Ciaran Hearn score the first try of the game. Settled by this, the home team started playing the expansive passing game that the Eirias crowd have become accustomed to. They were unlucky not to score as a number of promising moves failed to result in a try.

Both teams spurned promising scoring chances close to the line, due in part to ferocious defending from both teams. RGC broke through the tough Russian defence a number of times, but couldn’t quite finish off the moves. Eventually, Enisei fought their way through to the RGC try line. A number of phases followed and after a scuffle on the line, Anton Rudoy scored Enisei’s first try. RGC struggled to break through the organised Enisei defence, but from a quick tap by scrum half White, RGC were awarded a penalty. Raikes scored to draw the scores level 11-11 at half time.

In the second half RGC hit back straight away. A brilliant break and support play from White, sent Hearn in for his second try. Raikes kicked the conversion to give the home team a 7 point lead. A yellow card for Enisei’s Pavel Butenko allowed a Raikes penalty to increased the RGC lead.

Not to be outdone, man-of-the-match Rudoy ran in a try under the posts after shrugging off several would-be tacklers, with the conversion added by Gerasimov. Both teams were now playing with much more invention and the game started to open up. Only a solid hit from Jack Moorhouse stopped Enisei running in an interception try, though they then scored with a penalty to level the scores.

In the end it was a Raikes penalty which brought the 24-21 victory to RGV after some hard-fought rucks. This was a game of two halves, the first belonging to Enisei and the second to RGC. In the end the home team managed to hold on to snatch a hard fought win against a well-drilled touring side. They continue their rich vein of form at Parc Eirias, once again proving that a strong defence can win games.