Narberth travelled to Dunvant for the Championship Cup semi final match against top team Ystrad Rhondda.

In the first half, the Otters played against a very strong wind and within the first quarter of an hour Ystrad had gained a significant lead. Uncharacteristic loose tackling saw the Ystrad centre slice through a gap and score close to the posts for their first converted try (7-0). Within minutes Ystrad scored again (14-0). The Otters were finding it difficult to get out of their 22 metre line and visits into their opponents’ half were few. When Narberth did manage to put some phases of play together, they looked dangerous through strong runs downfield by centres Ilan Phillips and Aled Rees and 2nd Row Will Blackburn. However, after 30 minutes of play, Ystrad were first to get to the ball and drive over for their third converted try (21-0). The large crowd of Narberth supporters who had travelled to the match were fearing the worst. Just before the interval, full back Ashley Sutton made a half break and put centre Ilan Phillips into space and he managed to run in close to the posts for an excellent try converted by fly half Jonathan Rogers. Half Time Ystad 21 Narberth 7.

Within five minutes of the second half, a powerful run by prop Bradley Davies saw him get the ball away in the tackle to supporting flanker Tom Powell who ran in under the posts for the second try converted by Rogers (21-14). Narberth were playing with added confidence. The Otters were getting into some good attacking positions on the field but the final pass was just going astray. Then, with little space to work in, wing Dean James made a thundering run down the touchline and when he was eventually stopped, supporting scrum half Lewys Gibby was on hand to take the inside pass and crash over in the corner for another try converted by Rogers which levelled the score at 21-21. Then, from a rare incursion into the Narberth half, Ystrad capitalised on a Narberth handling error and from the resulting scrum their back line conjured up another try when their wing scored wide out for an unconverted try (26-21).

Lewys Gibby’s try for the Otters v Ystrad Rhondda
Lewys Gibby’s try (Pic supplied)

For the remainder of the game Narberth kept the opposition under constant pressure. With five minutes to go the Otters were rewarded with a scrum five metres from the Ystrad try line. Narberth looked to be pushing their opponents over their try line when the scrum was illegally collapsed and Narberth were awarded a penalty. Five further scrums ensued and on each occasion Narberth looked like scoring only for further infringements by Ystrad which were penalised by the referee but he refused to award a penalty try. Narberth changed tactics and moved the ball wide and when an overlap was created the final pass which would have resulted in a certain try was deliberately knocked forward by the Ystrad hooker. The referee reached in his pocket and issued a yellow card to the infringing player but refused to award a penalty try. When Narberth called for a scrum to once again look for a pushover try Ystrad informed the referee that they had no front row player available to replace their hooker who had been sent off and there was no alternative but to move to uncontested scrums.

Despite all the pressure, Narberth were unable to score again and lost the match in a very unsatisfactory manner.

Man of the match was awarded to wing Dean James and next week the Otters travel to second placed Brecon in what could be the Championship title decider.