It wasn’t just bragging rights at stake in this match. Both clubs possessed forty-five league points, Maesteg occupied fifth place and the Quins sixth. Both clubs want a top three finish if possible. Quirkily, Quins had never beaten Maesteg in mid-week. So it was in a swirling ethereal mist, under the Llynfi Road lights, that the Quins sought to lay this ghost to rest and spirit themselves above their rivals.
Quins’ collective confidence and spirit was manifest. Starting like banshees, they overturned possession at the breakdown, line-out and pounced on Maesteg’s handling errors. Pressurised, Maesteg dived in at a ruck and Geraint Evans kicked the close range penalty.
Lewis Tutt instigated a magical move that would illuminate any match. From a scrum inside the Quins twenty-five, the No.8 obliterated Maesteg’s defence with a tremendous turn of pace. Drawing the defender and passing to wing Jack Picton, enhanced the fluidity of the move. Further superb support play and handling followed. An exhibition of tremendously timed Chuckle Brothers inter-passing put Picton over for a wonderful score. Evans converted for a ten points lead.
Fast feet and power from Geraint Watkins helped him evade the looming home defence on numerous occasions to put Quins on the front foot.
Lloyd Bradley glided into space and with a beautifully executed kick ahead, put Maesteg’s Jon Phillips under enough pressure for him to rush his kick. The line-out drive was executed to devastating effect. Powering forward, even though it was illegally halted, skipper Steve Williams ripped through the forlorn home forwards to score.
Maesteg got their first points when they ground their way into the Quins twenty-five, won a penalty and Cameron Jones obliged.
Back on the attack Bradley, put in a lazer guided cross-kick for Owen Richards. Upended in mid-air, the referee played advantage. Following up, alert Aled Edwards scooped the loose ball to score. Evans bisected the uprights for a 3-22 lead.
Haunted by the spectre of a heavy loss, Maesteg launched a fight-back. It was hard work breaking down an unrelenting Quins defence, but Jones kicked a second penalty for the first glimmer of an Old Parish riposte.
Glimmer turned into a glowing beacon, when Swansea RFC’s former Quins lock, Gavin Ronan, resembled a descending giant redwood as he dropped over at the corner. Jones converted. With the score at 13-22, the Quins’ lead didn’t appear so imposing.
The difference between the two teams was epitomised in their fortunes with the boot. Whereas the Quins’ kicking was impeccable, Maesteg could not gain a toehold with the foot. Visiting infringements were not punished with long distance clearances. Even if they did, Nathan Smith regularly stole line-out ball. Restarts failed to hit the mark, going out on the full or not travelling the full ten.
Choosing tight drives to curb the marauding Quins, Maesteg were relatively successful in inaugurating a second half stalemate. However, Tutt and Steve Williams expertly won numerous turnovers with tidal regularity to prevent any further erosion of their team’s lead.
Geraint Evans added his second penalty, as one by one, the Quins bench enhanced the stranglehold enjoyed by the South Parade men.
Lloyd Bradley continued orchestrating affairs in his best display in a Quins jersey. Tormenting Maesteg with a varied repertoire of raking kicks, Garryowens and pinpoint punts; the diminutive out-half suddenly ghosted through Maesteg’s midfield with a devastating dummy. Passing long, Jack Picton weaved in, out and when dragged down, Owen Richards was on hand to plough over for the bonus point try. Evans converted.
Aled Edwards burst through Maesteg’s defence. When tackled, three defenders helplessly clung to Geraint Watkins as the scrum half powered over. Bradley converted.
Maesteg came back and wing Scott James touched down in the corner.
In recording their most convincing win at Llynfi Road, Quins exorcised their midweek Maesteg demons, moved up one place to fifth, plus extended their unbeaten run to seven matches, which in this league is no mean feat.
Quins have six matches remaining, all at home. The first of the South Parade sextet is against Seven Sisters on Saturday, 25th March.
15. Geraint Evans (3C 2PG) 14. Jack Picton (T) 13. Aled Edwards (T)