Through the passage of this season, these two clubs have experienced every peak and trough; from riding wave crests, to plummeting to the murky depths. At the season’s start Maesteg seemed unsinkable, whereas the Quins floundered.
Since rounding the New Year peninsula, there has been a reversal in fortunes. Despite their financial investment in their squad, Maesteg’s form hit an iceberg some time ago and at times their performances have dropped to steerage class. Alternatively, the Quins’ form has been resurrected to first class levels and helped them sail on to joint league leadership.
Unable to surpass the Quins, Maesteg could not even proclaim parochial pre-eminence. Consequently, all Maesteg had to play for was to sink the Quins pride on South Parade’s ocean of grass. Nothing would have given the Old Parish greater pleasure and they tried manfully to achieve this. Indeed, were it not for the Old Parish’s commendably dogged defence, a greater winning margin would have been recorded.
Subsequently, this was not a tense titanic tussle. It was one-sided, with the Quins’ overall quality delivering bouts of brilliance to breach the visiting defence.
Despite three clear-cut chances in the first ten minutes, the mach remained scoreless. On twenty minutes Owen Howe kicked a forty yards penalty. Soon after, a thirty yards driving maul coasted forward and Lewis Tutt touched down. Howe converted and added two more penalties for a sixteen-nil half-time lead.
Quins’ command of the set pieces gave Maesteg little hope. Despite the tricky wind, their line-out was perfection. In a brightly glowing white star line-out performance, Nathan Smith was imperious. Additionally, like an icebreaker several times Smith smashed open Maesteg’s tightly packed floe of forwards. The Quins also dominated the scrum engine room. Once more flanker Gavin Burridge, pressed into loose-head action performed immensely, making the game a misery for the tight-head.
A strong performance at the breakdown also allowed the Quins to pirate possession, yet Maesteg too were combative in this area.
Kieran Watkins proved difficult to stop. Not only did his fast feet and genuine Blue Riband pace elude numerous defenders in a fine display of attacking wing play when needed, his deceptive strength made vital yards.
Showing a clean pair of heels, Jacob Lewis initiated a telling move. Nathan Edwards further broke the Maesteg midfield ending with the Quins being held up over the line. A simple, exquisitely executed blind-side move from the attacking scrum, sent wing Watkins scampering in at the corner. From the touchline and against a strong wind, Howe’s heartbreaking hoof hit the target.
Maesteg’s stand-out performers were centres Jon Phiilips and Sam Griffiths. Griffiths proved elusive on a few occasions. Dodging several tacklers, he strode over for a converted try.
Immediately a defensive Maesteg scrum was disrupted. Geraint Watkins pounced on a fumble at the base, to win back possession. Lee Bevan showed a keen eye for a gap, providing close support to run under the posts. Howe maintained his 100% kicking record to sink Maesteg’s hopes of salvaging something from the wreckage.
Occasional flare-ups saw yellow cards wisely used with equity, dismissing one from each team on two occasions.
Lloyd Bradley found himself plotting the course for another rupture of Maesteg’s port side defence. His hot cross-kick, picked out Nathan Smith, who palmed the ball down to Dean Ronan to score the bonus point try.
Attempting to save their season with a defiant derby win, Maesteg sent out a SOS to run the ball at every opportunity. Spurning a penalty to touch in favour of a tap and go, the Old Parish were poorly aligned for regatta rugby. Lloyd Bradley was on look out duty as he turned from provider to recipient. Sighting an opportunity in the disarray, he nipped between the flotsam and jetsam of the Maesteg support players, to intercept and move the Quins on to forty points; making them feel on top of the world.
With two home games remaining, the Quins stand on the summit of the table. The first, on Saturday is against Ammanford. The second is the season finale versus Bonymaen the following Wednesday (26th).
The Quins would love to see you.
15. Owen Howe (3C 3PG) 14. Kieran Watkins (T) 13. Lee Bevan (T)
12. Aled Edwards 11. Owen Richards 10. Lloyd Bradley (T)
9. Geraint Watkins
1. Gavin Burridge 2. Jay Ronan 3. Dean Ronan (T) 4. Nathan Smith
5. Scott Williams 6. Jacob Lewis 8. Lewis Tutt (T) 7. Steven Williams (c)
16. Aled Evans for J. Lewis 17. Nathan Edwards for L. Bevan
18. Jack Picton for O. Richards 19. Lee Ronan for Sc. Williams
20. Richard Teesdale for G. Burridge