It was a wet and windy day at Waunarlwydd RFC but that didn’t affect the atmosphere or the skills on show from all teams participating. After a few last minute withdrawals ‘The Cherries’ found themselves up against it from the get go. With a bare squad of 7 players, coach Chris Keenan blew the cobwebs off his boots to enable at least one rolling substitution option. The final squad for the day was as follows;
First up for the squad were ‘Front Row Fitness’, a BIG challenge! Furnace defied the conditions and played some ‘sexy rugby’ scoring some outstanding team and individual tries. Defensively, they also looked solid apart from a single monetary lapse in concentration. The game was played in good spirits and Furnace ran out convincing winners by 4 tries to 1.
They knew they were going to face a much stiffer test in their next group game. Up next were ‘The Hellraisers’, reigning champions, joint tournament favourites and everybody’s least favourite team! Furnace flew out of the blocks and looked dangerous with ball in hand from the get go. After some imaginative play in midfield, an overlap was created. However, a defender read the play well, gambled and picked off the pass to sprint in for the opening try. Furnace didn’t let their heads drop and continued to play their exciting brand of rugby. It was a see-saw encounter and the teams went in level at 2 tries a piece at half time. Both teams continued to look to play into the second half and both had chances to win /lose the match. The match swung on two key moments. Another intercept pass when ‘The Cherries’ were on attack led to a ‘Hellraiser’ try and Luke Jenkins’ touchline sprint and dive into the corner was disallowed after the defender was adjudged to have got the faintest of touches. Had our captain not recently returned from an all inclusive break the outcome may well have been different. After a last gasp chance for a Furnace try went begging the match finished at 4 tries to 3 in favour of ‘The Hellraisers’.
After a short break, Furnace faced their next opponents, ‘Swansea Health Solutions’. Joints were starting to seize and muscles ache but the professional warm-up of keepy uppys did its job and the 8 strong squad once again took the field with smiles on their faces. This was a slightly frustrating encounter with conditions worsening, some dubious refereeing decisions and experienced opponents using their nous as well as skill. It turned out to be a real battle with defences on top. Tries were at a premium and with less than a minute on the clock the scores were level at 2 tries all. With Furnace on attack around 40m out, Dyfan Watkins took a simple inside pass from our 1st receiver. The hooker must have been having flashbacks from his time spent on the wing as he accelerated away from the cover defence and had just about enough left in the tank to slide in for the winning try. Work is definitely needed on his diving technique though as he slid 5m on his backside, almost forgetting to ground the ball. This victory ensured ‘The Cherries’ would finish 2nd in the group but it came at a cost. Luke Jenkins injured his ankle and would watch the rest of the tournament from the stands, meaning Furnace would have no substitutes in the knockout stages.
In the quarter final, Furnace came up against the ‘New Age Young Guns’. Having watched some of their games throughout the day we knew it was going to be a huge challenge. They had a full squad of 12 players, a couple of whom play in the Welsh Premiership, and had a really good mix of speed and skill. As the game got underway though, it was the Young Guns’ defence which was most impressive. Plays that were creating space earlier in the day were snubbed out and when we did make breaks they had the pace to scramble and recover. The workload of having such a small squad eventually caught up with Furnace and the ‘New Age Young Guns’ capitalised on small lapses in concentration to come through winners by 3 tries to 1.
Their quality was underlined by the fact they triumphed in the final of the cup competition so Furnace can walk away from the day with their heads held high knowing that they were put out by the eventual champions. From our point of view, we will be left to rue what could have been achieved with a full squad. Nonetheless, the day was extremely enjoyable as always and there were lots of positives to take away with us. There were some pieces of individual brilliance but also a team spirit and willingness to work hard for each other that shone through and should stand the team in good stead for the forthcoming season.
I’d like to thank the tournament organisers for putting on such a great day once again and not letting the conditions dampen anyone’s spirits. I hope the event continues to grow and ‘The Cherries’ will be looking forward to next year
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