photo by Paul Hart
The Blackwood Bulldogs were victorious over the Bridgend Blue Bulls for the second time in eight days with a 48-36 victory at there Glan-Yr-Afon Park home.
Bridgend had travelled to Blackwood with a depleted team missing a number of key players including three who had been called into the Celtic Crusaders Reserves team.
Blackwood wing Wesley Cunliffe took advantage of some slack early defending to score a fine try in the opening minute with Jeremy Lloyd converting, but Bridgend hit straight back when Lloyd O’Connor handed off three would-be tacklers before offloading to scrum half David James who raced over for an unconverted try.
But in a fast and furious opening ten minutes Bulldogs fullback Trevor James scored to give his side a 10-4 lead.
A great break from Gareth Howells and Michael John should have lead to a second score for the Blue Bulls but like in last weeks game the ball was dropped with the try-line begging.
That mistake was then punished when Wales Dragonhearts hooker Byron Williams scored a third for the home team after a break Aaron Humphries then two quick scores from former Wales Union International Hywel Jenkins and two goals from Jeremy Lloyd put Blackwood 26-4 up.
The Bulldogs looked certain to grab a fifth score but a superb tackle from Fullback Matthew Pritchard stopped Brian Williams and then it was Bridgend who had the final say of the half when teenage prop Rhys Hawkins charged forward and slipped in a great pass for Lloyd O’Connor to score, and Gareth Howells kicked the extra two to make it 26-10 at half time.
The Blue Bulls started the second half the better and were rewarded when David James raced over for a second after good work from William Burns and Michael John with Howells again converting but Hywel Jenkins then claimed his hat-trick to make it 30-16 and the floodgates seemed about to open.
But finally something seemed to click and it was Bridgend who rallied and great play
from Lee Smith and Tylon Mafi sent Daniel Smith under the posts and moments later a great grubber kick from Lloyd O’Connor on the final tackle found David James who pounced on the ball to claim a great hat-trick. That brought the Blue Bulls to within just four points and they should have taken the lead just seconds later when Gareth Howells won the re-start and charged 50 yards to the line, he was brought down just short and then a wild pass saw Blackwood re-claim the ball and they attacked well eventually resulting in a second score for Byron Williams.
As the minutes ticked down Blackwood scored twice more with Jeremy Lloyd and Aaron Humphries both crossing, and Lloyd added a further goal to make it 48-28.
But the final score in an excellent game went to Michael John, who had covered four different positions during the match and Lloyd O’Connor kicked the goal to make the final score 48-34 to Blackwood who now go straight into the Wales Grand Final.
Meanwhile the Blue Bulls will have to beat the Valley Cougars in a fortnights time in order to get the final and have a third crack at Blackwood.
After the game Blue Bulls captain Lloyd O’Connor said “we are down but not out, the lads who came in today done a great job and with a little more luck and composure we could have won. But we will now concentrate on beating the Cougars in two weeks and then hopefully it will be third time lucky in the final over Blackwood”
BLACKWOOD BULLDOG SCORERS:
Byron Williams (2)
Hywel Jenkins (3)
Jeremy Lloyd (5)
BRIDGEND BLUE BULL SCORERS:
David James (3)
Gareth Howells (4)
article by Simon Green
13 August 2009