Division One West: Whitland 19-19 Penclawdd

A late try and conversion by outside half Nico Setaro helped Whitland gain a last gasp draw against Penclawdd - when it looked as if they were slipping to a shock defeat against a side in bottom place in the section table.

With the pitch inevitably badly cutting up it is to both teams credit that they attempted to play entertaining rugby and fortunes ebbed and flowed as The Cocklemen started well and scored an early try,

Whitland bounced back to lead 7-5 at the interval but then made glaring errors which allowed Penclawdd outside half Tom Howell to grab two opportunist tries which he also converted and the game seemed over at 19-7 to Penclawdd.

However, The Borderers hit back with a late 12 points, ironically after being disgruntled after Penclawdd went down to uncontested scrums.

Whitland also had complaints about referee’ Justin Williams’ inconsistent application of high tackles and losing balls in contact by clever tactics on the ground from the visiting pack.

Penclawdd had far the better of the opening exchanges and deservedly took the lead as No 10 Tom Howell executed an inch-perfect diagonal kick to the left corner for winger Ben McCarthy to win the race for the touchdown.

Whitland’s response was led by No 8 Jack Mason but some careless kicking and loss of possession in the contact area limited their chances until Nico Setaro finally fooled the opposition with a change of direction  - and as winger Jac Howells joined centres Josh Thomas and Alex Codd in an excellent chase and dispossession it was Codd who picked up and scored a try which Setaro did well to convert.

There were other half chances early in the second half for The Borderers as Jac Howells burst through the middle and James Stephenson and Johnny Thomas combined with a kick and chase but as they tried to build pressure they again lost ball on the ground and Penclawdd No 10 Howell spotted a gap on the blind side and sped 60 metres for a soft seven-pointer.

Even worse was to follow as a careless pass on the far side of the pitch allowed Howell another 55-metre dash which he gratefully accepted and added the simple extra points.

It seemed as if Whitland were dead and buried but after a heated debate over front row injuries saw The Cocklemen calling for uncontested scrums it forced Whitland to up the tempo.

They brought all their replacements on – and reduced the deficit after good work by Bowman, Ryan Morgan and replacement hooker Marc Jones allowed a Setaro chip through to give left winger Jac Howells a deserved try – although the conversion attempt fell just a vital yard short.

Then, with Penclawdd clearly feeling the pinch in defence Setaro worked a one-two with Codd and sliced through to the posts and added the conversion with three minutes left.

There was still time for both teams to press in search of a winning score but the final whistle saw those still sharing 38 points – and in the final analysis perhaps a draw was the fairest result.

Whitland: James Stephenson, Jac Howells, Alex Codd, Josh Thomas, Jonathan Thomas, Nico Setaro, Adam Davies, Aaron Mayne, Iwan Lewis, Michael Ryan, Courtney Bowman, Raff Williams, Scott Buirds, Ryan Morgan, Jack Mason. Replacements: Marc Jones, Jamie Lewis, Josh Thomas (2), Ben Kirk, Jamie Thomas.

Penclawdd: Rhys Eaton, Liam Davies, Sam Devonald, Zac Chambers, Ben McCarthy, Tom Howell, Lee Gunnell, Matty Evans, Danny James, Rhys Jones, Edward Curtis, Matthew Donahoe, Johnny Hughes, Elliott Rees, Tom Evans. Replacements: Alan George, Josh Stevens, Will Guarneri, Sam Court, Paddy Jennings.