“A STEP BACK IN TIME”
(By Percy Jones)
CARMARTHEN HARLEQUINS – WEST WALES LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
(By kind permission of the Carmarthen Journal)
Saturday 1st May 1937
Carmarthen 6pts; Ystradgynlais 3pts.
The Carmarthen Harlequins, captained by Willie Orman, gained a brilliant victory over Ystradgynlais at the Park Ground, Pontardulais, on Saturday evening in the final of the West Wales League Championship, by one penalty goal, one try (6 points) to one penalty goal (3 points).
Although devoid of play of a spectacular nature, the game contained an abundance of thrills from start to finish. Exchanges were keen throughout and the Harlequins were full value for their great triumph. In fact, I thought Ystradgynlais were fortunate to get off so lightly and the spectators wondered how they had fought their way to the final. The Quins were superior in practically every department, more especially behind the scrum, the back division being the more polished side right through, showing a better knowledge of the finer points of the game.
Rousing Forward Play
The game was featured with some rousing forward play, both packs waging a relentless duel. The Quins showed to advantage in the loose mauls and in the lines-out, while Ystradgynlais were content with dominating the set scrummages. Both “eights” put great life into their work and utilised sufficient variety of methods that interest in this direction never waned. Bright moments were plentiful and when Ystradgynlais strove desperately near the close to avert defeat, sufficient thrills were provided. The Harlequins have been going great guns during 1936-37, having held the leading position in the West Wales League table throughout the season and it was only equitable that they should carry off the shield.
The Quins defence was again a predominant feature showing even greater defensive qualities than in the game with Amman United. C. Treharne outclassed his opposite number in this direction and his fielding and touch-finding were of a high order. He rarely put a foot wrong. The superior speed of the Harlequins’ backs was a noticeable feature, their concerted movements being by far more progressive than those attempted by Ystradgynlais. Harold Thomas, although showing considerable improvement on his previous displays, was the vulnerable point. He showed commendable enthusiasm in going for the line when he notched the Quins’ try, however.
A prominent force
W. R. J. Jones was once again a predominant feature and played a major part in the Quins’ victory. He speeded up the back division to be sure and his dangerous bursts often had the Ystradgynlais defence in a dilemma. His penalty goal was a gem. Emrys Davies was again the victim of a leg injury but this did not prevent him from giving his side a helping hand along the road to victory. His fine covering-up work and grand touch-kicking near the end played a big part in keeping Ystradgynlais out. Jack Mathews, left wing, completed an effective combination. Mathews had the ball in his possession on more occasions than in the two games with Amman United but on Saturday, despite the fact that he made a few great touchline sprints, he was well tackled by W. V. Thomas, the Ystradgynlais full-back.
D. O. Griffiths at outside-half, was a “live-wire” in all the bright Quins movements . His play in the first half did not impress, but after the interval he settled down and gave a fine exhibition. His defensive work, especially his screw kicking, was a pleasure to watch. Ivor Hopkins was again outstanding but he has two big faults. His passes from the base of the scrum are invariably lobs, which did not enable the Quins’ backs to get away as quickly as they might have done. Hopkins made some menacing dashes through the middle but after beating three or four opponents he attempted to carry the movement too far and with two or three colleagues at his side he would be tackled. Hopkins, however, deserves a word of praise for the way in which he linked up with his threequarters and opened out the game continually.
As previously stated, the forwards showed up best in the loose rushes and in the lines-out. In the latter capacity E. P. Merry, Glyn Howells and Ovens were outstanding. Howells again proved his worth as being a hard worker and he rallied his men splendidly. Nobody worked harder in the Quins’ team than Dai Evans and B. Williams. Williams, who was formerly with Burry Port has rendered the Quins yeoman service and his fast following-up on Saturday was a feature of the game. F. Taylor tackled well and he used his speed to advantage on many occasions. He kept pegging away at the Ystradgynlais outside-half throughout and this, I dare say, had a great deal to do with Ystrad’s poor passing movements. W. Orman heeled the ball more regularly than previously but despite this, he was out-hooked. H. A. Trumper was the only member of the Quins’ “eight” to disappoint. He was frequently penalised for obstruction and if only he had put his weight into the scrums the Quins’ threequarters would have had the ball oftener than they did.
The triumphant Harlequins team was as follows:-
C. Treharne; Jack Mathews; Emrys Davies; W. R. J. Jones; Harold Thomas; D. O. Griffiths; Ivor Hopkins; B. Williams; W. Orman (Capt); Glyn Howells; E. P. Merry; Dai Evans; H. A. Trumper; D. R. Ovens; E. Taylor. Ovens had travelled down from Reading where he is a sports master to assist the Quins, as also did D. O. Griffiths from Cardiff University College.
The referee was Mr D. George of Neath.
Excellent Penalty Goal
Both teams were given a fine ovation when they fielded. Ystradgynlais wore blue and white jerseys and the Quins red black and amber shirts. Ystradgynlais won the toss and had advantage of a stiff breeze. The crowd was not up to expectations when W. R. J. Jones kicked off and an Ystradgynlais player, fielding on his own 25, knocked on. From the ensuing scrum, the Quins heeled but a beautiful passing movement saw Harold Thomas fumble his pass from W. R. J. Jones after the latter had made considerable ground. The ball went loose and the Ystradgynlais forwards dribbled to the Quins’ territory. Play had been in progress only five minutes when Ystradgynlais took an undeserved lead. Glyn Howells was caught off-side near his own 25 and W. V. Thomas, the young Ystrad full-back, kicked an excellent goal.
This lead emitted rounds of cheers from the Ystradgynlais supporters but it was not for long, for in the next minute the Quins had equalised. A line-out was formed in mid-field and Ovens broke away. The ball went loose, an Ystradgynlais player nipped in but had his kick charged down and Ernie Taylor, gathering, slung out a long pass to W. R. J. Jones. The Harlequins centre after beating his man in delightful fashion, transferred to D. O. Griffiths who sent Harold Thomas hurtling over for a great try in the corner.