Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC

Canton celebrate their East District Malcolm Thomas Cup victory over Dinas Powys. Pic: Mike Jones/Replay Images Mandatory Credit ©ReplayImages/Mike Jones

Cup Triumph For Dervishes And Dai Manley As Canton Beat Dinas Powys

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By Carl Field

There was delight for Canton – Dai Manley’s Dervishes – who ended the season with silverware by defeating Dinas Powys 25-19 at Barry RFC to lift the Worthington’s Malcolm Thomas Cup.

The East District showpiece was, like last year, set to be hosted at Glamorgan Wanderers.

But the pitch at the Wanderers was deemed unplayable by referee Rhidian Crompton during a pitch inspection at 6.20pm, less than an hour before the scheduled kick-off.

It left the two sides frantically ringing round to try and secure an alternative venue and, when Barry kindly agreed to step in and host at short notice, the teams hotfooted it four-and-a-bit miles from the Memorial Ground in Ely to Reservoir Fields in Barry – with kick off pushed back slightly to 7.30pm, last Thursday evening.

Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC East District – Malcolm Thomas Cup
Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC
Mandatory Credit ©ReplayImages/Mike Jones

When the final did eventually get going, there was a try apiece within the first five minutes.

Canton scored first after just two minutes through lock Sam Durnan, converted by outside half Harry Morgan-Grant, but that was cancelled out by Cian Anderson’s try moments later, which he also converted.

Morgan-Grant kicked a penalty for Three East Central Canton, before Dinas – who this season have been playing two divisions below their opponents – then hit the front when centre Andrew Szuchnik scored their second try which went unconverted.

However, it would be Canton with their noses in front 17-12 at half time with their second try scored by Morgan-Grant, which he also converted, before Dinas’ Szuchnik was denied before the break.

Canton thought they had gone further in front after the re-start when Morgan-Grant set up wing Peter Hughes, but the interception try was chalked off for an adjudged offside by the touch-judge, despite the try originally having been given by the referee.

It wasn’t long before Dinas were up the other end scoring try number three and a second for Szuchnik, converted by Anderson, to go 19-17 ahead.

But their hopes of a first East District Cup triumph since 2017 were dashed by a third Canton try – which this time was given – scored by scrum-half Perry Hill, followed by a penalty from Morgan-Grant.

Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC East District – Malcolm Thomas Cup
Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC
Mandatory Credit ©ReplayImages/Mike Jones

Canton held on despite Dinas piling on the pressure, with skipper Josh Dunleavy and his side agonisingly close to grabbing a fourth try.

It was third time lucky in recent years for Canton who had lost their previous two Malcolm Thomas Cup finals, either side of Covid, to Fairwater twice in 2019 and then 2022.

The presentations were made by Amanda Thomas (Account Manager) and Martin Anderson (Regional Director) from Molson Coors.

“It’s great to finish the season with a trophy,” said Canton skipper Danny McGrath after he lifted the cup.

“We knew they were a good side and weren’t going to be pushovers; we didn’t underestimate them and named our strongest squad.

“We started quick and then every time we scored, they seemed to come back at us.

“In fairness to the boys, we didn’t panic when we fell behind and then for the last 15-20 minutes, it was just all about defence and keeping them out which, luckily, we managed to do.”

Despite their season ending in defeat, it has still been one to remember for Dinas Powys – who took the decision to drop from Division One East Central all the way down to Division Five East Central ahead of this season after hitting hard times.

But, with a team packed with players who have come through the club’s junior and youth ranks, the Vale of Glamorgan club have been rejuvenated this season.

Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC East District – Malcolm Thomas Cup
Dinas Powys RFC v Canton RFC
Mandatory Credit ©ReplayImages/Mike Jones

John Dunleavy’s side won the league with a 100 per cent winning record and four games to spare, while also reached the Principality Stadium in the Division Five Cup final where they lost out to Seven Sisters.

Dinas also reached the quarter-finals of the Glamorgan County Silver Ball where they went toe-to-toe with Three West Central title challengers and eventual Silver Ball runners-up Abercrave.

“Considering where we were last July, we can go into next season with a lot of confidence,” said head coach Dunleavy.

“It took a while for us to hit our straps but they’ve come together as a team and we’ve grown and grown through the season.

“Over the past few months we’ve played some good quality teams from the West Central Division Five in the cup, played Aberavon in the Silver Ball, and again against Canton it has provided the boys with a massive confidence boost to realise they can compete with Division Three sides.

“There’s nothing to stop us pushing on into Division Four and challenging in that division.”

Scorers:

Canton: Tries: S Durnan, H Morgan-Grant, P Hill; Cons: H Morgan-Grant (2); Pens H Morgan-Grant (2).

Dinas Powys: Tries: C Anderson; A Szuchnik (2); Cons: C Anderson (2)
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