Pontyclun Falcons 1

Lucky 13 . . . The Pontyclun Falcons Take Flight In WRU Cup Final

By David Parsons

Who said 13 was an unlucky number? Try telling that to the proud players of Pontyclun Falcons, who finally won a major cup final at the 13th attempt as they beat Llandaff North to life the WRU National Cup in a thrilling game at Principality Stadium.

The long wait to finally lift a trophy was ended by Kierra Deeks and her tenacious team as they knocked arch-rivals completely out of their stride to convert a 15-0 half-time lead into a sensational 20-7 victory in the end

Deeks’ played her part to the full by scoring two tries, but it was the all-round resilience and tough tackling of her team that secured a famous victory.

“We worked very hard to get this victory – from players, to coaches, and all the other helpers at the club. We are finally bringing a cup home for the Falcons, and it is for everyone at the club,” said Deeks.

“Our defence had been one of the things that had let us down in the past, so we worked hard on it, and we absolutely smashed it tonight. We were clinical.

“This means a lot to us and certainly makes up for losing to North in the pool stages of the competition.”

Llandaff North had walked away with the South Wales Cup last year when they visited Principality Stadium and were seen as slight favourites to go one better in the National competition this time round. They started strongly, but simply couldn’t find a way to penetrate the tough as teak Falcons defence.

Wales rugby league international Shaunni Davies was a tower of strength in midfield alongside her centre partner Sophie Peters and fellow three-quarters Rafiuke Taylor, Niamh Tinman and Leanne Burnell followed their lead.

Outside half Brogan Jones mixed things up nicely for the Falcons with her kicking out of hand and ensured they played a sound territory game. The set-piece was dominated in the first half by North, but when the replacements began to flood on to the pitch after the break the pendulum swung in favour of the Falcons.

Jones opened the scoring with a penalty in the 16th minute after her side had soaked up immense early pressure and then Deeks struck with her first try. It turned out to be a bit of a gift as she snapped up an intended overhead pass by North wing Catrin Turner on the 22 and simply raced gleefully to the posts.

Jones had no problem in adding the conversion and the game had been turned on its head within the space of two minutes. The North cause took another blow soon after when full back Amber Ruck left with the field with a shoulder injury after 25 minutes.

Worse still, her replacement Tori Harte picked up a yellow card for an offence at a breakdown on her own 10 metre line just before the break and within a minute the Falcons had struck again. A miss-directed throw in at a line-out in their 22 cost North a defensive scrum and a slick back line move involving outside half Jones, full back Leanne Burnell and the outstanding Tinman ended with the latter scoring two minutes before the break.

It was an uphill struggle for North after they changed ends 15 points in arrears, but they redoubled their efforts, improved their efficiency and got right back into the game with a try by No 8 Keely Ward from a push over scrum.

Claudia Meyrick added the extras and all of a sudden the game was back in the melting pot at 15-7 with half-an-hour till to play. North had hope to win enough ball to release their free running back division, but danger woman Zoe Heeley never got enough possession on the front foot.

Wings Heeley and Turner, as well as centres Meyrick and Molly Philpott, couldn’t find the key to unlock the Falcons defence and even when they found themselves with an extra player, when Wales Six Nations squad member Charlie Mundy was sent to the bin for a high tackle on the hour mark, they couldn’t make it count.

In fact, it was the Falcons who scored the only points while Munday was off the field for 10 minutes. A high-speed race downfield after a hack ahead by Burnell from her 22 seemed to be destined for a Falcons score until the ball bounced back off a post pad and the full back knocked on as she attempted to pick it up and dot down.

Having made up all that ground, Pontyclun were in no mood to surrender their advantage. Peters forced a North player over her own line in a tackle to earn a scrum and after three attempts to crash over, the Falcons laid the ball on a plate for Deeks to snipe her way to the try line for her second score.

The scrum half couldn’t convert her own score, but it didn’t matter. There was no way back for North after that try and it was all over bar the shouting.

Scorers: Llandaff North Ladies: Try: Keely Ward; Con: Claudia Meyrick. Pontyclun Falcons: Tries: Kierra Deeks 2, Niamh Tinman; Con: Brogan Jones; Pen: Brogan Jones

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