Clive Griffiths' first home game in charge of RGC 1404 got off to a flying start with a 12-6 victory over a strong Worcester Warriors 'A' side that included many first team squad members.
On a cold evening, with the pitch quite heavy underfoot this was never going to be a free-flowing game. However, Worcester came charging out of the blocks and looked like they may blow RGC 1404 away in the first 15 minutes. Joe Carlisle was controlling things from fly-half, but RGC's defence held strong and they survived the barrage only 3-0 down.
After weathering the storm, the RGC forwards started to take control; working their rolling mauls well and proving good, quick ball for the backs. This pressure soon turned to points and they were 6-3 up thanks to two penalties from Stephen Woodward. Further penalties followed and just before the half-time interval RGC 1404 found themselves camped on Worcester's try line, but their stubborn defence held out and so the whistle went with the score being 12-6 to RGC 1404.
Something must have been said in the RGC 1404 changing room at half-time as inside centre Nick Blevin started to come into the game more, creating gaps in the Worcester defence. One of these breaks saw the ball being shipped out quickly and winger Nathan Rees capitalised with a try in the corner. Although this wasn't converted, a penalty did soon follow and RGC 1404 found themselves 20-6 in front.
As the early defending had revitalised RGC 1404 in the first half, the same could be said towards the end of the game for Worcester who came back at RGC 1404. Winger Rees, so recently the hero, was now the villain as he was sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away after a tackle. The extra man soon paid dividends and Worcester full back, Chris Surman, found a hole in the thinly spread defence to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was missed and the score remained 20-11 at the final whistle.
This was a brilliant result for RGC 1404, as Worcester had inflicted a heavy defeat (72-3) on their last visit to Parc Eirias. Coach Clive Griffiths was delighted with his new look team: "this result shows a massive turnaround in the fortunes of North Wales rugby in the last 12 months. I'm naturally delighted to put one over on my former club, but more importantly I'm delighted to see the team gelling further and becoming a cohesive unit. There are still areas to improve upon, and we will address these in the next few weeks, with all flaws being ironed out"
Following on from the victory over Glamorgan Wanderers two weeks ago, Griffiths also added: "this is the creation of a small piece of history for RGC 1404. To have defeated Premiership teams from England and Wales in consecutive games is no mean feat and I'm absolutely delighted for those who initiated this project. It took Worcester 79 minutes to unlock our defence and that was only once we were down to 14 men. The game may have not been ideal for rugby purists, but we are working hard to look at the new laws at the breakdown area and once these have been addressed, we will start playing rugby to delight the supporters".
A crowd of over 500 people watched the game at Parc Eirias, defying the freezing night to cheer on the team. "I hope that we can develop a hardcore support to get as many people as possible to Parc Eirias" added Griffiths.
Next up for RGC 1404 is a home game against Sale Jets at Parc Eirias on Wednesday 24th November. Advanced tickets are available at a reduced rate through Venue Cymru on 01492 872000.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.