ABERAVON Quins ran out winners over The Bulls in a nail-biting encounter to lift them to fifth place in Division 2 West.
Early pressure came from the visitors, and the Quins’ defence was stretched but held firm. The Quins’ scrum also came under early pressure, with the Builth forwards swarming to the attack before the impressive No.8, Ben Duggan, crashed over. John Thurston converted for a deserved lead.
The Quins looked a little jaded, and it was the reliable boot of Marc Sheppard that kept his side in touch with two long-range penalty goals. Attacks by the Quins were sporadic, but the home side raised a cheer when a break by scrum half Nathan Flynn almost created a try for winger Jamie Lean. Left-winger Stuart Dighton always looked a dangerous runner.
Thurston was also in fine kicking form and stretched the lead with a penalty, but Sheppard gave the Quins a 12-10 lead at half time with two more penalties.
The game was played at high tempo, and the pace never slackened in the second half. Many Bulls attacks foundered on the hard-tackling Quins three-quarters, but it was the visiting eight that set up a wave of attacks which finally resulted in giant prop Jim Healy crashing over for a close range try. The score was converted by Thurston, who soon added a penalty to make it 20-12 to the visitors.
The Quins then stepped up their efforts and abandoned the persistent kicking of the first half in favour of a running game. The scrum was more settled, and line out expert Liam Pucket revelled in James Davies’s accurate throwing to dominate line out possession and also managed to snaffle some of the Builth throws.
Gareth Pugh continually probed the Builth defence and great forward support from Craig Cox, Dan Phillips and Dan Webb meant Quins gained a foothold in the opposing 22 before Flynn nipped over for a smart blind side try. Sheppard goaled from the touchline.
Quins appeared to be gaining the upper hand and they took the lead when hooker James Davies gathered a kick ahead and dashed over for a try.
Thurston hit back with another penalty goal, and the Quins were subjected to enormous try line pressure from the visiting eight, who were camped on the line for minutes on end, but the Quins defence bordered on the heroic.
Builth’s fate was sealed when Stuart Dighton broke out of defence and full back Alex Condon crowned an impressive display by scoring a try which Sheppard converted. Two more penalties were to come from Thurston, but Sheppard ensured a first ever Quins victory over Builth with his fifth goal.
Sponsor Tetrosyl’s man of the match was Marc Sheppard.