Borderers suffer derby defeat as Otters fine season continues
WHITLAND'S poor season continued as they lost to derby rivals Narberth in a game that was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
With just one draw, five defeats and three points to show for their efforts, hosting Narberth after such a disappointing start would not have ranked highly on Whitland's wish list.
The Otters have only lost twice this season which, given the standard they are playing at this year, is quite an achievement.
They would have known, however, that despite the contrasting fortunes of the two teams, come the big day form often goes out the window.
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This proved to be the case throughout a bruising game that was attritional without being flamboyant.
The visitors may have scored three tries — all of which were converted by Rhys Roberts — to the home team's one, yet two of these were controversial.
The first came from a penalty try when the home scrum collapsed on their line and the other arrived in the second half when Roberts went to line up for a penalty, caught the home team napping after they were penalised ten yards for back chat, and sprinted into the left-hand corner to score an opportunist try.
Narberth's other try came in the second half when Steve Martin arched his way over the line and Whitland's score came through wing Tomi Jones after Scott Newton's break led to good interlinking between backs and forwards.
Newton missed with that conversion as he did with three penalty attempts, the first of which would have given them the initiative early on in the contest.
With little given up front, Narberth had the slight edge in the backs with Johnny Morgan looking lively and the centre partnership of Martin and Nick Jones holding the aces in defence.
Conditions were ideal for a feast of running rugby but that was never going to be the case in such a derby.
Narberth wanted to keep hold of their winning momentum while Whitland were looking to stop the rot and gain a bit of self-belief, a trait that coach Randal Evans says they lack.
"The difference at this level is that teams punish your mistakes and take their opportunities," he said.
"We are not.
"We're killing ourselves by doing silly things. I don't think we're that far off.
"We've got the players to do it but for some reason we're not doing it on the pitch. The players just have to believe they can."
While Evans's frustrations were palpable, Narberth coaches Sean Gale and Jonathan Dodd were both delighted.
"We're playing better this year than we did last year despite the step up in level," said Dodd.
Gale added: "The players are sticking to their plans and we've cut the try count against us because our defence is so good.
"We were a bit lucky with that third try but we deserved to win the game."