First-half points blitz helps carry Quins into second round
AN excellent first-half display gave Carmarthen Quins an emphatic win at Narberth in the second round of the Swalec Cup.
It could have been a potential banana skin encounter for the Premiership outfit, but they were too strong.
The Quins made every use of the wind behind their backs in the first half to take the game away from the Otters, scoring five cracking tries, three of which were converted by fly-half James Dixon.
It was the result of a powerful performance, quick thinking, presence of mind, pace, skill, tenacity and the ability to seize the initiative.
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Half-chances were snapped up in a scintillating running and handling display which gained applause from the home faithful.
A sign of things to come was the first try scored by lively centre Alex Pickersgill within 30 seconds of the kick-off.
Three minutes later Narberth wing James Russell clawed back three points with a penalty.
Centre Rheon James scored the next try near the left corner and the third try was scored by scrum-half Rhodri Wells, again close to the left corner.
It was followed by a terrific try by Quins full-back Chris Banfield, following a move which started inside his own half. It resulted from a counter-attack in response to a Narberth kick ahead which went to hand and not into space.
Minutes before half-time, Wells picked up his second try of the match, with Dixon landing his third conversion.
The stage was set for a cricket score by the Quins in the second half, but much to the relief of Narberth's supporters, the home side produced a fighting display which prevented any further score by the visitors until injury time.
Midway through the second half fly-half Stuart Morris scored a splendid solo try for the hosts as he sliced through the Quins defence to touch down near the posts. Russell converted.
More pressure by the Otters resulted in a penalty try being awarded which Russell failed to convert, with the ball falling over on the point of impact.
Although the Quins were reduced to 14 men when flanker Ellis Lloyd was yellow-carded, Narberth failed to press home their numerical advantage.
Late into injury time, Banfield completed the scoring for the afternoon with an unconverted try for the visitors in the right corner.
Narberth director of rugby Jonathan Dodd said: "It was a fair result as Carmarthen Quins are a very strong side with far more powerful ball carriers. In the first half we stood off the ball and may have given them too much respect and as a result they took advantage to score some soft tries, which was particularly disappointing.
"In contrast ,we fought back well in the second half in a very good display and were rewarded with two tries as we put the Quins under some pressure.
"Conditions were a factor, particularly the wind and it was hard to get into the game in the first half.
"Carmarthen Quins put our set-piece under more pressure than we are used when we play in the Championship."
Match sponsors, the parents and friends of Narberth Under-14s and Castell Howell of Cross Hands named Narberth lock Alec Jenkins as man of the match.
There was also solid Narberth performances by flanker Wayne Williams and skipper Steve Martin.