20th July 2013, 16:41
COUGARS FINISH ON TOP
VALLEY INTO THE SW CONFERENCE GRAND FINAL AFTER BIG WIN AT DEMONS
(Picture: Valley Cougars hooker Martin Luckwell (centre) waits to take the play-the-ball against Cardiff Demons on Saturday)
By Gary Baker at St Peters RFC, Cardiff
VALLEY COUGARS sealed their place as the South Wales Conference top side with a 12-try victory over Cardiff Demons at St Peters RFC in the capital city on Saturday.
It means that the Cougars are in the Grand Final next month where they will play either second-placed Torfaen Tigers or the Demons for the title.
And, while both sides were short of a number of key players, the Cougars had the strength in depth to secure a 66-16 win.
Wales hooker Martin Luckwell and prop Steve Bray both scored try-hatricks for the Cougars but it was only later in the second-half that they ran away with the game as the Demons put in a good performance in patches.
Luckwell got the game off to a flyer for the Cougars as he went over on the right for a converted try but the Demons hit back on 11 minutes when team manager/player Idris Evans caught the visitors napping and went over under the posts to make Dan Henderson's conversion a formality.
And it was touch and go between the sides for half-an-hour of the match as Cougars' tries from Mike Hurley and Lee Goddard against an unconverted Liam Carey touchdown for Cardiff made it 14-10 at one stage.
The Demons' determination was also seen when their defence tracked back to deny Valley winger Corey Clark a try in the corner although the Cougars' flyer had to come off with a muscle pull.
But tries from Gareth Way and Luckwell's second, which was a magnificent ninty yard effort in which he bypassed the entire Demons side to score under the posts, both converted by stand-off Paul Emmanuelli, took the Cougars into a 26-10 lead and, when big Scott Giles thundered over for a converted try to make it 32-10, there was no way back for the Demons.
Chris Tune grabbed a touchdown for the home side, that Henderson converted, but then another Cougar came to the fore in Bray. He crashed over for his first try on 52 minutes.
Mike Jones added eighth Cougars try as he squeezed in at the corner for Emmanuelli to brilliantly convert from the touchline before Luckwell completed his hat-trick.
Matthew Powell stormed over for another on 66 minutes as the Cougars went up a gear and Bray had the final two words with tries on 74 and 79 minutes to finish off a successful Conference regular season for the Treharris-based outfit.
Emmanuelli said afterwards: “We had about 12 first choice boys out so this sort of victory just shows the strength we have in our squad. It makes my job harder now, though, because I will have to disappoint a lot of players in the squad who won't make it to the final cut for the Grand Final.”