2nd August 2014, 20:37
Blue Bulls and Titans reach the finals
Finals line up almost complete
TORFAEN TIGERS 20 BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS 36
The Blue Bulls were never behind in this dominant performance that gives them a place in the Grand Final in their very first season back in the competition writes Paul Hart at Cwmbran RFC.
The torrential rain that threatened to effect this fixture arrived early and was all finished by the time the game kicked off so the Bulls were able to play the open expansive free-flowing rugby that has seen them win their last five matches.
The Bulls were on the scoresheet early through winger Xavier Manaseitava and after the Tigers were penalised for two high tackles in quick succession prop Owen Thomas ran in his 13th try from a trademark angle. Gareth Howells added the extras to make it 10-0.
Dual-Code veteran Howells then showed a touch a class with a deft grubber kick through the Tigers defence which he touched down for a try and converted himself.
With a quarter of the game gone the Bulls were in complete control at 16-0 and the lead was soon 20 as former Wales U20s full-back Huw Rosser skipped past three challenges and floated a long pass out wide for Manaseitava to score his second of the day.
By this point in the Bulls previous meeting with the Tigers enigmatic Tongan Tylon Mafi was already on his second visit to the sin bin, but this week he lasted until the 27th minute before succumbing to the provocation from the Tigers to take his ten minute rest.
With the Bulls down to twelve men the Tigers sought to capitalise which they did though a simple move from Student Pioneers star Sean Pattimore.
There was still time on the clock for the Bulls to reply and after an excellent break from Owen Thomas, Keiran Hooper was able cross the line and send the Bulls into half-time with a comfortable 26-4 lead.
The emphasis for the second half was defence as the Bulls looked to hold onto their lead of 22 points. They did this successfully for 20 minutes as very little happened between the 40th and 60th minute with the Bulls showing they could cope with whatever moves the Tigers came up with.
The Tigers eventually crossed after 60 minutes through Shaun Watkins, but the score was met with a surprising silence which must have been music to the Bulls players' ears as it appeared that the Tigers players didn't think they were able to get back into the game. But when the same player scored just three minutes later the Tigers celebrated the try as at 14-26 the scoreline was looking a lot less daunting.
The Bulls had switched off and needed to get back in the game. Right on cue full-back Huw Rosser rose majestically to catch a high kick and after making 20yards laid the ball off to electric half-back Kieran Hooper to score his 2nd of the game and pushing the score up to 30-14.
Hooper was involved again moments later as he was on the receiving end of a high tackle from Tigers Player/Coach Jamie Williams who was sent to the bin and any hopes of a Tigers comeback went with him.
The win was sealed when Chairman Lee Harben-Jones gave a lovely one-handed lay off to Rosser who crossed for his 13th try of the season.
There was still time for Shaun Watkins to get his hat-trick for the Tigers after a fine run by Liam Silver, but this was little more than a consolation as the Bulls ran out comfortable 36-20 winners.
The Bulls now play Aber Valley Wolves in the Grand Final at Taffs Well on the 17th. The Wolves are the only side to have beaten the Bulls this season, so a huge match is expected.
WELSH CONFERENCE SHIELD SEMI-FINAL
NEWPORT TITANS 32 CARDIFF DEMONS 24
Newport Titans survived and early scare and came back from 18-0 down to beat a much-improved Cardiff Demons side 32-24 and reach the Welsh Conference Shield Final writes James Harris.
Titans ran out 66-16 victors when the two sides last met and were favourites for victory, although the visitors dominated the opening 30-minutes.
A mixture of Titans poor discipline and mistakes, coupled with some good play from the Demons, saw them carve out an 18-point lead with three converted tries through Callum McCabe, Dan Crimmins and Kyle Rose, Dan Henderson converting all three as the Newport side conceded nine first-half penalties.
Ross Palmer started the Titans comeback when he broke clear down the wing to score the first of three Titans tries in the last five-minutes before half time.
The second of those came from Craig Lewis after a superb lofted pass by Dean Higgs, while Julian Poole knocked over the conversion.
And their third try in five-minutes came from a clever training ground move as Poole dinked a quick penalty over the Demons backline for Lewis to run on to and score, making it 14-18 at halftime.
Both sides had a player sin binned at the start of the second period for fighting before the Titans scored a try to level the scores, and another Poole conversion saw the Newport side take the lead for the first time in the game.
The impressive Lewis then completed his hat-trick and nearly had another, but was denied by a superb last ditch Demons tackle just shy of the line.
Jamie Westacott scored the Titans’ sixth try of the day with a powerful run, before then setting up Palmer who made it 32-18.
Demons put in a strong performance and scored a late consolation via Crimmins that Henderson goaled, but Titans held on for a 32-24 semi-final victory and now have a shot at silverware in their 10th anniversary season.
They will face either Valley Cougars or Cardiff Spartans in the Welsh Conference Shield Final, with the other semi taking place on Wednesday night.