2022 South Wales Rugby League Grand Finals Day Reports CopIn a successful finals day at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli, 1,527 fans came through the gate to see six fantastic matches of rugby league. Reports by Ian Golden, photos by Ian Lovell.
U10 CONFERENCE FINAL
ABER VALLEY WOLVES 20 CYNON VALLEY CAVALIERS 12
The U10 Conference Final, played in 20 minute halves with no kicking at goal, was won by Aber Valley Wolves, but not without Cynon Valley Cavaliers pushing them all the way.
Judah Skuse dived over to give Aber Valley a fourth minute lead and Hywel Evans doubled that from the next play.
Harri Watkins made it 12-0 on nine minutes after good build up work from Evans.
Cavaliers hit back with a Rylee-James Davies try on 17 minutes before Evans ran over the half the length of the pitch for a fourth Wolves try to make it 16-4 at half-time.
James-Davies forced his way over for his side’s second try on 27 minutes before a Jonah James try put them to within a score of being level.
However Cian Wyatt forced his way over a try with two minutes to go to secure Wolves’ win.
U10 PREMIER FINAL
CYNON VALLEY CAVALIERS 8 ABER VALLEY WOLVES 8
In the U10s Premier Final, played between the same two clubs, it was even closer, as the score was 8-8 at both half-time and full-time. And as the 10-minutes of sudden death extra time had no further scores, the game was declared a draw and the trophy was shared.
The two sides exchanged early tries with Mason Lloyd opening the scoring for Wolves, before Fynly Thomas levelled things for the Cavaliers.
A Harvey Fairbairn scored restored the Wolves lead, before Zach Richard scored right on the half-time whistle to bring it back to 8-8.
With the wet conditions taking their toll, it was getting tough for either side to break through, and as the game went into the final minute, with the scores still level, there was a long delay due to an injury to Wolves’ Iestyn Outing, dislocating his knee in a tackle.
The match went into golden point extra time, and that still didn’t produce a winner, despite efforts from either side. Cynon Valley Cavaliers players received the gold medals for finishing top of the table.
UNDER 12 FINAL
CYNON VALLEY CAVALIERS 18 PONTYCLUN KINGS 10
Cynon Valley Cavaliers sealed the U12 trophy in a well-fought 25-minutes each way final against a Pontyclun Kings side who did well to reach the final in their first year as a club.
Cavaliers took an early lead through an Alfie Archer try that Jack Field converted.
Kings soon hit back through an unconverted Frank Jackson score, but Cavaliers extended their advantage on 14 minutes when Oliver Andrews forced his way over and Field converted.
The score was 12-4 at half-time, but a yellow card, given to Cavaliers’ Alfie Archer for a high tackle, gave Kings the advantage for the first few minutes after the break, but the Cynon defence held firm.
Cavaliers had possession for much of the second half, looking to extend their lead, and with six minutes to go, Finlay Blenkinshop-Clarke chased his own kick and dived to score. Field added the extras again.
Pontyclun had the final say with a well-worked try scored by Zander Hobrough and converted by Louis Morgan but it wasn’t enough to stop Cynon’s celebrations.
UNDER 14 FINAL
ABER VALLEY WOLVES 12 TORFAEN TIGERS 10
The U14 Final, which was 25-minutes per half, was edged 12-10 by Aber Valley Wolves, as the unlucky Torfaen Tigers lost their tenth Grand Final in a row as a club.
A fifth minute try from Jake Thomas, converted by Evan Williams, gave Torfaen the lead.
Aber Valley hit back ten minutes later when Raith Martin scored in the corner, and he followed that up with a second try from the next set. Both went unconverted.
Wolves went into the break 8-6 up and it took 15 minutes for another score to be recorded, this time through William Ford who leapt on his own chip to put the score onto 12-6.
The Tigers mauled at the Wolves defence and with seconds remaining, Lewis Appleby scored in the corner. Evan Williams couldn’t land the conversion and Torfaen’s Grand Final hoodoo continued.
UNDER 16 FINAL
BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS 38 ABER VALLEY WOLVES 8
Bridgend stormed to an U16 Grand Final win, beating Aber Valley Wolves 38-8 in the most one-sided final of the day.
It took just over a minute for Jake Nottingham to dive in the corner and give Bridgend the lead.
Jayden Grey’s try near to the sticks doubled the lead, with Charlie Stoddart converting to put the score onto 10-0 after just five minutes.
Lloyd Nash scored a try back for Wolves, but Rhys Thomas ran though on 20 minutes to again extend Bridgend’s lead. Stoddart converted.
It wasn’t long before Gethin Manning ran through for Bridgend’s fourth try. Stoddart goaled again to make the score 22-4 at half-time.
It took 13 second half minutes, but Bridgend eventually did get their fifth of the game, Ollie Edwards diving over and Stoddart converting.
Rhys Thomas scored Bridgend’s next try, going over in the corner. Grey then followed this up with his second and Bridgend’s seventh of the game. Stoddart converted again.
A Lewis Jones try for Aber Valley near to the end of the game was just consolation.
THE 19TH MEN’S SOUTH WALES GRAND FINAL
RHONDDA OUTLAWS 22 ABERAVON FIGHTING IRISH 20
Rhondda Outlaws won the South Wales men’s Grand Final for the second time after beating Aberavon Fighting Irish 22-20 at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli.
Star of the show for the Outlaws was former professional Steve Parry, who became the first player to score a hat-trick of tries twice in Welsh Grand Finals.
The 33-year old initially did this in the 2008 WRL Grand Final for Valley Cougars, and now he has repeated this feat 14 years later for his current club, Rhondda Outlaws.
Following that initial final in Bridgend as a teenager, he was signed up for Celtic Crusaders Reserves, then went on to play for South Wales Scorpions, Gloucestershire All Golds and West Wales Raiders and also won 15 caps for Wales including appearances in the 2017 World Cup.
It was just the fifth time that a player has scored a hat-trick in this showpiece game. Grant Epton (Bridgend Blue Bulls, 2005), Nathan Trowbridge (Bridgend Blue Bulls, 2011) and Dafydd Hellard (Valley Cougars, 2017) being the others.
The Outlaws were quick to take the lead and it came through a trademark Parry try, diving low to score, and Chris Harris converted.
Aberavon hit back on nine minutes. Scott Whitlock ran though but Isaac Morgan couldn’t land the conversion.
Outlaws extended their lead on 16 minutes, again through Parry, which again Harris improved.
Again the Irish fought back. Dylan McLachlan dived over from close range and Morgan converted.
Straight away, the Outlaws scored again. Parry was denied a third try, stopped centimetres short of the line, but from the next play, Alex Langworthy dived over. Harris couldn’t convert.
But Parry wasn’t to be denied, as clinched his hat-trick on 34 minutes, the first player since Trowbridge to score three tries in one half in the final. Harris converted and Rhondda went into the break 22-10 up.
Aberavon struck first in the second half through a Morgan Meaclem try that Morgan couldn’t convert.
It was 22-20 on the hour when giant prop Brett Thomas stormed through for Aberavon and Morgan converted.
Outlaws were most dominant for the final period of the game, looking for another try to secure their win. Parry was short on one attack and with just two minutes to go, Cody Rees dropped the ball under pressure as diving for the line.
But despite not scoring in the second half, the Outlaws held on for a dramatic win.