Usk 22-21 Caerphilly
Saturday May 13, Usk
Caerphilly failed to take the Division 3 East A title by the narrowest of margins on Saturday May 13, as they went down by a solitary point to Usk at the Red Shed Meadow to hand the championship to Hartridge.
Following on from a 53-12 victory over Chepstow midweek, Caerphilly need only to beat Usk to be crowned as champions, but the match proved to a step too far the Castlemen, who played five matches in two weeks.
Usk were on the scoresheet early into proceedings, as they secured lineout ball to drive for the try-line. Lock Dan Hollier crossed with the ball, and outside-half Josh Guy added the extras.
Tom Candy – who scored five against Chepstow – touched down from the wing, but Usk hit back immediately as full-back Iorath Williams found a gap in the visitors’ defence to score from half-way. Guy missed the conversion, but the hosts scored again on the stroke of half-time as Hollier grabbed his second of the afternoon.
There was enough time for Caerphilly’s outside-half Matthew Hurley to kick three points before the interval, but the Castlemen were 17-8 down.
The hosts clinched their bonus-point try within a minute of the restart. Taking play up to the half-way line, centre Jo Edwards collected a kick forward with defenders on the back foot to go over in the corner and take a 22-8 lead.
Hurley grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and forced his way through the Usk line after lock Mark Siddons was shown a yellow card. Hurley’s conversion and another two penalties set up a tense finish with eight minutes remaining.
Deep into injury time, and with a penalty to the left of the posts, Caerphilly had a chance to snatch the victory and the league title.
Hurley, so often the cool-headed kicker, couldn’t add to his season haul of over 400 points as the penalty slipped inches past the left-hand post, and the narrow defeat confirmed Hartridge as Division 3 East A winners.
However, after a National Cup final and promotion to Division 2 East, Caerphilly have shone beyond expectation.
• Match report and photography by Mark Tamplin of Caerphilly RFC.