It was a day of contrasting emotions for Caerphilly and Penallta at Finals Day 2017.
The Castlemen, contesting their first cup final in 13 years, gave a good account of themselves in their National Bowl clash with Amman United but ultimately fell short to some magic from a former British and Irish Lion, before Penallta left it late to edge past Ystalyfera, lift the National Plate, and avenge their own late loss 12 months ago.
Amman United 43-31 Caerphilly: Caerphilly arrived at the Principality Stadium on Sunday April 16 having defied the odds to reach Finals Day.
The Castlemen hadn’t played in a major final since 2004, and were determined to make the most of the occasion.
It was Amman, boasting the talents of former Wales and Lions winger Shane Williams, who made the breakthrough however, as Williams shrugged off tackles from Tom Candy and Gareth England to score in the corner.
Caerphilly hit back with a score from Chris Thomas, before Matthew Hurley crossed to give his side the lead.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued right up to the half-time whistle, as Gavin Lewis nudged Amman ahead, before Shaun Cadell hit back immediately after Gareth Dare had scored the try of the day, bumping and twisting his way through several defenders. Caerphilly led 21-20 at half-time.
Amman’s scrum-half, Joel Foster, proved to be the difference in the second half, kicking four penalties around scores from Chris Rees and Matthew Nuthall, as a late yellow card for No.8 Josh Hayward left Caerphilly with too much to do.
The Castlemen also had to contend with losing captain England on the hour mark, with the second-row since undergoing knee surgery.
Penallta 16-16 Ystalyfera: Penallta banished their demons of 2016 with a late victory over Ystalyfera in the National Plate.
Joseph Scrivens got the scoreboard moving with two penalties, before second-row Corey Tucker received a lovely offload to beat two Ystalyfera defenders on his way to the line.
Ystalyfera flanker Jesse Patton was sent off after just 20 minutes for an apparent headbutt, but it galvanised the Swansea side.
They were awarded a penalty try at the scrum, before Steffan Castle’s drop goal put them ahead at 16-11 with ten minutes left.
Penallta hit back in the 79th minute through Max George, and after Scrivens missed the conversion, it was announced that the Pitmen had won on try-count – a decision deemed by some to be harsh on Ystalyfera, who more than held their own with 14 men for over an hour.