Welsh Schools Cup final:
Ysgol Y Preseli 17-19 Llanishen High
YSGOL Y Preseli’s historic run in the Welsh Schools Cup ended in an agonising defeat as Llanishen High overturned a 17-7 half time deficit to edge home by two points at the Millennium Stadium.
More than 700 supporters made the journey to Cardiff to support Gethin Vobe and Mark Lloyd’s side, and they were given reason to cheer just two minutes in.
Scrum half Ilan Jones went blind from a scrum 20 metres out, and offloaded to centre Elgan Wilson who raced under the posts before converting his own try.
But sloppy play immediately allowed the Cardiff based side back into it. From the kick off two spilt passes presented Llanishen with a scrum five, and scrum half Gareth Cleaver set up full back Gareth Waterlaws to score. No 8 Lewis Marshall converted via the post.
However, just 11 minutes in Preseli were in front again when a Llanishen move broke down in midfield, and winger Carwyn Vaughan hacked ahead from half way and kept his nerve to touch down. Wilson converted superbly from wide out.
The same player added three more points with a well struck penalty after a surge from full back Dylan Thomas, and at that point the Pembrokeshire side were well on top as Llanishen struggled to penetrate them up front or in midfield.
Just before the break a break by Preseli outside half Carwyn James came to nothing when he couldn’t quite find Vaughan with the scoring pass, and Wilson was just short with a long range penalty – but Preseli maintained their 17-7 lead at the break.
But the second half couldn’t have started worse for them, as Llanishen centre Owen Davies crashed over from 20 metres out and Matthews converted.
Then came a crucial moment - a period of heavy Preseli pressure, led by two powerful bursts from prop Scott Jenkins, so nearly resulted in a try when James moved play to the right and winger Vaughan was bundled into touch just inches short of the line.
The Cardiff side then turned the screw and began to dominate the lineout and forward exchanges. Second row Adan Nyhan thought he’d scored from a rolling maul - but referee Morgan Whitehead called him back for an infringement.
But Llanishen kept the pressure on and after the Preseli defence did superbly to repel a series of forward drives – No 8 Matthews buried over in the corner. After a long deliberation, referee Whitehead awarded the try.
Wilson had a chance to put Preseli back in front when he pushed a penalty wide of the posts, and their hopes took a further blow when winger Gareth Gibby was sin binned for a dangerous tackle with five minutes left.
To Llanishen’s credit, they ran down the clock effectively in the final minutes and starved Preseli of much needed possession, before the final whistle sparked off big celebrations for the Cardiff side.
“We were excellent in the first half but maybe went into our shells a bit in the second half,” said Preseli school teacher Vobe.
“But in fairness to them, they were a strong side and used their pack and the rolling maul really well.
“They also put our lineout under a lot of pressure and we couldn’t get the possession we needed after half time.”
But despite the defeat, Ysgol Y Preseli can take pride in a tremendous cup run in which they beat four highly regarded sides, all away from home, to reach the final for the first time in the school's history.
Ysgol Y Preseli: Dylan Thomas, Carwyn Vaughan, Tomos Phillips, Elgan Wilson, Gethin Gibby, Carwyn James, Scott Jenkins, Ifan Phillips, Michael Ryan, Morgan Lewis, Guto Davies, Rhodri Evans, Llyr Davies, Steffan Howells (capt).
Replacements: Mark Tamlin, Trystan Phillips, Osian Evans, Gethin James, Llyr Edwards, Llyr Miles, Ifan Phillips.
Llanishen High: Gareth Waterlaws, Tom Warren, Miles Anderson, Owen Davies, James Chapman, Owain Griffiths, Gareth Cleaver, Nick Jones, Josh Thomas, James Dunne, Frank Dacey, Adam Nyhan, John Lloyd, George Junis, Lewis Marshall (capt).
Replacements: Shaun Lynch, Ben McNamara, Will Juniper, Josh Moore, Daniel Morgan, Adam Champ, Ieuan Mercer.
Referee: Morgan Whitehead.
Assistants: Nigel Jones, Ian Jones.