Division Three West A: Milford Haven 85–5 Pembroke Dock Harlequins

Just champion.

After four seasons of knocking on the door, Milford Haven have been promoted from Division Three West A as league winners after dismantling Pembroke Dock Harlequins 85-5 in their final game of the season this afternoon.

Defeat in Aberaeron earlier this month had left the Mariners sweating with their title destiny suddenly out of their hands, but Laugharne’s thrilling 32-31 win over the Mid-Wales side in midweek re-opened the door.

And the players as well as coaches Nathan Williams, Steve Martin and Andrew Williams, were in no mood to let their opportunity slip. Milford ran in 13 tries at The Obs, with Sam Dolling grabbing four of them, meaning they cannot be caught by Aberaeron despite the latter winning 29-14 in Neyland this afternoon and still having a game to play.

And the euphoria afterwards was evident after club captain Jamie Lewis lifted the silverware with the retiring Mark Wonnacott, in what was a fairy-tale finish for undoubtedly one of the club’s best players in recent history.

For player- coach Williams, it also rounded off a successful homecoming after opting to retire from professional rugby and take charge of the Mariners last summer.

“I’m really proud,” he told Telegraph Sport.

“The only reason I took this on was because Milford are my home town club and I could see the potential here. They’ve had some ups and downs these past few years and got close to the title so for the players to have this is fantastic.

“I think what proved so important was our depth. We’ve used more than 30 players this season and they’ve all done a big job for us.”

   Wonnacott waves goodbye in style:

   For No 8 Wonnacott, who walked onto the field to a guard of             honour from both sets of players and club junior members, it was     an emotional afternoon as he bowed out by winning his first ever       senior honour as a Mariner.

“I’m done,” he said without hesitation.

“Playing for this club has meant a lot to me and I’m over the moon to be able to finish like this.

“I’m going to enjoy this day and remember it for a very long time.”

A depleted Quins no match for Milford:

The result itself was never in doubt from the moment a depleted Quins team kicked things off with just 14 players, soon reduced to 13 when hooker James Balkwill picked up an early head injury.

To the credit of Neil Machin’s team, they still tried to play throughout and did muster a first half try from second row Ben Gibby, and given they had eight players aged 20 or younger there are at least signs of potential if they can get enough numbers to commit for next season.

But it was Milford’s day. Flanker Dolling had his four tries and back row partner Ryan Mansell continued his try streak with three of his own.

Other scores came from No 9 Dan McClelland, winger Craig ‘Yoda’ Thomas, second row David Round, centre Dan Birch and replacement forwards Brandon Cooper and Zac Davies.

Winger James Trueman landed 10 conversions as the home side turned a 42-5 half time lead into an eventual 85-5 win.

Milford show their mettle…..

I suspect the Milford players will forever welcome Laugharne boys into their bar for producing that dramatic win on Wednesday, but they’ve earnt this title themselves.

They’ve been nearly men in recent seasons but this time around their focus seemed hardened, and the desire to win the league was obvious.

There were two defeats in Aberaeron and Llanybydder, the latter    an off colour display that almost cost them dear – but aside from  that they’ve regularly performed under pressure.

Aberaeron home, Laugharne home and away, Neyland away – all tight games where they fronted up and found a way to come through. And their big win at home to the All Blacks represented the most complete display I’ve seen from a Milford side for many a year.

When at full strength they have few weaknesses. No one can argue they aren’t worthy champions.

What’s more, they’ve been tight knit and not shy to celebrate with their team song after games. And there’s nothing wrong with that - rugby careers can be short and at any level, chances to celebrate titles with your mates are rare.

So when such moments do arrive, they should be enjoyed.

But history cannot repeat……

When the euphoria dies down though, must come the realisation that now is when the hard work really starts.

Fishguard and more recently Pembroke have proved you can go up from this league and compete in Division Two, but the dynamic for Milford now changes. Travelling will be more of an issue, the standard and physicality of games will be greater, and there will be no more walk over wins and try gluts.

And a warning to what can happen if players drift lies in the not too distant past.

In 2010/11 a very good Milford team was promoted into what was the old Division Three West, and despite a solid start under then coach Emori Katalau the following season, things promptly fell apart and it took the club took two seasons to recover.

But they have the players and coaching set up in place to perform next season. In Nathan Williams and Steve Martin they have coaches with vast experience of playing higher level rugby, and I can’t see them allowing for a drop in commitment and desire.

Anyway, they can worry about next season in the morning. Tonight they deserve to enjoy themselves.

And ‘Wonners’ deserves to put his feet up.

Milford Haven: Jamie Lewis (capt), Craig Thomas, Dan Jenkins, Dan Birch, James Trueman, Efan Morgan, Dan McClelland, Mike Cockburn, Luke Ryan, Adam Rees, David Round, Chris Hall, Sam Dolling, Ryan Mansell, Mark Wonnacott. Replacements: Ben Jenkins, Brandon Cooper, Zac Davies, Lee Riley, Dean McSparron.

Pembroke Dock Harlequins: Sam James, Josh Brown, Rhys Bradney, Steffan Sheehan, Kieran Machin, Gethin Bradney, Joe Gray, Nick Drewett, James Balkwill, Ben Gibby, Mike Culley, Will Nicot, Jordan Palmer, Hywel Baker.