NARBERTH were left frustrated despite a second half comeback in the much-anticipated Championship Cup semi-final against Ystrad Rhondda, one of the top teams in the Championship East Division.

In the first half the Otters played against a very strong wind and did not adapt to the conditions in the early part of the game.

Within the first quarter of an hour Ystrad had gained a significant lead. Firstly, uncharacteristic loose tackling in midfield saw the Ystrad centre slice through a gap and score close to the posts for their first try, which they converted.

Within minutes Ystrad had scored again to stretch their lead to 14-0 when from loose play their backs spread the ball wide for their wing to cross the try line close to the corner flag.

With the wind against them, the Otters were finding it difficult to get out of their 22 metre line and visits into their opponents’ half were few and far between.

When Narberth did manage to put some phases of play together, they looked dangerous through strong runs downfield by centres Ilan Phillips and Aled Rees and second row Will Blackburn.

Western Telegraph: Narberth's Lewys Gibby and Tom Powell put the pressure on.Narberth's Lewys Gibby and Tom Powell put the pressure on. (Image: Robert Lewis)

However, half an hour in Ystrad increased their lead further when the ball spilled out of a ruck close to the Narberth try line and Ystrad were first to get to the ball and drive over for their third converted try.

Things were now looking desperate for the Otters and the large crowd of their supporters who had travelled to the match were fearing the worst.

Just before the interval, Narberth did start to pressurise Ystrad and after some good handling, full back Ashley Sutton made a half break and put centre Ilan Phillips into space and he managed to run in close to the posts for an excellent try converted by fly half Jonathan Rogers, meaning the Otters trailed 21-7 at the break.

Within five minutes of the second half, a powerful run by prop Bradley Davies saw him get the ball away in the tackle to supporting flanker Tom Powell who ran in under the posts for a second try, again converted by Rogers.

Western Telegraph: Narberth captain Tom Powell scored to put the game within reach.Narberth captain Tom Powell scored to put the game within reach. (Image: Robert Lewis)

Narberth now had their tails up and were playing with added confidence. The Otters were getting into some good attacking positions on the field but the final pass was just going astray.

Then, with little space to work in, wing Dean James made a thundering run down the touchline and when he was eventually stopped, supporting scrum half Lewys Gibby was on hand to take the inside pass and crash over in the corner for another try converted by Rogers which levelled the score at 21-21.

Western Telegraph: Lewys Gibby goes over to level the scores.Lewys Gibby goes over to level the scores. (Image: Robert Lewis)

But from a rare incursion into the Narberth half, Ystrad capitalised on a Narberth handling error and from the resulting scrum their back line conjured up another try when their wing scored wide out for an unconverted try to get them back in the lead 26-21.

For the remainder of the game Narberth kept the opposition under constant pressure within their 22 metre line.

The Otters had a series of scrums five metres from the Ystrad try line, but were unable to make any progress, and despite infringements from Ystrad, were not awarded a penalty try.

Western Telegraph: Jonathan Rogers converted all three of the Otters' tries.Jonathan Rogers converted all three of the Otters' tries. (Image: Robert Lewis)

They were again denied as Narberth moved the ball wide and what looked like a certain try was deliberately knocked forward by the Ystrad hooker - who received a yellow card, but once again Narberth were not awarded a penalty try.

When Narberth called for a scrum to once again look for a pushover try, Ystrad informed the referee they had no front row player available to replace their hooker, and there was no alternative but to move to uncontested scrums.

Despite all the pressure, Narberth were unable to score again.

Man of the match was awarded to wing Dean James. Next week the Otters travel to second placed Brecon in what could be the Championship title decider.