Rhondda Outlaws claim Welsh title

12th August 2019, 04:38

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Rhondda Outlaws claim Welsh title

Rhondda Outlaws claimed the 17th Welsh Grand Final on their own ground after beating Bridgend Blue Bulls 34-22 in a classic encounter.

Bridgend were aiming for their tenth final victory after winning the first five finals from 2003-07, but for the Outlaws, it was their first final, and indeed victory, after three years of running a senior side.

Richie Lewis slid over to give Outlaws the lead on five minutes. Max Hendy missed the kick.

Corey Harris dived through a cluster of players to level things 11 minutes later and Gareth Howells converted to put them 6-4 up.

They extended their lead on 22 minutes when Stuart Robson slid over in the corner and Howells converted.

Rhondda’s downfall in the early stages was their handling errors. Making seven in the first 25 minutes, they were punished just after that as Dale Wood was sent over in the same corner as the last try, following a good set of passes. Howells’ kick was short on this occasion.

The Outlaws got a try back on 32 minutes. It was a 50-metre run from Tom Hopkins who fought off his challengers, pushing Luke Davies away twice, to score under the posts. Max Hendy converted to bring the score back to 16-10.

Then two minutes before half-time, Rhondda scored their third. Lee Griffiths crossed in the corner with Hendy failing to convert, giving Bridgend a 16-14 lead at the break.

Outlaws regained the lead two minutes into the second half after Tom Hale successfully chased down a kick to dive in the corner and Chris Harris converted.

Bridgend led again on 51 minutes. Luke Davies forced his way over and Howells converted.

But Rhondda scored again with 13 minutes remaining after Jackson Huntley slid over. The conversion was missed giving them a two-point advantage.

That extended to six and the largely home crowd erupted when Max Hendy slipped through the Bridgend defence on 73 minutes. He converted his own try to increase their lead to 30-22.

And the sealed the win three minutes later when Kevin James burst through a tired Blue Bulls backline. Max Hendy missed the conversion meaning Bridgend were just two tries adrift, but time was on the Outlaws’ side.

Bridgend gave it one last go after Rhondda dropped the ball from kick-off, but the Outlaws defence kept them out and the Pontypridd side celebrated victory.