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Ystrad give Jones perfect send-off with cup final triumph

Ystrad give Jones perfect send-off with cup final triumph

Ystrad Rhondda celebrate their first Mid District Cup final win since 2001 (Replay Images - Mike Jones)

Ystrad Rhondda gave their outgoing head coach Dylan Jones the perfect send off by lifting the Worthington’s Mid District Cup in his final game in charge. 

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Tries in each half in a man of the match display from former Pontypridd wing Alex Webber on his return to Sardis Road earned the Admiral Championship side a 30-13 win.

Player-coach Webber’s double act bookended a first half effort from blindside flanker Rhys Dauncey and one after the break from openside Jarrad Llewellyn, as they beat Brecon in the district showpiece to make up for the disappointment of losing to Pontypool at Principality Stadium in the WRU Championship Cup final.

Alex Webber

Two try Alex Webber was man of the match (Pic: Replay Images / Mike Jones)

It was a fitting finale for former fly-half Jones, as he brought down the curtain on 21 years at Ystrad Rhondda, the past 13 as a coach at the Gelligaled Park club.

During that time he has overseen two successful title winning campaigns, culminating in promotion to the Championship in 2018. Now firmly established at that level, they finished fourth behind Pontypool, Neath and Bargoed last season.

Jones also helped lead Ystrad to WRU National Plate glory in 2015. It was also fitting that his final chapter would end at Sardis Road, where his earliest sporting memories revolved around watching his father Chris and uncle Clive coaching Ponty in the late 1980s.

He would also go on to enjoy a couple of seasons as a player at Pontypridd under the coaching of Dale McIntosh – now in charge at Brecon – and who Jones says influenced his own ideas on culture when he returned to Ystrad.  

Meanwhile, this was the third time Ystrad Rhondda have won the Mid District Cup and the first time since 2001. Since then they have been runners-up on four separate occasions, including against Bargoed last season.

They avenged that loss back on 6 May in what was a league and cup semi-final double header between the sides at Gelligaled Park, which Ystrad edged 21-17.

It set up a final showdown with Brecon, who themselves have had a season to remember, finishing as runners-up in Division 1 East to win promotion. They will play in the new Championship West division next season.

The district clash against higher division opponents proved to be a bridge too far on this occasion, but that won’t detract from what has been a brilliant first season at the helm for McIntosh, along with two other former Pontypridd men in Gavin Dacey and Owen Sheppeard.

Brecon were first on the scoreboard through full-back and skipper Jake Crockett’s penalty but Ystrad went straight up the other end with Webber diving over unconverted.

Ystrad No.10 Rhys Truelove though did add the extras to Dauncey’s try which came inside the 15-minute mark and also sent over a penalty, before wing Ben Griffin pulled a score back for Brecon which went unconverted as Ystrad led 15-8 as the sides changed ends.

Alex Webber scores for Ystrad (pic: Replay Images / Mike Jones)

Two more tries before the hour mark had been struck all but took the game away from Brecon with first Llewellyn going over and then Webber adding his second.

Truelove converted the latter and added his second penalty before flanker Ioan Edwards grabbed a second unconverted try for Brecon late on.

“I couldn’t have asked for more on the back of the season we’ve had. I just asked for one more big effort and, in fairness, they took their chances, took their opportunities and have done the job,” said a delighted Jones.

“We scored at key times. The two tries at the start showed what we can do when we’ve got the ball in our hands and then the try just after half time really put us in the ascendancy.

“This has capped off a great season for us. We’ve came close against Pontypool in that Championship Cup final and achieved our objective of fourth in the league.

“Also, for some of us, we’ve been in this Mid District competition now for a number of years and have been the bridesmaids a few times. We’ve been four times runners-up in the time that I’ve been here for the last 21 years and finally capped it off with a win, so I’m chuffed!”

Scorers: Brecon: Tries: Ben Griffin, Ioan Edwards; Pen: Jake Crockett. Ystrad Rhondda: Alex Webber (2), Rhys Dauncey, Jarrad Llewellyn; Cons: Rhys Truelove (2); Pens: Rhys Truelove (2).

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