Mariners hold on against Borderers in tense finale

Delighted winners Milford Haven 

2024 KO Cup - Plate Final:


Milford Haven 24 - Whitland 21


Man of the Match - Ollie Rothero (Milford Haven full back)Venue: Heywood Lane, Tenby
Referee: Chris Oliver
Assistants: Richard Thomas & Nigel Gray


Milford Haven were winners of a very exciting KO Cup Plate Final as they fended off a late come-back  by a gritty Whitland side that looked down at out with a quarter of the game left as they trailed 9-24.

Played in front of a large and vociferous crowd at Heywood Lane the Mariners led 10-9 at the interval before two converted tries saw them forge well ahead as their pack played really well.

But The Borderers kept plugging away to score a brace of tries, one converted, to take them to just three points adrift with four minutes left – and full back Geraint Jones hit the post  and The Mariners cleared with some good defence. And Steve Martin’s boys held their nerve until Chris Oliver’s final whistle so that Milford’s young skipper Zac Davies and veteran vice captain Lee Riley were able to raise the Plate trophy for the first time in the club’s history.

James Trueman - had one of his best games for The Mariners with 14 pointsThe Mariners opened the scoring with a penalty from winger James Trueman, which was soon cancelled out for The Borderers by full back Geraint Jones – but then Milford scored the first try as pressure up front by Jimmy Buirds, Luke Ryan and Aaron Mayne saw No 8 Dewi Williams pick up from close range and plough his way over the line for Trueman to convert.

Whitland, however, had their own ball winners like Trystan Bowen, Marc Jones, Lewis Tingay and especially Benji Kirk, playing his final game as club captain before stepping down from the role so that they earned two kickable penalties that allowed No 15 Jones to reduce the interval deficit to a single point.
The second half was equally as competitive but it was The Mariners who took their chances as their big pack earned quality possession that allowed half backs Dan McClelland and Efan Morgan to establish  a solid platform and as a result they scored their second try - and a cracker it was too as quick hands from James Williams and Dan Jenkins gave Trueman just the space he needed to beat his marker, cut inside and outpace the cover defence a quality try which he also converted.
With their tails up The Mariners added a third try when Scott Buirds was brought on to exert an influence and he did just that as he picked up close to the whitewash and crashed over for a try, again converted by Trueman.
Benji Kirk - signed off as Whitland skipper and led by exampleAt this stage it seemed as if Whitland’s hopes were down and out but Milford seemed to run out of steam and with nine minutes left The Borderers showed real grit as they fought back with a try from pacy winger Owyn Griffiths, converted by Geraint Jones – and then classy centre Dom Davies added another three minutes later, this time unconverted, to really set the cat amongst the pigeons.
The Borderers almost levelled but Geraint Jones’ penalty bounced back and was scrambled clear by Milford, and try as they might, Whitland were unable to really gain the necessary foothold for another penalty to tie things up, or a try to win the match, and Milford Haven were winners – and delighted to hear that final blast of the whistle from Mr Oliver
Milford Haven full back Ollie Rothero was given the ‘man of the match’ award for his assured performance in the No 15 shirt, after playing at outside half for much of the season, but must have been pushed all the way by James Trueman for his quality place-kicking and memorable try – but in the final analysis it was the men in cherry and white who were just about good value for victory over the Green Machine – but it was mighty close!
Owyn Griffiths - scored a good try for The BorderersMilford Haven: Ollie Rothero: Robbie Jones; James Williams; Dan Jenkins; Jamie Trueman: Efan Morgan; Dan McClelland: Aaron Mayne; Luke Ryan; Jimmy Buirds: Jay Goodall; Zac Davies (Capt): Ryan Mansell; Ieuan Davies; Dewi Williams. Replacements: Dai. Sweeny; Ben Jenkins; Ben
Groves; Scott Buirds; Ethan Aldred; Lee Riley; Dean McSparron.

Whitland: Geraint Jones: Morgan Lewis, Jamie Goldsworthy; Dom Davies; Owyn Griffiths: Jonathan Thomas; Trystan Rees: Dafydd Walters; Marc Jones; Trystan Bowen: Benjamin Kirk; Dan Bennett: Lewis Tingay; Cian Evans; Zac France-Miller. Replacements: Ceiron Evans; Charlie
Watson; Jack Worthing; Thomas Iraia; Geraint McCoan.

Runners-up Whitland