Aber win District H battle
Fishguard 7pts Aberystwyth 19
Rugby matches were few and far between in West Wales on Saturday but the Goodwick Moor ground was just playable and managed to host this Division 2 fixture between its two District H Clubs. The Ceredigion side had won their first encounter at Plascrug but the home side have had several impressive scorelines in this their first season at this League level. The ground was wet and heavy from recent rain and it remained dry during the game, but it was clear from before the start that the gusty wind would feature significantly.
With the wind behind them in the first half Aber were intent on building up an advantage and the opening quarter was spent predominantly inside the Fishguard 22. They crossed the Fishguard line twice in the opening ten minutes but failed to impress Llandysul referee Jason Ludgate who controversially concluded first that the pack had not grounded the ball after pushing over and then that wing Carwyn Evans had slithered over the dead ball line despite a seemingly neck high tackle to bring him down. Their momentum was so great that they twice declined attempts at goal from the shadow of the posts; but Fishguard put in desperate defensive efforts, conceding penalties that inevitable got them a yellow card in just the 12th minute. From that penalty however Aber swung the ball right and then back left before lock Lee Evans crossed for the opening try near the posts which fly half Jason Rees converted for a seven point lead after sixteen minutes of play.
Pressure from Aber continued but the home side gradually got into the game and around the half hour mark moved play nearer the centre of the field. Aber were penalised near half way and home fly half James Griffiths guided the ball to the corner, against the wind. Aber’s defence was sound but they had difficulty in clearing the ball back downfield. They had to repeat their heroic efforts more than once more but they did protect their slender lead until the half time whistle blew. It was not at all clear whether this would be enough to defend when they turned round.
But Aberystwyth started strongly after the interval and play moved into the home 22 once more. The second score was a bizarre affair. With the wind precluding high kicks several kicks along the ground ensued and Rees managed to guide one through a mire of players, centre Myles Hamilton winning the chase to touch down in the right corner. The conversion attempt blew back over the touchline but the visitors had a 12 point lead after 46 minutes. The wind also took control of a penalty attempt by Griffiths five minutes later. Aber once again attacked the Fishguard line but after another questionably high tackle Fishguard made good use of the wind to take play to the opposite end of the field; to add salt to Aber wounds their defensive efforts earned them a yellow card. With 14 men they did remarkably well to stop ensuing attacks, pushing the home pack back a full ten metres but failing to relieve them of possession. When Fishguard swung the ball out however their numerical advantage opened a gap that hooker Gavin Walsh broke through to score a try in the left corner. A majestic touchline conversion from Griffiths cut the lead to five points, and with 15 minutes remaining the outcome started to become unclear.
But, as they have done so often this season, Aberystwyth dug deep and kept possession as they strove for territorial advantage again. A break from his own half by Gruff Jones saw the scrum half felled after he had kicked ahead and at last a penalty for the late tackle took Aberystwyth within 15 metres of the Fishguard line. An excellent and controlled scrum pushed the home pack back a full twelve metres and with several of their backs adding their weight it was almost inevitable that the touch down was claimed by the young-
The remaining minutes saw both sides counter each other’s efforts but Aberystwyth could travel back home with the satisfaction of a good job done. This was undoubtedly a potential banana skin for the Ceredigion side and they now remain in the chase for the League title as they take another break for the Six Nations championship next weekend. Then on the first Saturday in March they welcome Llanybydder to Plascrug, very keen to avenge one of only two defeats they have suffered this season.
Plascrug Ave, Aberystwyth, Dyfed SY23 1HL