Aberystwyth 29 Bonymaen 22
WRU Plate Competition
Aber battled their way into the quarter finals of the WRU Plate in a hard-fought encounter against a highly regarded Bonymaen side on Saturday.
That they achieved this win without skipper Arwel Lloyd and vice-captain Matthew Hughes and preserved their two-year unbeaten home record, made it all the more creditable.
In perfect weather and ground conditions kick-off had to be delayed by three hours as the appointed referee failed to turn up and until a suitably qualified replacement was found.
Aber’s start was not very promising as they failed to field Bonymaen’s kick-off.
They were penalised, marched back 10 metres for silly backchat, and were 0-3 down in as many minutes.
Another penalty and the loss of 10 metres for more backchat soon followed and enabled the visitors’ full-back, Jordan Smith to extend their lead to 0-6.
The home team was slow to settle down and their lineouts creaked due to poor coordination between thrower and jumpers.
Early on they were outfought in the loose as Bonymaen jackalled fiercely for possession.
That the visitors were unable to profit from this was due entirely to the tenacity and determination with which Aber defended.
But poor discipline was proving to be costly as Smith edged the visitors further ahead to 0-9 with his third penalty.
However, Aber’s ever reliable kicker, Steffan Rees brought the scores level at 9-9 with three penalties for the hosts, the last of which was from over 40 metres out.
Twenty five minutes had passed before the first scrum of the game took place and Bonymaen were able to show how tight and well-drilled they were as a scrummaging unit.
They were solid on their own put-in and pushed Aber’s eight off their own ball on three occasions during the game.
Their driving from lineouts too was a constant threat as they showed their superiority in that department.
Aber took the lead after an excellent kick by Steffan Rees found touch near the opposition’s try line.
Bonymaen infringed at a scrum that followed and centre Carwyn Evans fought his way over for a try near the posts from a quickly taken free-kick.
Rees converted and the hosts had gone ahead by 16-9 at the interval.
The visitors started the second half with urgency and determination.
They forced play to within yards of the Aber line and scored their first try of the game by No 8 Brooks with a straightforward pushover from a five metre scrum.
The conversion failed but the gap had been closed to 16-14.
They soon added to this when they launched a driving maul for a full 20 metres from a lineout to within striking distance of Aber’s line.
When they were stopped they moved the ball left and a long pass to winger Sam Jones was enough to restore their lead to 16-19 as he scored an unconverted try in the corner.
The home side drew level with another penalty from Rees.
He then took them back into the lead at 22-19 with his fifth penalty of the afternoon.
Aber again misfielded a Bonymaen restart kick and Smith brought his team level again to 22-22 with another penalty.
The confidence of the hosts’ backs had been growing as the game progressed and when they won a ruck 35 metres out they moved the ball out for Rees to put up a perfectly weighted kick to the right corner where Ben Jones collected and scored a try that Rees converted to edge the hosts ahead and close the scoring at 29-22.
Up front, despite losing the scrummaging battle and making life difficult for themselves in the lineouts, this was a polished performance from Aber, although they did miss the strength and bulk of their captain.
Their tackling has never been better and a lot of credit must go to the back row of Steffan Rattray, Iestyn Thomas and Lee Truck for their tireless work in attack and defence.
Aber’s young wing forwards are maturing and improving with every game.
The second half pressure and harassment from the whole team created opportunities for Aber as Bonymaen gave away seven penalties to the hosts’ three in the second period.
Thanks to the efforts of the home forwards the victors finished the game much the stronger.
Behind the scrum Llyr Thomas made a difficult job look simple as he often had to clear slow, scrappy possession to launch his backs or put in high, accurate kicks.
At outside half Steffan Rees moved the ball smoothly and kicked superbly from hand and tee.
All the home team’s backs tackled their hearts out This fine win had to be fought for, and Aber showed that they have plenty of skill and spirit to take on any team at this level.
Aber will face Treorchy in the quarter final at Plascrug this Saturday, kick-off at 2.30pm.
If the records are accurate, Treorchy have not played since 29 January.
Home advantage will be crucial as their opponents have played and won all six of their Plate games, earning 29 points.
In Division 1 of the Admiral National League, East Central they are in fourth place and are again unbeaten in five games with 20 points.
Aber are not far behind in the Plate having won five of their six games and are on 24 points.
The squad deserve a good attendance and great vocal support on the day to boost the side’s prospects.
If last Saturday’s performance is any guide, Aber can approach next Saturday’s game with confidence.
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