Saturday’s visitors to Plascrug, Burry Port RFC, had a dream start to their inaugural season in Division 1 West winning all of their opening five games, writes Brian Morgan.
Aberystwyth RFC 23 Burry Port RFC 29, Admiral National League One West
For their sixth match they entertained an Aber side that had experienced a difficult start to the season.
As it turned out, Aber won by a single point, a win that gave them a boost to climb to their current eighth place in the league.
Burry Port in the meantime have done well enough to retain third place with 50 points from 14 games .
Aber’s young side have had to rely on fitness and enthusiasm in place of experience and bulk so far this season, but the whole squad, with the help of the coaches, have harnessed these qualities and shown consistent improvement.
So there was pride as well as points to play for in this return match on Saturday and in a very entertaining encounter the visitors came out on top due to their superior teamwork.
With dry ground conditions and no wind it was clear from the start that the visitors wanted to play running, attacking rugby and they secured plenty of possession and territory to put their plans into action.
Although Aber tackled and covered well their defence was eventually penetrated by Burry Port’s open side flanker who provided his supporting prop with a scoring pass for a try under the posts.
An easy conversion put them 7-0 ahead after 15 minutes play.
Following a poor restart the visitors were awarded a scrum on the 50m mark.
They moved the ball to the right and broke through some poor tackling to add an unconverted try to their tally at 0-12.
Aber gained some momentum from their kick off and were awarded a penalty which Benjamin converted to open their scoring at 3-12.
They closed the gap even further when Benjamin put in a diagonal kick to the corner.
This was caught by fullback Beal who managed to slip a scoring pass to Fasuluku who crossed in the corner to bring the score to 8-12.
A yellow card for either side followed by the loss of Aber’s skipper Charles Thomas, disrupted the flow of the game for a while until play settled down after 10 minutes or so.
The two sides employed different tactics in attack. Whereas the visitors spread the ball wide along their backs, Aber kept the ball close to the source to rely on forward drives which were comfortably dealt with by the opposition’s back row.
Burry Port showed the effectiveness of their strategy again when their outside centre broke through to score a converted try to increase his side’s lead to 8-19 at the interval.
The visitors were first to score in the second half with a converted try to extend their lead to 8-26.
After pressing on the Burry Port line for a long period Aber closed the gap when outside half Benjamin threw a long overhead pass for Hemmings to score in the corner.
The conversion failed but Aber moved up to 13-26
More pressure from the hosts saw Fasuluku score his second try in the corner.
Again this try went unconverted but Aber were now within striking distance at 18-26.
The hosts’ tails were up and another try in the corner this time from Aled Llyr Hywel, took the score to 23-26.
Burry Port responded with energy and determination and were camped in Aber’s 22m zone for a long period. The hosts’ defence held out until a high tackle presented the visitors with an easy penalty to close the scoring at 23-29.
Both sides contributed to an entertaining game with Aber coming close to snatching a win towards the end of the match. Burry Port had a significant advantage in the lineouts and won most of them.
Aber did better in the scrums and pushed beyond their weight. In the backs, Burry Port looked dangerous with ball in hand and did most of the damage in this area.
For some reason Aber seemed reluctant to use their biggest assets in attack – their centre pairing of Carwyn Evans and Matthew Jacobs – preferring forward drives instead.
Both teams gained four-try bonus points and their league positions remained unchanged after this game. The hosts also gained a losing bonus point.
For their squad this will have been a valuable lesson in playing to their strengths; their hard work deserved a better outcome.
Aber’s next match will be away against Whitland RFC on Friday, 2 February, kicking off at 7.30.