On a grey, overcast and windy day near Llanelli, Aberystwyth RFC fought out a well contested match at Admiral Division 1 West rivals Felinfoel for a narrow victory by one point. Thankfully the driving rain of earlier in the day had abated and the pitch, though heavy, played well. The gusting wind blowing directly down the pitch played a key role in the game, making kicking out of hand and lineout throws difficult.

Felinfoel 15 Aberystwyth 16, Admiral National League 1 West

Aberystwyth received the kick off playing with the wind in the first half. Early scrums showed that the Aber eight were continuing their solid performance of previous weeks. The visitors pressed quickly, kicking penalties into the hosts’ 22 metres but failed to capitalise on their lineouts.

Kicking out of hand was difficult with the wind and play was brought back due to Aber kicks going dead beyond the hosts in-goal area. Penalties were traded in mid-field, but well contested rucking work from lineouts by both teams held play around the halfway line. Aber continued to work well in the loose and eventually a cross field kick to corner exerted lineout and ruck pressure on Felinfoel’s try line. The ball was held up over the line and from the resulting five metre scrum Carwyn Evans crashed over from short distance to score a try converted by Dylan Benjamin.

The windy conditions caused the restart by Felinfoel to be blown back nearly into their half. Aber’s scrum was starting to control play and good ball retention in rucks yielded a penalty in front of Felinfoel’s posts 22 metres out, duly converted by Aber’s number 10. The hosts responded and kicked penalties deep into Aber’s 22 metres. A Felinfoel lineout 10 metres out from the try line, and resulting rolling maul, allowed the hosts’ Rhys Lewis to cross over for an unconverted try. Felinfoel.

Back on the offensive, Aber were quickly awarded a penalty 35 metres out in front of the posts which was converted into points. A period of closely contested lineouts and rucks in Aber’s half was relieved by an excellent clearing kick by Benjamin for a 50:22 lineout to Aber, but the lineout was thwarted and cleared to Felinfoel’s 10 metre line. A penalty infringement by the hosts near halfway allowed a long distance goal attempt for points by Aber, with a gusting wind, converted with an excellent kick by Benjamin.

Half time: Felinfoel 5 Aberystwyth 16

Had Aber accrued enough points in the first half with the wind to secure the win? The second half followed a similar pattern to the first but with the host’s now exerting pressure with the wind at their backs. Aber managed to clear early efforts by Felinfoel with relieving kicks to touch and well contested rucking. The visitors backs, Ben Jones and Kanjama Fassuluku, cleared danger by keeping the ball in hand and returning play into Felinfoel’s half with excellent line breaks and straight, swerving running. Aber captain Charles Thomas was also always on the front foot with good line breaks and quick ball from the base of rucks.

Felinfoel continued to clear with long kicks down field and started to gain a foothold in Aber’s half. Untidy play in the loose with Aber knock ons meant that the hosts’ kept up the pressure. An attempted clearing kick from an Aber scrum near halfway was charged down, and Felinfoel’s Dale Watts scored under the post for a converted try with eight minutes to go. Felinfoel now had wind in their sails and after several rucks quickly gained a penalty on Aber’s 22metre line which they decided to convert into points instead of kicking for the corner for an attempt at the try line. Felinfoel 15 Aberystwyth 16. The restart would be essential to win and Aber obliged, and a lineout to Aber on halfway was won by the visitors who then controlled half a dozen rucks to see time out.

A spirited, hard fought match with the whole Aber squad showing great resilience, grit and determination to grind out another well deserved win on the road.