On a still, cold, crisp, overcast afternoon in Ceredigion, Aberystwyth RFC gained another nailbiting win against WRU Admiral National League Division 1 West Yr Hendy RFC, writes Graham Harris.

Aberystwyth RFC 21 Yr Hendy RFC 19, Admiral National League 1 West

The ground conditions were soft underfoot and a fast flowing exciting match concluded with Aberystwyth winning a closely contested match. Hendy had the better of the scrummaging but Aberystwyth proved more dangerous in open play.

Aber kicked off and both sides tested each other in the early phases of play with kicks fielded and attempts to bring their respective backs into action from rucks. Due to the still conditions both number 10s were trying to gain as much distance from penalty kicks as possible but failing to make touch, resulting in an fast-flowing open and exciting period of play.

Good rucking allowed Aber to gain a foothold in the visitor’s 22 and a break in the loose by Llewellyn Evans and good clearouts by Paul Stubbs, both stalwart Aber veterans, enabled Wil Caron Lewis to score a try under the posts converted by Dylan Benjamin. Aber 7 Hendy 0.

On the restart Hendy were awarded a penalty on Aber’s 10 metre line which they attempted to convert into points but the kick fell short. Play from the dropout was pinned back into the host’s 22 due to scrum penalties against Aber being kicked to the corners. Solid Aber defence kept the visitors out with ball stolen from rucks being run out of defence well by Aber’s Haydn Beal and Austin Ellis-Jones.

Another scrum penalty to Hendy near half way saw an attempt at goal missed by the visitors. Play was being closely contested by both teams in the loose, but Hendy had the upper hand in the scrums pushing the home side further back and Hendy’s Liam Evans broke the defensive line to score a try converted by Tyler Payne. Aber 7 Hendy 7.

Aber then tried to open play up more in midfield, but unfortunately a long pass along the backs was missed and Hendy’s Aaron Evans pounced on the loose ball to grubber kick to the line and score a converted try.

The hosts felt aggrieved at this break against the run of play and quickly asserted dominance with line breaks and rucks carrying the game into the visitor’s 22. An Aber lineout 10 metres out and rucks on the try line saw Caron Lewis crashing over for his second try converted by Benjamin. Aber 14 Hendy 14. A close game with this being the half time score.

The second half resumed in a similar vein, Hendy showing scrum dominance but Aber clearing any danger with sound defence and trying at every opportunity to get their flowing backs into the game.

An Aber lineout on Hendy’s 22 metres line was rucked to within 10 metres of the visitor’s try line and Aber’s Tom Slinger broke the defensive line to score a try converted by Benjamin.

The visitors kicked every penalty advantage given for territory and, despite untidy play by both teams, Aber kept them out. The game was getting tense and Hendy tapped penalties to keep Aber on the back foot. Stout defence by the Aber pack in rucks held play within the visitor’s half, slowly pressing play nearer Hendy’s try line.

Penalties to Hendy relieved the mounting pressure but play was held for sometime deep in Hendy’s half with Aber not managing to break through. A yellow card against Aber meant playing the final minutes a player down. The visitors slowly asserted territorial advantage with penalty kicks. Nerves were gaining hold now and a scrappy lineout knocked on by Aber, and the resulting scrum and rucks close to their try line allowed Hendy’s Gareth Thomas to score in the corner.

Time was up and now the conversion out wide would result in as draw. The conversion attempt fell short and so another spirited and battling performance resulted in a deserved Aber win – doubling their recent winning margins to two points.

An excellent game of rugby with both sides contributing to a thrilling and absorbing match. Come down to Plascrug for your live sport and watch a dedicated and committed group of young (and a few slightly older) players build on a winning run of games.