ABERYSTWYTH entertained an ambitious Gowerton team on Saturday. The visitors were in 4th place in Division 1 West with 15 wins from 18 games. They had already beaten two of the teams placed above them and had games in hand; so a move up to a better position and even promotion from Division 1 was a very real possibility by the close of the season. First, they would have to dispose of a confident Aber team playing with home advantage.

Gowerton kicked off and Aber dropped the high ball. That put the visitors in a strong situation positionally and tactically. After a few phases moving the ball back and fore across the field in Aber’s 22m area, a missed tackle in midfield allowed Gowerton to score their opening try. The conversion put them 0-7 ahead after as many minutes.

A collapsed scrum gave the visitors the chance to go further ahead with an easy penalty taking them to 0-10. Continuous pressure forced Aber to give ground and from a scrum deep in the hosts’ 22m Gowerton’s left wing looped round in a rehearsed move to take an inside pass for an easily converted try. Aber eventually got on the scoresheet when Steffan Jac Jones kicked a penalty after his side had made a rare foray into the opposition’s 22m to close the gap to 3-17.

A dropped ball by Aber allowed the visitors to break away to the left where they won a lineout. The ball was moved across field for their inside centre to penetrate the home defence and score. After a simple conversion their lead was extended to 3 -24 at half-time.

Gowerton’s dominance continued into the second half and after winning a lineout in Aber’s 22m a catch-and-drive took them over the line for their fourth and bonus point try which, with the conversion took their lead to 3 - 31.

At this point both sides started to bring on their benches and it was Aber who seemed to gain most from the changes as they upped their game and gained more possession and territory.

This pressure paid off when Ben Jones at centre pierced the Gowerton cover to score a very well worked try. Jones added the conversion and Aber were up to double figures At 10-31.

The hosts continued to attack and a relieving clearance kick from near their line by the visitors was fielded near the half-way line by Aber winger, Kanjama Fasuluku on the right hand touchline. In a beautiful arcing run he took on the Gowerton defence and scored an excellent individual try under the posts. Jones again converted to close the scoring at 17-31.

Gowerton were clinical and methodical, showing a level of teamwork and understanding that their opponents were unable to match for most of the game.

The visitors won the ball without much difficulty and protected it very well.

They comprehensively out-scrummaged the home eight pushing them back and winning the ball, and penalties in the process. In the lineouts they competed aggressively winning all their own ball and either stealing or disrupting Aber’s lineout possession. In the loose too they made sure that they kept the ball in every phase.

Their defence strategy was based on pressure, giving the Aber carriers no time to think and very little room to move. As a result the home team was stifled and gave away too many penalties to create a cohesive attacking platform. As a consequence Aber were unable to compete on equal terms.

With a new half-back pairing of Charles Thomas and Steffan Jac Jones and a new centre pairing of Carwyn Evans and Ben Jones, the home supporters looked forward to some excitement behind the scrum; but with only the scrappiest of possession there was little they could do until the final quarter of the game.

Like Aber, Gowerton too fielded a young squad, but they showed themselves to be a well drilled side, familiar with each other and supportive of the ball carrier so that they were able to keep the ball alive and their opponents on the back foot for most of the game.

To their credit, Aber’s young side stuck to their task to the very end, but there was little they could do when they were starved of good, clean possession and pressurised relentlessly whenever they won the ball.

After many retirements in Aber’s ranks in the past two seasons, many current first teamers have been thrown in at the deep end. That these individuals have survived and developed into very promising players bodes well for the club’s future in Division 1.

Gowerton’s victory all but secures promotion for them as they should win two of their remaining three fixtures. As for Aber, they will now have to beat Waunarlwydd and gain maximum points next Saturday and then see their close rivals, Yr Hendy, lose to Gorseinon, to move the Plascrug club up to seventh place in the National League 1 West.