Aberystwyth RFC won an exciting close encounter at home against Felinfoel RFC. The visitors were seeking revenge after losing at home to Aber in November by one point, but the home side won another evenly contested game that could have gone either way, writes GRAHAM HARRIS.

Aberystwyth 20 Felinfoel 15, Admiral National League 1 West

On an overcast but dry early Spring day at Cae Plascrug, conditions were good for running rugby with a heavy pitch and only a slight breeze.

Felinfoel started the stronger after Aber cleared straight into touch from the visitors’ kick off. A Felinfoel lineout won 25 metres out from Aber’s try line was spread wide and allowed the visitors’ fly half Aled Roberts to cross for a try that he also converted.

Aber pressed straight back on the restart and were showing slight dominance in the scrums, but Aber mistakes in the loose were cleared down field by Felinfoel, who were soon back on the attack securing good lineout ball and bringing their backs into play.

Penalties conceded by Aber were kicked to the corner, and a lineout and rolling maul saw Felinfoel’s number eight Curtis Morris score an unconverted try. Aber were soon winning possession in the loose, rucking the ball into the visitors’ 22 metres. An Aber penalty kicked to the corner, a lineout won five metres out, a rolling maul, and Owain Bonsall scored an unconverted try for the home side.

Both sides were now trying to open up the game but the defences held firm. Felinfoel failed to convert a penalty into points, and from the 22 metre drop-out Aber pushed play up the field with Osian James breaking the visitors’ defensive line, and quick ruck ball allowed Carwyn Evans to burst through and score a try from 20 metres out converted by Dylan Benjamin. The scores were level at 12 points apiece.

The game was now very evenly contested in rucks, scrums and lineouts. The visitors eventually pressed close to Aber’s try line with penalties kicked to touch and lineout mauls, but Aber’s defence held firm. Stalemate at half time.

The second half started with more attacking play from the visitors, but Aber thwarted any three-quarter moves. The home side cleared out of defence well with strong carries by Carwyn Evans up to the visitors’ 22 metres, but Aber mistakes allowed Felinfoel to clear their lines. The visitors kept up the pressure on the home side, keeping play deep within Aber’s 22 metres, but again stalwart Aber defence resulted in just an attempted drop goal by Felinfoel.

From the 22 metre drop out Aber pressed play deep into the visitors’ half, Aber’s Iestyn Thomas and Steffan Rattray with several line breaks each. Penalties against Aber though allowed Felinfoel to clear the ball. A penalty conceded by Felinfoel 30 metres from their try line was well converted into points by Aber’s fly half Benjamin and Aber were back in front.

Felinfoel now pressed hard, and poor defensive decisions by Aber kept play in their half. A Felinfoel penalty in front of the posts 35 metres out was converted into points to level the scores again. On the restart it was Aber’s turn to miss the chance of three points and gain the upper hand from a penalty. Aber kept on the front-foot, pressing from the drop-out, and a penalty to the home side was kicked to the corner and the lineout maul, pushed play close to the visitor’s try line. A further penalty to Aber was tapped and Iestyn Thomas scored an unconverted try in the last minute.

An exciting and closely fought game, during which a youthful Aber side stuck to their task despite mistakes along the way. Very good performances all round, with Steffan Rattray, Osian James and Iestyn Thomas notable throughout the game.