On a cold, damp night with a strong and difficult blustery wind, Aberystwyth RFC beat a strengthened Whitland RFC side with a very good all round team performance scoring three tries with scrum and lineout functioning well, writes Graham Harris.
Whitland 8 Aberystwyth 17, Admiral National League One West
Aber’s young side controlled large parts of the game but could not score more points from their dominance against a resilient Whitland side.
Straight from the kick off the wind played a part allowing Whitland to clear their lines with a 22 metre drop out, and the hosts were soon pushing play back up the field with penalty kicks pinning the visitors back into their 22 metres.
Aber’s defence held firm, thwarting several rolling mauls close to their try line. Both sides were trying to use the unpredictable wind and gain territory from box kicks and rucks, and play stalled in midfield. A penalty to Whitland was kicked to touch and the lineout five metres out resulted in Whitland’s No.8, Zac France-Miller, scoring an unconverted try.
Aber’s scrum was dominant, winning their own put in and disrupting the host’s scrums too. Whitland were trying to use their backs whenever possible, but most moves were stopped by solid Aber defence. Aber were now exerting pressure in the loose, winning rucks and playing deep in the hosts 22 metres. Scrum dominance by the visitors five metres out resulted in the awarding of a penalty try to Aberystwyth.
Whitland restarted and were quickly trying to run the ball along the backs, but good Aber rucking resulted in penalties to the visitors, and good lineout ball and play close to the hosts’ try line saw Aber’s Iestyn Thomas score an unconverted try. An entertaining first half in difficult conditions.
The wind seemed to pick up in the second half and was even more unpredictable in speed and direction. Despite winning good possession, Aber could not gain significant territorial advantage and were pinned back by conceding penalties. Whitland finally decided to convert one of these penalties in front of the posts into points.
The next score was going to be pivotal in the match, and both sides seemed to sense this, with very closely contested play in the loose in midfield. Aber had more possession but were letting the game slip away with chances for line breaks missed. Whitland also attempted to move the ball wide but without effect.
Aber’s scrum dominance finally proved decisive and scrum penalties pushed play deep into the host’s territory. A lineout five metres out was well won by Aber and the rolling maul allowed Sion Evans to score an unconverted try.
Injuries now took their toll on the scrums which were uncontested. Aber were still dominant in the rucks, disrupting the hosts attempts to move the ball. Play was closely contested, but remained around the halfway line until the final whistle.
A deserved win on the road with a very good all-round team performance. Notable contributions especially from the back row of Steffan Rattray, Sion Evans and Iestyn Thomas, but every member of the young squad contributed to a convincing win. Aber’s confidence is building.