11 September 2018 / Club News

And so it begins!

And so it begins!

The first league game of the season was finally here, with a positive preseason and a near full strength squad to pick from Aber were going into this game with a lot of confidence. Last season’s meetings with New Tredegar finished 1-1 with both teams winning their home ties.

The conditions were perfect for rugby, the early morning rain left the ball slightly greasy but you couldn’t ask for better conditions for the opening game.

The polite way to say a game wasn’t the most entertaining to watch amongst the rugby fraternity is “it was one for the purists” – well this game was certainly for the purists. Both sides finding it incredibly difficult to string any phases of play together and there were lots of unforced errors. What had been a real positive for Aber in their preseason games was the strength of their scrum, however the smaller New Tredegar pack got the shove on Aber more often than not. Scrum half Aaron Matthews was under all sorts of pressure at set piece and breakdown and was unable to get any clean ball away to their backline.

New Tredegar had the upper hand for most parts of the first half, they were awarded a few kickable penalties however they decided to go for the corner each time in the hope to capitalise on their dominance. Their gambles didn’t pay off as the Aber defence remained resilient. Despite having very little ball, Aber were themselves rewarded with 2 kickable penalties which full back Chris Jenkins slotted over – and against all odds went in at half time 6-0 up.

Aber started the 2nd half strongly and were immediately awarded another kickable penalty – Chris Jenkins again on target with the boot and took Aber into a 9-0 lead.

The next 10 minutes were all New Tredegar as they really piled the pressure on deep into Aber’s 22 – the Aber defence was wearing thin as New Tredegar recycled the ball quickly. As the ball came away from the ruck a clever short pass from their 10 puts his supporting player clean through the gap and over the line – the try was quickly converted and the score line was now 9-7 to Aber.

Aber made a number of changes in the pack which seemed to steady the scrum up, but they were still under huge pressure in open play. Aber were then dealt a killer blow when 2nd row Huw Meyrick received a yellow card for an accumulation of penalties. Newtra had their tails up and smelt blood as they now had the extra man advantage for the remainder of the game.

As the pressure was building Aber begun giving penalties away deep in their own territory, fortunately for Aber their kicker was having an off day as he missed 2 relatively easy penalties to give New Tredegar the lead. Each drop out 22 invited New Tredegar to run back at the now tired Aber defence. It seemed inevitable that New Tredegar would get the final score but credit to the Aber defence they were standing tall. A late hit by Aber’s replacement hooker Sponge sparked a mini brawl where both teams were throwing punches – however the ref only managed to spot one punch which resulted in a red card for Sponge. A New Tredegar player also received a yellow card in the incident but were awarded the penalty 15 in from touch on the 22. Another opportunity for the away side to take the lead in the dying moments of the game but again was unsuccessful.

New Tredegar had one last chance to test the Aber defence and were building pressure just 5 meters from the line. Aber got off the line quickly and managed to get man and ball, with no support Aber won a fantastic turnover and got the ball off the park to secure a 9-7 win.

Despite having the lion share of territory and possession, New Tredegar will no doubt be kicking themselves. Unfortunately for them the only stat that matters is the score line. Quite simply put, Aber took their very few chances and were clinical with their opportunities. New Tredegar were not.

It’s a great start to the league campaign for Aber, winning when you’re not playing well is a true sign of character amongst the squad. Another tough weeks training ahead for yet another local derby, this time in the cup competition as we travel the short distance up the valley to Abertysswg. Aber know they need to up their game for what will be a very stern test, but we are looking forward to the challenge.

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