03 September 2018 / Club News

We have booked a bus!

For the rest of Wales the season had finally started. Unfortunately for us we were the odd team without a fixture for the first week. Our pre season was to go on for one more week and we decided to take full advantage. With an away day trip that had more of an end of season feel about it, we were all set to travel down to Tondu. “We’ve booked a bus”, 4 simple words which to most teams is the norm. Not for Aber - “we’ve booked a bus” means more than just an away game, it’s an occasion. Partners are informed, Mondays are booked off work, fancy dresses were purchased, essential preparation for such a day.


Plans nearly went out the window after Tondu pulled out late on Thursday night - panic set it. I mean, we had booked a bus, we couldn't let a minor detail like not having a game spoil our day. A day out on the lash was on the cards, so the boys made a pact not to inform their partners of the cancelled game “as far as they know we’re playing rugby”. Thankfully it didn't have to come to that thanks to the tireless work that was being done behind the scenes in the next 24 hours. Hats off to Alwyn who managed to secure a new fixture against Dinas Powys 2nd XV. Also thanks to Dinas Powys for accommodating us at such short notice. The show went on.


The day had arrived, and with it came the expected last minute drop outs - various excuses were made, none were believed. Those with partners understood the plight of their fallen brothers, but they had to be left behind.


There was yet another setback as our bus driver was unexpectedly caught out by the Cedar Tree road works that had suddenly popped up…..18 months ago. Two and a half hours later, dazed and dishevelled, we finally arrived. Unfortunately some of the after game supplies had to be drunk for survival on the journey down - there was no other option.


After hitting and navigating every speed bump possible in the last 48 hours, the fact we were here with a game to play felt like a victory in itself. The game was delayed by 30 minutes, but it was time for kick off and job needed to be done. It’s worth pointing out now that there was only one set of posts on the field, so there would be no conversions and no option to go for goal from penalties. A decision Lee Hagerty was more than happy with as our first and second choice goal kickers were unavailable for selection.


The first 30 minutes was by far the best period of the game for Aber. Historically slow starters, it was pleasing to see the boys get into their patterns early on. In the first exchanges it was immediately clear that the Dinas Powys 8 and 9 were going to cause Aber some problems. The 9 was looking sharp at the breakdown, an area where Abers defence had been weak in previous games, so it certainly needed to improve today. After absorbing early pressure, and with Abers first real phase of possession, hooker Kenzie makes a powerful run shrugging off a tackle and with a clean pair of heels outpaces the covering defence to cross for the first try of the game.




The Dinas Powys 8 was causing havoc at the lineout so first phase ball was often scrappy. The forwards identified this and were smart to organise and execute a number of quick rucks to get the go forward needed to get over the gain line. Centre Joe Dyer, who played a blinder in his debut in the first game of the season, found himself on the end of a great piece of attacking play by Aber. With work still to do he manages to navigate his way to the line to finish off a great move.




Dinas Powys weren't going to roll over as they got some good territory with a number of powerful carries down the middle. Abers achilles heel struck again at the breakdown, the Dinas 9, who had been looking dangerous all game, caught out the lazy defence with a sniping run. As soon as they got in behind it was inevitable they were going to come away with a score.




With there being no conversions there was no time to catch breath and the game kicked off. Dina Powys were careless with their exit and gave Aber good field position and an opportunity to fire back immediately. Even though the Dinas 8 was causing chaos in the lineout, he was helpless in the scrum which Aber dominated from start to finish. The home sides carelessness at the kick off gave Aber the opening which they took with both hands allowing centre Clarkey to go under the sticks (if the sticks were there).




Aber were clearly now in full control of the game and seemed to be winning the gain line battle with ease. The return of back rower Ashley Roberts, aka The Boat, was evident with his powerful ball carrying making big yards down the middle of the field, even throwing in a Sonny Bill esque offload. In typical Boat fashion, he was modest about this impressive bit of skill and insisted it was included in the write up at the same time telling me (and everyone else it seems) not to wind him up. The Boat must have sunk after this as this seemed to be the last contribution he made to the game.


Another scrum in good field position gave number 8 Tracy the platform he needed to pick up from the base. Showing good strength and pace he fends off the attempted tackle from the Dinas winger to go in at the corner.



HT 5-20.


Half time saw Aber make a number of changes, with this being the last opportunity to give game time and explore combinations before the season opener next week. Whether it was the number of changes, or whether complacency started to set in, but the next 40 minutes were a big contrast to the first for Aber.


Dinas were still clearly in the game and started the 2nd half with a bang. After 5 minutes they crossed Abers line.




Aber were now starting to revert to some of the poor play and attitude from the previous season, they were no longer playing as a team and instead were playing like 15 individuals. The next 10 minutes were scrappy, instead of building pressure slowly and going through the phases it seemed the boys were trying to win the game all by themselves. Frustration was starting to set in on the field as some of the Aber players were starting to question each others decisions.


Against the run of play, Kenzie again with another bull dozing run crosses the line to extend Abers lead. Thankfully this didn't appear to paper over the cracks from the players point of view and they knew they weren't playing well in the 2nd half.




Despite Abers efforts to go back to the way they were playing the first half, they found it difficult to put any number of phases together. The breakdown was often scrappy which resulted in a lot of slow ball, not giving the Aber back line many opportunities to run at the Dinas defence - any ball they did have seemed to agonisingly be put down with poor ball handling. Frustration was building again in the Aber ranks and Dinas were quick to capitalise. A strong run accompanied with a lazy defence allowed the home to easily break into the Aber 22, Aber were slow to set the defence and Dinas crossed the line for their 3rd try of the game.




After what had been a fairly contested game in the most part, an altercation at a breakdown boiled over into an ugly brawl on the far side of the field. It was difficult to see what had sparked the incident - but it was clear that frustration had gotten the better of some players from both teams. In true rugby fashion however the game restarted and went back to being fairly contested. The remaining minutes were fairly uneventful, but in one of the final plays of the game centre Clarey received the ball just outside his own 22. He may not have the pace he had 10 years ago, but his rugby brain is second to none - with good footwork he rides one tackle and draws in another while brilliantly offloading to winger Ben Rowe. Even with 60 meters in front of him nobody was going to catch the speedster who gallops over for Abers 6th and final try of the game.

FT - 15-30


If nothing else, this was a great way to end pre season for Aber - it goes without saying that the singing and drinking went will into the night and there is a real togetherness which has been absent in the last few seasons.


With the season opener just 1 week away, Aber will be pleased with their first half performance. However with 2 big training sessions in front of them, they have identified specific areas that desperately need working on - in reality they are simple fixes which i'm sure the coaches will be drilling into the team. Overall, after a good pre season Aber are in good shape to take on the league with a massive opening game against neighbours New Tredegar, who after a good pre season themselves and a new coaching set up will be confident when making the short trip down the road.




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