19 August 2018 / Club News

Pre season preparation continues

Our second pre-season game took us on the short journey down the valley to Fleur de Lys RFC. There seemed to be a lot of interest in this game despite it only being a friendly - but as we all know there is no such thing as a friendly in rugby. Aber knew this would be a much sterner test against a team competing in a higher league.


In seasons gone by, the exclusion of a number of key players due to injury/unavailability would have seen heads drop before a ball was kicked - however the mindset the coaching team have instilled during pre-season has been to take these setbacks as opportunities to try new combinations, and more importantly give some of our new signings some game time.


The Aber starting XV combined a big heavy pack, with a backline of experience, youth and a number of debuts again which is great to see.


In the first exchanges it was clear that Aber would need to keep a close eye on Fleurs big ball carrying number 8. Fleur seemed to be getting a lot of easy yards around the ruck area from pick and go’s and little short pop passes. This was an issue that was not rectified quickly enough and Fleur took advantage as they seemed to waltz through a ruck on the Aber 22 to go in under the sticks.




Aber began to slowly get into the game, the lineouts were working well and completely dominated the scrum. With the set piece working well it gave Abers backs the chance to move the ball, however the Fleur defence was strong and their back row was quick to disrupt the breakdown. It was a frustrating first 30 minutes for Aber, they seemed to give away a lot of needless penalties and were struggling to get out of their own half. Territory and possession were all in favour of Fleur. Thankfully the Aber defence was strong and they did not allow Fleur to capitalize on Abers poor discipline with ball in hand.


The final 10 minutes of the first half saw Aber begin to get some good field position allowing some good attacking opportunities. An Aber lineout on the Fleur 22 resulted in a controlled driving maul, hooker Robert Davies (Sponge) broke away and came within a yard of the line - Aber lacked composure in the next phase and the ball was desperately lost in contact and Fleur came away with their line still intact. Fleur still found themselves under pressure in the next few minutes with their scrum half box kicking in field giving full back Christopher Jenkins a chance to open up. After beating a few players he grubbers through but the Fleur covering defence was quick to react to dot down over the line.


Aber go in at half time 7-0 down. The second half sees Aber make a number of changes resulting in a lot of reshuffling to the back line.


The first 10 minutes of the 2nd half were disastrous for Aber. Fleurs big 8 takes the ball just inside the Aber half and brushes off a tackle to make a clear break. With space in front of him he was able to pick up speed and brushed off another 2 tackles. Aber’s young wing, and smallest player on the pitch, Macauley Simpson, makes a valiant effort but the big 8 was just too strong and goes in at the corner.




A mistake from the kick off gave Fleur another good attacking platform. Their back line began finding holes in the Aber defence and were making good yards. Aber’s backs were against the wall and the pressure was telling as they got up to Abers line - fortunately Fleur put a pass down resulting in a defensive scrum 5 meters out.


Another miscommunication during the exit play saw a loose kick find the Fleur full back, the poor kick was followed by a poor chase and the Fleur back found his way to the line. Within 10 minutes Aber had a mountain to climb from what was seemingly 2 very soft tries to concede.




It seemed like it was going to be a long 25 minutes for Aber as Fleur were completely on top and looked like their were going to run away with it. Aber regathered and did not let their heads drop - the character of the team began to show as they got themselves back into the game and started to build some phases together. Aber finally got into Fleurs 22, but Fleur again were quick to defuse the threat with a smart turnover.


The Aber scrum was on a rampage as it decimates the Fleur pack resulting in a penalty, however an attempted quick tap by Andrew Trace was knocked on - this seemed to be the story of the day for Aber. The frustration was clear to see on the players’ faces, they were giving their all and wanted to play but the execution just seemed to be slightly off. The resulting scrum gave the Aber pack a chance to redeem the earlier error, and again dismantles the Fleur scrum and were awarded with another penalty - skipper Andrew Trace learned his lesson and orders the ball to be kicked to touch.


Aber began showing their offloading skills from last week and a couple of quick phases of play saw the blind side open up. Tracey finds himself in some space and makes a powerful run towards the line, he is brought down just meters short but the support was there, a quick ruck and the ball found itself in the hands of speedy debutent wing Ben Rowe who skillfully navigates his way to the line.




This was a fantastic reaction from Aber who could have easily gone into their shells, instead they were finishing the game the stronger of the 2 teams. The dominance of the Aber scrum showed as Fleur decided to go passive - a real feather in the cap for the Aber set piece. In the closing minutes Fleurs discipline, which was fantastic all game, started to go as they began giving away penalties eventually resulting in a yellow card. This gave Aber one last chance for a consolation try - Aber won the lineout and had some good field position but again Fleur were there to make a smart turnover. There were no more real chances and the game ended 19-5.


Despite the defeat, there are some real positives to take away for Aber, but it has also highlighted some areas which clearly need to be worked on. The scoreline reflected the game as a whole, with Fleur taking their opportunities and Aber leaving a few points out there.


A special mention for Abers wingers; debutant and try scorer Ben, and youngster Macauley who both had fantastic games largely on the back foot. Really looking forward to seeing what this pair can do with more ball in hand.


The coaches man of the match however goes to scrum half Aaron Matthews who had a solid game as usual - Mr Reliable.


No game next week but we travel down to Tondu on 1st September for our 3rd and final pre-season game. There is a bus on - if anyone would like a seat contact Jayne Edwards to book your place.

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