Carmarthen Athletic RFC | 1st Team 18 - 17 Aberystwyth RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
09 October 2016 / Team News

Narrow Cup Defeat

WRU National Plate Round 1.

Carmarthen Athletic 18 – Aberystwyth 17

Aber selected a starting XV of mixed experience and ability for this first round match in the WRU National Plate, but should, on paper at least, have been able to win. Carmarthen Athletic are currently third from the bottom of Division 2 West whereas Aber occupy fourth place in Division 1.

The visitors’ lack of cohesion in the forwards showed as early as the first scrum when their lighter pack was demolished by the host eight who took Aber’s scrum ball at will. When the visitors did succeed in winning their scrum ball they were often pushed off it again by a rampant home pack. There were also weaknesses in Aber’s lineout play. When the visitors won their ball, it was often slapped back creating difficulties for their scrum half and opportunities for the home forwards to break through and disrupt possession. As a result, when Aber did manage to move the ball out, they were often on the retreat and unsympathetic passing and general mishandling let them down further as promising moves failed. However, the visitors made up for these weaknesses with some tenacious tackling and sustained pressure, but even in this phase of the game they were unable to maintain any consistency.

After fifteen minutes the home side put their first points on the board when their scrum half charged down a clearance kick by Aber and raced through for an unconverted try. This encouraged them to greater efforts and they doubled their score with a second unconverted try five minutes later after some loose covering by the visitors. After one of the opposition props was yellow carded Aber took advantage and stormed downfield winning more second phase ball. They were rewarded by a solo try under the posts by Mathew Hughes after an excellent forty metre break. Llyr Thomas  converted to take the score to 10-7.

The Carmarthen No 10 put in an excellent kick from the restart which Aber failed to deal with adequately. As a result, play was taken to the Aber 22m and remained there for some time. Aber’s defence held out but eventually from another poorly delivered lineout ball, a home side prop stole the ball and barged over for a try to take the half time score to 15-7.

Aber then made some key substitutions and raised their game as a result. A good break by Lee Evans carried on by his co-forwards took play well into the home half. From a lineout five metres out a Carmarthen forward was penalised and Llyr Thomas added three points to the visitors score to take them to 15-10. Poor fielding of the Carmarthen kick off again put Aber under pressure and the home side capitalised on this by dropping a goal to take the score to 18-10. Aber again came back and mounted some threatening attacks. From one such attack Llyr Thomas came into the line from full-back and from his brilliant fingertip catch of a long, low pass the ball was fed to Carwyn Evans on the wing to score a try that was well converted by Thomas to close the gap to 18-17 at the final whistle. 

That the score should have been so close at the end shows how poor the Carmarthen XV were at finishing off promising moves given their dominance. They gained considerable territorial advantage and the lion’s share of possession, but due to their own sloppiness and good, if inconsistent Aber covering, they were unable to capitalise on their superiority.

It was clear that Aber’s starting XV, especially the forwards, had not played together sufficiently to have developed some understanding and fluency in their game. The closeness of the final score also shows the impact that late substitutions had on Aber’s performance. Perhaps, had the starting XV been the strongest available on the day, they could have built up a controlling lead before fielding less experienced substitutes. With this early exit from the Plate campaign Aber can now focus on sustaining their encouraging start to life in Division 1 West.

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