Loughor 20 Aberystwyth 12
Aberystwyth, currently third in Division 1 West, travelled to Loughor, currently third from the bottom of the table, for Saturday’s match. Aber had narrowly won the home fixture by a single point back in the autumn, but were second best on Saturday.
It is difficult to believe that a side that was capable of playing intelligent, entertaining and winning rugby up to and including their excellent win against Gorseinon in mid-January, have lost their way since then, losing their last three games. On Saturday, for the first time this season, they failed to score a try and gained no bonus points at all.
Ground conditions were good and there was very little wind to affect play. Aber were quickly on the scoresheet with an excellent penalty by No 10, Steff Rees from 45 metres out. Loughor replied with a penalty by full-back Jamie George after the visitors were adjudged to have infringed at the breakdown. Both teams were evenly matched at this stage with play taking place between the two 22 metre lines. Possession and territory were evenly shared and fiercely contested as both sides carried and tackled aggressively.
Both sides moved the ball wide and both defences had their work cut out to contain their opponents’ attacks. The Aber eight had clear supremacy in the scrums and after three set pieces and three huge shoves they finally won a penalty which Rees again converted from 30 metres out for a narrow 3 – 6 lead. The visitors were penalised on the half-way line and Loughor found touch 10 metres from their line. They had no answer to the home side’s driving maul and from this lineout prop Nathan Thomas went over for a try which George converted to move them into a 10 – 6 lead.
Just before half time Aber winger Dean Coleman was very harshly adjudged to have tip-tackled his opposite number and was shown a red card. This very improbable offence and the punishment that followed clearly restricted the visitors’ attacking options from then on.
Aber attacked from the kick-off in the second half and gained a penalty 15 metres out which Rees again converted to take them up to a single point of Loughor at 10 – 9.
Although the visitors were dominant in the scrums on their own put-in, they were not so effective in disrupting the opposition’s scrums as Loughor quickly channelled the ball out. In the lineouts Robbie Parry and especially Bryn Shepherd for Aber, won ball on their own throw in but had no answer to the home side’s superior jumping on their own ball where captain Tom Davies was outstanding.
The game continued to move up and down the field with neither side looking as though they would break through the other’s stubborn defence. The stalemate was broken when Aber were awarded a penalty after a good break by Llyr Thomas down the left wing. Rees was again successful and the visitors regained the lead at 10-12. However, this lead was short-lived as George landed a penalty for Loughor from 25 metres to move 13 – 12 ahead.
Aber were still in with a chance of gaining a losing bonus point but regaining the lead seemed to lift the home side as they fed off Aber’s indecision and high error count to dominate the closing stages. The visitors won their own lineout five metres from their line but Loughor stole possession and after some close interpassing and weak Aber tackling, veteran scrum half Steve Wake went over untouched. George’s conversion closed the score for the day at 20 - 12.
For Aber the half-back combination of Pitt and Rees worked well with the latter place kicking and kicking from hand very well. This run of bad results for Aber will raise the hopes of those opponents that await them from now to the end of the season. The team needs to urgently regain the fluid, intelligent style of play and the tactics that brought them so much success in the opening half of the season.
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