Newcastle Emlyn RFC | 1st Team 41 - 18 Aberystwyth RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
19 December 2021 / Team News

Spirited Performance

Newcastle Emlyn RFC   41 – v – 18   Aberystwyth RFC

Aber closed their league programme for 2021 with a disappointing defeat to Newcastle Emlyn RFC on Saturday. Such has been the disruption to the programme of matches throughout this and all other leagues that mid-season positions have been largely meaningless because of the variation in number of games played among the twelve teams in Division 1. As a result of this win, Aber’s second place was deservedly taken by the home team – gaining five points -  with Aber dropping to third place having gained none.

Playing conditions at Dol Wiber were perfect for open, running rugby and after recent performances the visitors felt confident as they kicked off. Possession and territory were fiercely contested by both sides and honours in set pieces and in the loose were fairly even in the early stages. Ben Jones on Aber’s right wing looked threatening with breaks and chips ahead but it was the hosts who took the lead well into the first half with a Shaun Leonard penalty from Aber’s 10-metre line.

After this, the game returned to a mid-field battle between the two 22-metre lines with neither side gaining a clear advantage or creating opportunities. The stalemate was eventually broken by a breakout by the home side from Aber’s 10-metre line. Unselfish offloads and good support running resulted in Andrew Owens going over in the corner for the first try of the game This was well converted by Leonard to increase the hosts’ lead to 10 – 0.

The pattern of play reverted to a mid-field battle again and, with the pressure beginning to tell, they were forced to concede a set-piece penalty and driven back to their 22-metre line. From the resulting lineout the hosts’ Elliot Rees burst through to score a try in the corner, again very well converted by Leonard. Although Aber replied with a Steff Rees penalty, the home team remained comfortably ahead by 17 – 3 at half time.

NCE continued to apply pressure up front and, even though Aber still competed strongly in rucks and mauls, the hosts gradually gained the upper hand in scrums and lineouts. However, it was Aber who were first to score in the second period with an excellent 40-metre penalty from Steff Rees to close the gap to 17 – 6. The home side’s response was fast and effective as Dean James crossed in the corner for another try very well converted by Leonard to increase their lead to 24 – 6.

The hosts’ bonus point try came after Aber had gained ground and applied pressure from the restart. A breakout by NCE saw a period of fierce defending by Aber before Andrew Owens scored his second try again in the corner and again well converted by Leonard to bring the score to 31 – 6. This was followed by an untidy period of play which came to life when a speculative chip over the hosts’ defence was very well followed up by Ben Jones who scored an unconverted try in the corner to close the gap to 31 – 11.

Although Aber continued to apply pressure, they found it difficult to retain possession for long enough to mount any sustained challenges. A Leonard drop goal increased NCE’s lead to 34 – 11 before Aber bounced back from the restart with probing kicks from Matthew Hughes and pressure from Ian Ellis. But their second try came from the forwards as Lee Truck scored from the base of a ruck. Steff Rees added the conversion to bring the score to 34 – 18.

In a fitting finale to a hard fought and entertaining match, Shaun Leonard scored and converted the last try for the home side to give them victory by 41 – 18. In so doing they climbed to second place in Div 1, one place and six points behind Llangennech, Aber’s next opponents at Plascrug on January 8th.    

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