Aberystwyth RFC | 1st Team 15 - 20 Crymych RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
22 January 2023 / Team News

Tough in the Mud

Aberystwyth RFC 1st XV 15  -  v  -  20 Crymych RFC 1st XV

Crymych RFC arrived at Plascrug on Saturday as leaders of the Admiral National League 1 West with an unbeaten record for the season and, on a tacky playing surface in dry conditions, they maintained that record with an impressive display of pressure rugby. Rarely will Aber have such a domination of the set pieces, securing a lion’s share of possession, and end up on the losing side.

But on the day the hosts were out-thought tactically and rivalled physically. No sooner would Aber win the ball than they were instantly confronted by two or three Crymych defenders who would compete fiercely to halt any attacks. For much of the game Aber found that the visitors would give them no room to move and no time to think. This gave Crymych the scope to defend very effectively and to counter attack at every opportunity.

Second row forwards Will Taylor and Dorian Jones gave Aber a significant height advantage in the lineouts and, with the support of their fellow forwards, won all their own ball and a lot of the opposition’s as well. In the scrums and mauls too Aber made full use of their weight advantage to secure their own ball and disrupt Crymych’s scrums. But it was in the use of possession that the visitors shone. Their ‘heads-up’ style of play made sure that they recognized attacking opportunities early and often caught Aber out with switches in direction of play, short kicks over the heads of the hosts’ defence and with close support of their ball carriers.

From Crymych’s kick off Aber won and retained possession well but the visitors’ pressure in defence was already apparent as the hosts eventually lost the ball and were forced back downfield. The visitors opened the scoring with a penalty on the 22m when Aber failed to release the ball and full back Phillips put them 0 – 3 ahead. Their first try of the afternoon soon followed as their forwards stole loose ball from Aber and drove hard to gain ground deep in their opponents’ half. A speculative high kick to the corner was caught by their winger to touch down and an excellent conversion took the score to 0 – 10 at half time.

Crymych started the second half with as much physicality and pressure as they had shown in the first half and it was entirely with the run of play that they scored their second try. Winning a scrum on their own ball within Aber’s 22m their No 8 picked up and drove forward before feeding hooker Rees up in support to crash over. This try went unconverted but they were now 0 – 15 ahead.

Aber opened their account when they won a maul in the visitors’ 22m from the restart. The ball was moved to the left where winger Ian Ellis ran hard and cut through for an unconverted try to close the deficit to 5 – 15. Shortly after Aber again worked the ball to the left for Ellis to run strongly. Unfortunately he was forced into touch a metre from the line. Crymych won the ensuing lineout and the ball was fed to their outside half. He put in a chip over the heads of Aber’s attackers; the ball was seized on by winger Evans who broke tackles and outsprinted the home side’s cover to run 80m to score his side’s third try. This went unconverted but their lead was now stretched to 5 – 20.

Aber came back strongly in the final fifteen minutes of the game and were camped in Crymych’s 22m area for most of that time. The forwards’ efforts to force their way through were thwarted by determined defence. When the ball was eventually fed out to the backs, Steffan Rees put in a high kick to the corner which Ian Ellis caught and grounded for his second try of the game. Again the conversion failed but Aber were back in the hunt at 10 – 20.

The home side continued to press hard with a counter-attack from the restart and, with the help of a penalty and a winning lineout, they camped close to the Crymych tryline. Drive after drive eventually saw substitute flanker Paul Stubbs driven over for an unconverted try and a closing scoreline of 15 – 20. This gave Aber a losing bonus point which had seemed very unlikely during most of the game.

The home side’s forwards worked hard and won enough possession to win the match. But Crymych made up for their lack of set piece ball with tenacious first-time tackling and unrelenting pressure which made life very uncomfortable for the hosts’ backs. Aber have two of the best wingers in Division 1, but they are not used quickly enough nor often enough to take full advantage of their class.

Next Saturday Aber 1st XV travel to Newcastle Emlyn for another difficult game. Aber Athletic travel to Crymych to play their second XV while Aber Youth are due to play Whitland Youth at home. All matches kick off at 2.30.

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