Aberystwyth RFC | 1st Team 8 - 30 Felinfoel RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
05 March 2023 / Team News

Strong Tackling Wasn't Enough

Aberystwyth RFC  8 – v  - 30  Felinfoel RFC

After drawing with Felinfoel away from home earlier this season – and coming very close to winning that game – Aber could have been forgiven for feeling confident of a win at home on Saturday. But with a weakened side and facing rejuvenated opponents, they were given a lesson in pressure rugby by a well drilled side.

The visitors sat in fifth position, one place above Aber, in the Division 1 West table before this game, having won six out of ten games played and amassed 35 points in the process. The hosts on the other hand had won five out of twelve games played earning 32 points.

On a still, dry day Aber kicked off and were awarded a penalty almost immediately. Steffan Rees’ kick took them deep into their opponents’ half where they stayed for fifteen minutes before earning a second penalty by Rees to take a 3 – 0 lead. From that point on Felinfoel became more competitive as they carried strongly forcing Aber to defend tirelessly. They drew level at 3 – 3 on 30 minutes with a penalty by their No 10, Johnny George, his first of many accurate place kicks.

The two teams matched each other in the set pieces with the visitors winning their own lineouts easily thanks to their taller jumpers and Aber equally comfortable thanks to a skillful jumping performance mainly from Bryn Shepherd. In the scrums too both sides were equal despite Felinfoel’s weight advantage. It was in loose play that Aber were at a disadvantage as handling and general teamwork suffered under their opponents’ more coordinated play. As the hosts’ error count increased so the visitors stepped up the pressure. When they were put on the defensive, their outside half, man-of-the-match  George’s accurate kicking from hand, was enough to keep Aber on the back foot.

A few minutes before half time it was noticeable that Felinfoel increased the pace of their game and put more pressure on the home side. As a result they took play down into Aber’s 22m where they were awarded a penalty. They went for touch 5m out and a quick catch-and-drive saw them score their opening try. This was very well converted by George to take the score to 3 – 10 at half-time.    

Unusually the visitors spent the interval break in the changing room and when the second half started it became clear that they had hatched a plan to exploit Aber’s weaknesses. They kicked off and immediately drove the home side back to their 22m where their pressure earned them a penalty to increase their lead to 3 – 13. They adopted the same tactics from the restart and were camped near Aber’s line for a long period. The hosts’ handling errors gave Felinfoel scrum after scrum but Aber held out well. They were awarded a penalty but some undisciplined reaction made the referee reverse his decision and awarded the penalty to the visitors. They kicked for position 5m from Aber’s line, won the lineout and another catch-and-drive earned them a second try which George converted to widen the gap to 3 - 20.

To their credit, the hosts reacted spiritedly and with more powerful rucking, carrying and support, from their forwards, made good ground. Their only try of the afternoon came from a lineout on Felinfoel’s 5m line. The visitors won their throw-in but then lost possession under pressure from Aber’s back row and it was Bryn Shepherd who touched down topping a good afternoon’s work. With the score now at 8 – 20 it was still anyone’s game, but unfortunately, Aber’s revival was shortlived as the visitors took play upfield to the home 22m. After a series of successful rucks George dummied his way over near the posts. His conversion extended his side’s lead to 8 – 27.

In the closing stages Felinfoel threw everything into their effort to earn a bonus point try, but Aber held firm with solid defending and when the visitors were awarded a penalty 40m from Aber’s line, they elected to kick for goal. Another excellent kick from George closed the scoring at 8 – 30.

Although the final score reflects the amount of possession Felinfoel had during the game, it does not do justice to Aber’s brave and tireless tackling. At full strength the hosts would have given a far better account of themselves but as it was, the visitors’ superior teamwork and understanding won the day.

Aber remain in the top half of the Div 1 West table despite not picking up any points from yesterday’s game, but they have a difficult match away against third placed Gowerton on 25th March followed by an easier game against Pembroke on 1st April.

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