22 August 2021 / Club News

Seconds v Machynlleth

Aberystwyth Athletic – v – Machynlleth RFC

15-a – side rugby made a welcome return to Plascrug on Saturday when, after many years’ absence, Aber’s newly-revived second XV took on Machynlleth in a pre-season friendly match.

Team Managers Craig Turner, Andy Davies and the club coaches assembled a squad of 24 Aber players for the game. For nine of these it was their first ever senior game. That they were able to assemble such a sizeable squad was a testament to their hard work in recruitment and preparation over the past few months.

The physical contrast between the two teams was immediately apparent as soon as they took the field. The visitors were older, taller and heavier than their opponents and their greater experience and teamwork were to be deciding factors in the end.

Aber started very strongly, playing fast, open rugby from the kick-off. They opened the scoring with a well taken try in the corner by Tomos Jenkins. This was superbly converted from wide out by Daniel Elwyn to put the home side 7 – 0 ahead. Aber attacked again from the Machynlleth kick off and good inter-passing and support led to their second try under the posts by hooker Carwyn Thomas. This too was converted by captain Daniel Elwyn and Aber were 14 points to the good almost within as many minutes.

From that point discipline weakened and the home side played into the visitors’ hands by keeping the game tight instead of stretching their heavier opponents with faster, smoother moves. Ground was lost as penalties were given away and this allowed Machynlleth back into the game. As a result their full-back James was able to break through for a try which outside half Steff Price converted to close the gap to 14 – 7.

Aber seemed to find it difficult to regain the fluid rugby they had played so effectively at the beginning and persisted with the close game that suited their opponents. Machynlleth had most of the possession in the early part of the second half and it was entirely with the run of play that Ifor Evans scored their second try. This went unconverted but the gap was now down to two points at 14 - 12.

The visitors gained territory from Aber’s kick-off and their pressure forced errors from the hosts. Machynlleth took the lead for the first time in the game with a penalty from in front of the posts by Price to close the scoring at 14 – 15.

Everyone involved with the development of Aber’s new second string can feel very satisfied with the squad’s opening performance. They were excellent in defence and did not hold back in committing themselves to tackling bigger, heavier opponents. Aber’s scrummaging was also a real eye-opener. They pushed the heavier visitors’ eight off the ball on several occasions with concerted snap shoves.

This was a contest between an experienced Machynlleth side who had played a lot of rugby together, and a squad of younger opponents most of whom are new to senior rugby. Aber Athletic’s performance will have given players and coaches a lot of confidence for the coming season and will also keep many first XV players on their toes now that they have competition from eager and fit club mates. The approaching season should be very interesting.      

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