Tenby United • 33
Aberystwyth • 7
League 1 West
TENBY welcomed an Aberystwyth team, which boasted the best defensive record having conceded just one try on average in Division 1 West this season, to Heywood Lane last Saturday (Sept 30) and ran out 33-7 winners scoring four tries to secure maximum points in a fully committed performance.
Not having played each other for twelve seasons in a league fixture, home skipper Johnnie Morgan elected for his side to play against the elements in the first period, where heavy rain before kick off and a driving wind off the sea meant the hosts would have to be at their best defensively to keep the ‘Bluebears’ at bay.
Tenby did more than that as they showed a willingness to move the Jewsons sponsored ball through the hands of their back division
The Aberystwyth side relied heavily on keeping the ball close to their pack of forwards although scrum half Gruf Jones was often passing over 20m to the aligned ‘pods’ which restricted the pace and drive which his side required to penetrate the stoic home defence, where young hooker Kyle Hamer and prop Rob Luly stood out alongside the back row of Andrew Cooke, Barry Parsons and number 8 Roy Osborn.
Using the wind, territory was with Aber during the first half with centre Tom Evans creating an opportunity through some strong running for wing Gwern Penri, who spilled the scoring pass with the line beckoning.
The handling error was something the visitors suffered from throughout the game and may have been a reason why they kept the ball tight, although both Jones and his half back partner Llyr Thomas may well reflect on their game management further.
Winger Josh Thomas, playing on permit from Whitland made ground into the home midfield close to the midway point of the first half, combining in midfield with Evans and linking in hooker Owain Bonsall to where a resultant penalty attempt by Thomas was missed.
The opening score of the game came after 22 minutes when Tenby second row Dewi Davies secured lineout ball outside his 22m line, allowing full back Morgan to clear the ball 40m upfield.
The home pack caught opposition full back Casmir Yandell on the halfway line and wrestled possession back to scrum half Matthew Morgan to make 15m as he danced around the periphery of the ensuing ruck.
His pass found the hands of supporting half back partner Ashley Sutton who escaped the clutches of would be tacklers to run in from 30m under the posts and convert his try.
The half continued in the same pattern for Aber as they tried to run ball back from their own half when perhaps some leadership from the half backs to play in the 22m may have reaped rewards; number 8 Lee Evan managed to put Carwyn Evans in space but his hands let him down, as did Penri when he had a 10m clear run to the line for him to spill the crucial pass.
Referee Justin Williams had given both sides every opportunity to play as he used advantage and consistently applied the laws for the teams to know who was in charge and following his whistle to start the second half, with the elements in their favour and leading 7-0 Tenby took advantage straight away from the kick off when Lee Gower spilled Sutton’s restart.
After several phases of play deep in their opponents 22 Sutton pinged a drop goal wide of the posts before a second try was scored through the hands of Yanik Parker.
The winger rounded off a move where Hamer, Clarke created a channel for centre Jack Guerreio to enter at pace and put Parker beyond the last defender although Sutton could add the extras as he pushed the conversion across the posts.
Aber, through Bonsall and Evans had a pack of forwards which had parity with their home counterparts in the loose and at line outs, plus dominating the scrum, where they had considerable advantage to push the home eight backwards.
Not being able to capitalise on this a third Tenby try arrived as they gained possession deep in their own half.
Mathew Morgan took the ball off Parker before centre Moritz Neuman was one on one against Yandell as Full-back Jonny Morgan appeared outside him to create the extra man and score under the posts. Sutton added the conversion for a confident home side to lead 19-0, putting behind them the three defeats they have encountered in a row.
The bonus point came for the now dominant home side, who had stopped another Aber forward drive through Evans, Bonsall and Robbie Parry, returning the ball to the opposition 22.
Second row Williams secured crucial ball and his fellow forwards went through four phases of controlled drives before Osborne burrowed his way over the line for Sutton to again convert.
Aber came back once again through Bonsall who efforts in the loose made him stand out for the visitors, from which the ball was recycled across the line.
Thomas was hauled down just short on the line by Sutton, as Tenby reshuffled their back line all game to let their heavy hitters cover the inside channels and Sutton didn’t let the side down with his tackle.
Tenby were guilty of some handling errors as they made replacements during the final quarter, and from one such misplay Aber had an attacking 5m scrum from which the home eight pushed through once again the home pack, which captain Lee ‘Truck’ Evans picked up at the base of the scrum and touch down for Thomas to drop through the conversion.
The restart for Aber was once again a disaster as prop Jamie Plumbridge and second row Bryn Shepherd lacked communication and the loose ball was thrust into the hands of a marauding Tenby pack.
Establishing a strong attacking platform through several rucks centre Neuman set up the final scoring move with a strong run, where Sutton looped around prop Rob Clarke to the offload the ball to replacement winger Jordan Asparrasa who potted over and Sutton added the coupe de grace to a fine Tenby performance.
Home coach Chris James was jubilant in his post-match analysis ‘as his side stood up to the task’. He said: “We worked hard on our defence game this week in training after some less than brilliant performances which have cost us dearly, but today we were excellent. Johnnie [Morgan] elected to play into the elements on winning the toss and it set us up from the start, with strong tackles and a well organised defence line.
“We worked hard to gain parity against a renowned physical visiting set of forwards and we were able to develop as the second half went on, so much so we dictated much of the final part of the game when the heavens opened.
”Prop Rob Luly epitomised our work rate as he kept his composure in our under pressure scrum whilst also being a stand out performer in the loose, so he will enjoy the steaks provided by Heywoods Butchers as he was deservedly man of the match.”
Tenby head to Llanelli Wanderers tomorrow (Oct 7) in a WRU Plate match against a side they defeated 42-23 on the opening day of the season.
Aber head coach Andrew Barlow acknowledged his side ’didn’t take advantage of the wind in the first half as we tried to run from deep when perhaps we should have played the percentage game more’.
“It hasn’t helped that we have a few injuries in our back line and today we had a back three who not trained together, but no excuses as we were roundly defeated against a side who play good rugby on an outstanding surface, despite the weather,” he said.
Nuemann set to make first start for Wales
FULLBACK Lisa Neumann will make her first start for Wales at Donnybrook this Sunday (Feb 25) (15:00) in Round Three of the Women’s Six Nations.
The 23-year-old from Pembrokeshire is the only new player in the starting line-up to face Ireland. Meanwhile, loosehead prop Cara Hope could win her first international cap from the bench.
“Lisa has been pushing hard for a place in the starting team and she deserves her opportunity this Sunday,” said Phillips, who has enjoyed the benefit of having former Wales international Gareth Wyatt coaching the backs since the start of the tournament. “We have a lot of talented back-three players in the squad, so we think Lisa will slot in well alongside Hannah Bluck and Jess Kavanagh-Williams – two players who pose threats from the wing.”
Phillips recently spoke about his team not being burdened by an “emotional hangover” from the result at the Twickenham Stoop, and insists that preparations for Ireland have been geared towards one thing. “We need to show that we’re improving in the areas that we’ve been working on this year,” said Phillips. “This will be a game between two very evenly-matched teams, and coming off the back of the last match we’re very keen to give a good account of ourselves.”
The last time both teams met in competition was during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August – a game Wales won by 10 points at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. However, Phillips says that result won’t count for much come Sunday in Donnybrook, particularly after Ireland’s winning performance in a pre-Women’s Six Nations friendly with Wales in Ystrad Mynach earlier this year.
“Ireland were competing for a Grand Slam going into the final game of the competition last year, so we know how much of a strong team they are. The World Cup was a bit of an anomaly for them, so they’ve had a point to prove since then.
“They’ve got a lot of new personnel across the board, but the team is settled and experienced. It’s up for us to show what we’re about as a team. We’ll certainly be prepared for a hugely competitive match in front of a boisterous Irish crowd this Sunday.”
Wales Women team to face Ireland:
15 Lisa Neumann (Scarlets)
14 Hannah Bluck (Cardiff Blues)
13 Kerin Lake (Ospreys)
12 Rebecca De Filippo (Dragons)
11 Jess Kavanagh-Williams (RGC)
10 Elinor Snowsill (Dragons)
9 Rhiannon Parker (Cardiff Blues)
1 Caryl Thomas (Scarlets)
2 Carys Phillips (c) (Ospreys)
3 Amy Evans (Ospreys)
4 Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
5 Mel Clay (Ospreys)
6 Alisha Butchers (Scarlets)
7 Beth Lewis (Scarlets)
8 Sioned Harries (Scarlets)
16 Kelsey Jones (Ospreys)
17 Cara Hope (Ospreys)*
18 Meg York (Dragons)
19 Natalia John (Ospreys)
20 Nia Elen Davies (Scarlets)
21 Jade Knight (Scarlets)
22 Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys)
23 Hannah Jones (Scarlets)
Biggar, Williams and Halfpenny in Wales team to face Ireland
WALES have made three changes to their starting XV to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (KO 14.15) with British & Irish Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny all returning to the side.
Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury to make his 61st appearance for his country and will line up alongside Gareth Davies at half-back.
Halfpenny and Williams join Steff Evans in the back-three with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams continuing their partnership in the midfield.
Wales have named an unchanged pack for the trip to Dublin. The all-Scarlets front-row of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee feature for a third consecutive game. Cory Hill partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.
“It is great to be able to bring so much experience back into the starting XV and into the backline,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will take charge of Wales for the 100th time.
“It is the first week we have had everyone in the ‘green’ in terms of availability which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important test match against a very good Ireland side.
“We have been pleased with the depth we have developed in the back-three and pleased with how those players have gone but having the experience of Dan, Liam and Leigh coming back in is hugely important.
“We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too.”
Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis are named as the front-row replacements with Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe and George North provide the back-line cover.
Wales Team to play Ireland:
Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (75 Caps)
Liam Williams (Saracens) (45 Caps)
Scott Williams (Scarlets) (53 Caps)
Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (3 Caps)
Steff Evans (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (60 Caps)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (29 Caps)
Rob Evans (Scarlets) (22 Caps)
Ken Owens (Scarlets) (54 Caps)
Samson Lee (Scarlets) (35 Caps)
Cory Hill (Dragons) (12 Caps)
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (115 Caps) CAPT
Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (15 Caps)
Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (9 Caps)
Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (19 Caps)
Elliot Dee (Dragons) (4 Caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (28 Caps)
Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (59 Caps)
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (54 Caps)
Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)
George North (Northampton Saints) (70 Caps)
Aber earn a point against Prestatyn
ABERYSTWYTH Town battled to a 1-1 draw against a resolute Prestatyn Town side, in a frantic JD Welsh Premier League clash at Park Avenue on Friday night (Feb 16).
Geoff Kellaway’s 78th minute header was enough to earn Aber a point after Damian Ketley had given the visitors a 20th minute lead, in a game where the home side saw a host of golden opportunities go begging.
Aber manager Nev Powell named an unchanged side from last weekend’s home victory against Llandudno, and his side got off to a bright start as John Owen struck his half volley narrowly over the crossbar after just 2 minutes.
Soon after, Aber were on the attack again as Declan Walker tried his luck from range, before Owen dragged his left footed effort wide of the post.
But it was the visitors who took the lead in the 20th minute with their first effort on target. After Noah Edwards’ corner kick was headed clear in the penalty area, the ball ricocheted for Damian Ketley who prodded the ball home inside the 6 yard box to make it 1-0.
Aber responded well to going behind, continuing to play the ball through the midfield trio of Tom Owens, Damien Allen and Malcolm Melvin, and on 30 minutes came close to finding the equaliser as Ryan Wade volleyed straight into the palms of Carl Jones in the Prestatyn goal.
The hosts continued to press for a way back into the game as Jones saved Tom Owens’ tame header, before Joe Phillips’ curling effort sailed just over the crossbar, but it was to remain 1-0 at half time with much work to do in the second 45 minutes.
Aber striker Craig Hobson was introduced at half time in place of Joe Phillips, as Town looked for an immediate impact from the target man.
Soon after the restart, the hosts saw another glorious chance go begging as John Owen chested the ball down in the penalty area before seeing his shot bounce off Jones and behind for a corner.
Then, on 54 minutes came the game’s most controversial moment, as the referee brandished a red card for Prestatyn sub Zebb Edwards after he appeared to use foul and abusive language.
This swung the momentum of the game in Aber’s favour even further, as Geoff Kellaway and Luke Borelli were introduced in place of Tom Owens and Ryan Wade.
On 70 minutes, Kellaway almost had an immediate impact as he scampered down the left flank before crossing dangerously, only for Dave Hayes to produce a vital block.
Then, on 78 minutes Aber finally found their equaliser, as Malcolm Melvin cut inside before providing an inch-perfect cross for Kellaway to glance home an excellent header beyond Jones to make it 1-1.
Suddenly the home supporters found their voices as they urged their team forwards to find the winner.
To their credit, the 10-man visitors were defending admirably, harrying and hassling Aber all over the pitch.
On 82 minutes, Town thought they’d found the winning goal, as John Owen deflected in Hobson’s glancing header, only for the linesman’s offside flag to deny the front man.
As the game entered the final minutes, Aber continued to huff and puff without blowing the house down.
In the dying seconds, the hosts pushed for one final opportunity, as Ashley Young launched the ball into the penalty area, where Declan Walker’s attempted overhead kick fell to Damien Allen, who’s right footed shot flew agonisingly wide of the far post.
Unfortunately it just wasn’t Aber’s night as they were forced to settle for a point, in a game that could have been so different had they taken their opportunities.
Nevertheless, Nev Powell’s side still remain 10 points clear of bottom side Prestatyn Town, and move to within 4 points of the Europa League play-off spot in the JD Welsh Premier League table.
Aber must now turn their attentions to Sunday’s (Feb 25) huge JD Welsh Premier League clash with west Wales rivals Carmarthen Town at Richmond Park, kick off at 5:15pm.
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