WITH the pitch in pristine condition, Aber started the game full of purpose and intent and were 14 points to nil up after 10 minutes.
The first try was a beauty with a wrap-around move by influential outside half Mathew Hughes, freeing up Adam Carvell to run strongly for the corner. As the cover defence came across, he passed inside to the ever supporting flanker Paul Stubbs, who crossed for the first try.
This was converted by Llyr Thomas. Loughor then missed a penalty attempt when Aber were penalised for not rolling away from the tackle area.
The next score for Aber was even better than the first when Mathew Hughes made a searing break from open play and passed inside to Gruff Jones to score a class try. This was also converted by Llyr Thomas to make the score 14 – 0 after only 10 minutes.
If the first period of the half had been dominated by Aber and Mathew Hughes in particular, the next period was dominated by Loughor scrum half Tom Davies, who scored two tries and converted them both to make the half time score 14 – 14.
His first try came when Loughor worked their winger free down the right. Some excellent cover defence tackled him just short of the line and, after some disciplined close drives, scrum half Davies forced his way over. He also converted it to make the score 14 – 7.
During this period, Aber were handing the initiative to Loughor with the concession of petty penalties and bouts of indiscipline which did nothing to help their cause.
Davies’ second try, which was very similar to his first, came after he made a fine break was tackled short and after a couple of drives by the pack was on hand to score his second which he converted to make the score 14-14.
Aber dominated the next period of play with Mathew Hughes making another fine break and a great off-load the cover defence nullified the attack and cleared their lines. Aber’s scrum was by now becoming more dominant and from one they were surprisingly penalised.
The kickable penalty was missed, which was to prove crucial by the end of the game. Dan Binks, who had a storming game, then stole the ball from a Loughor maul but the attack was repelled and the score stayed at 14 – 14 at half time.
The feeling was that Aber, after a very good opening period, had become sloppy and ill-disciplined in giving away far too many penalties and that Loughor had grabbed the initiative. Aber had to play with more purpose and discipline if they were to prevail.
Aber’s scrum in the second half got stronger and stronger with front row Matt Roberts, Carwyn Thomas and newcomer Kevin Jones well to the fore.
They took the ball against the head on a number of occasions and from one Loughor scrum, under intense pressure, the ball popped out and the ever alert Paul Stubbs pounced on it to score his second try. This went unconverted to make the score 19 – 14.
Loughor, to their credit, came back strongly and after a series of disciplined drives by the forwards, the ball was released to the backs and their right winger scored in the corner.
The try was magnificently converted from the touch-line by scrum half Davies to give Loughor a narrow two point lead.
Aber responded positively to this set back and took the game to Loughor, who were penalised for not rolling away from the tackle area 8m inside their own half. Up stepped Llyr Thomas, who coolly slotted a magnificent penalty to effectively win the game for Aber 22-21.
For the next period of the game, Aber penned Loughor in their half with some probing kicks deep into the Loughor half.
They had numerous attacks trying to secure a four try bonus point but these were dealt with efficiently by the Loughor defence and indeed came back strongly themselves and Aber had to defend heroically to win the game.
Bryn Shepherd deservedly won the Man of the Match award for his willingness to support runners and his appetite for carrying the ball in attack.
Swans grab last gasp play-off spot
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Glamorgan launch new kit
GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.
Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.
Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.
The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.
The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.
Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.
“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.
“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”
Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’
Wembley trip for Giggs’ men
CYMRU will travel to Wembley Stadium on Thursday 8 October for a home nations international against England.
Ryan Giggs’ side will return to action this autumn for the first time in 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kicking off with the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League campaign. The match against England will be one of two additional international matches scheduled as triple headers in October and November. In keeping with current Government guidelines, this fixture is scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors.
Since their first encounter in 1879, England are Cymru’s second oldest opponents with 102 matches in total producing 14 wins, 21 draws and 67 defeats. Cymru’s last visit to Wembley Stadium was in 2011 for a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier, with Ashley Cole scoring in a 1-0 defeat.
Ryan Giggs’ side will be using this match to prepare for the rescheduled EURO 2020 finals next summer where they hope to return to Wembley, one of the host stadiums, for the latter stages of the tournament.
Looking ahead to the autumn, Cymru are in Nations League Group B4 alongside Bulgaria, Finland and the Republic of Ireland with fixture dates as follows:
Thursday, 3 September – Finland v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 6 September – Cymru v Bulgaria (2:00pm)
Sunday, 11 October – Republic of Ireland v Cymru (2:00pm)
Wednesday, 14 October – Bulgaria v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 15 November – Cymru v Republic of Ireland (5:00pm)
Wednesday, 18 November – Cymru v Finland (7:45pm)
All fixtures are scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors for the foreseeable future.
The FAW will continue to adhere to relevant Government guidelines and supporters will be notified should arrangements change and tickets become available.
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