ABERYSTWYTH bowed out of the Swalec Plate with a 3-11 defeat to Bonymaen in what is thought to be the first meeting between these sides at Plascrug.
Cambrian News reported “On a bright, sunny but cold day, with very little wind, it was the visitors who triumphed at Plascrug and they will now go through to round three of the Plate.
The two sides were very evenly matched in the first half. Both were tenacious in defence and determined in attack, but neither gained any meaningful penetration. The visitors had superior territorial advantage and around 75 per cent of the possession, but failed to register any points as the first half drew to a close.
Then, with only a minute or so of the half left, front row forward Owain Bonsall was penalised and left the field after being yellow-carded. Bonymaen kicked the penalty to touch and, after a catch and drive from the resulting five-metre lineout, second row Jack Davies touched down to register the first points of the match right on the stroke of half-time. The conversion kick failed but the visitors were 0-5 ahead at half-time.
Fourteen-man Aber started the second half strongly, and a fine kick ahead by No 10 Steff Rees was very well followed up by centre Carwyn Evans and winger Jack Rees. But Bonymaen were quickly back in defence and stole the ball after Aber had set up a good attacking position.
Spilling the ball and giving up possession too easily was an unfortunate aspect of Aber’s game, and it cost them dearly.
The hosts registered their first, and only points of the game when Steff Rees put over an excellent penalty kick from 45 metres to close the gap to 3-5 on the hour.
Aber now played their best rugby of the game as they won more possession and made better use of the ball. Carwyn Evans, his co-centre Steff Rees and full-back Matthew Hughes made breaks but none came to anything as they were either snuffed out by Bonymaen’s cover or the carriers just ran out of support.
Aber continued to launch attacks, but too often the ball was spilled or possession was turned over at the rucks by the visitors’ mobile forwards. Towards the end of the game Bonymaen were awarded a penalty which full-back Moore duly converted to extend their lead to 3-8.
Aber did not give up and a break by Carwyn Evans carried on by scrum half Griff Jones took play into the Bonymaen 22m area; but yet another spilled pass gave away possession and the visitors counter-attacked to get within 5 metres of the Aber line. Desperate tackling by the hosts kept their line intact, but when the ball was passed back to Bonymaen’s outside half Lawrence Thomas, he made the game safe for his side with a well taken drop goal to close the score at 3-11.
In the early part of this match the hosts’ pack had the upper hand in the scrums, but Bonymaen improved as it went on. Aber’s lineout play, on the other hand, was disappointing. The visitors won their own ball without much difficulty and a fair share of Aber’s throw-ins too.
Bonymaen’s open side flanker, Kelly, their main jumper, was allowed plenty of scope through the host’s apparent tactic of not competing on the opposition’s throw-in. Only Bryn Shepherd consistently won good, clean lineout ball for Aber.
Aber, however, cannot be faulted for their courage and commitment in this contest. Every player made a valiant effort in defence and they restricted a side currently sitting at the top of Division One West Central, to just one try.
Three factors contributed to the home defeat; the first was unforced handling errors; the second, allowing the opposition to steal the ball too easily; and finally, their weak performance in the lineout. Aber’s forwards have outplayed taller opposition in the lineout this season, but on Saturday they let themselves down.
On a brighter note, Aberystwyth’s Youth and Junior XVs have enjoyed some notable successes in the past two weeks. Aberyswyth’s Youth team beat Aberaeron Youth 29-0 and, in a double-header event away at Dolgellau, Aber’s Under 14s beat Bro Ffestiniog 51-0 and they then went on to beat the hosts 25-22″ here.