SEVEN weeks earlier Aberystwyth had won their home game comfortably against Llanelli Wanderers by 40 points to 17, but the hosts were more aggressive and skilful in this game and deserved their 32-24 win in the rematch.
Cambrian News reported “With much the same team, the Wanderers put on a vastly improved performance, especially up front, to come through for the win in perfect playing conditions.
Aber kicked off playing downhill into a breezy wind and for the first 10 minutes had hardly any possession at all as the hosts purposefully went on the attack.
The visitors defended desperately, but gave away a penalty at a ruck, which centre Rhydian Morgan converted for a 3-0 lead. Aber then hit back as a good solo break by Daniel Harvard took him to within metres of the posts, but he had no one up in close support and a good scoring opportunity was duly lost.
Steffan Rees then drew Aber level with a penalty, but the Wanderers hit back as they launched a succession of attacks. Their forwards rucked strongly and their backs passed more fluently and looked more dangerous than Aber as they seemed more prepared to spread the ball wide.
It was from a ruck followed by a flowing move by their threequarters that the hosts scored their first try. Winger Jordan Evans went over wide out and Morgan added the conversion to put them into a 10-3 lead at the half time break.
In the second half Aber came more and more into the game, but overdid the attacking tactics of taking on their opponents close to the rucks. The hosts dealt with this very efficiently.
It was when the visitors fed the ball out to use the attacking strengths of players such as Matthew Hughes and Rhodri Richards that they looked threatening. Hughes in particular made good use of the ball whenever he had it, and it was from his break that Aber scored their first try.
Breaking through tackles he found Harvard well up in support to take his offload to go over at the posts. This gave Rees an easy conversion to draw Aber level.
Wanderers wasted no time in regaining the lead. From a lineout 20 metres out they launched a powerful driving maul which Aber’s forwards could not deal with. Open side flanker Sianco Morgan touched down and Rhydian Morgan converted to take the score to 17-10.
For the following 10 minutes or so play took place between the two 22 metre lines and both sides competed hard for possession.
An Aber forward was penalised for not rolling away and the hosts increased their advantage to 20-10.
The visitors hit back again when winger Ben Jones made ground on the left wing; he fed Gruff Jones who offloaded to Matthew Hughes for a very well worked try. Rees converted to bring Aber up to 20-17.
A long kick downfield then put the hosts in a strong attacking position. They were awarded a scrum five metres from Aber’s try line and with a strong, concerted shove, demolished the visitors’ eight to earn themselves a penalty.
Opting for another scrum, they did the same a second time and Aber were very fortunate not to give away a penalty try. At the third scrum the Aber pack remained intact but were pushed back over their line for the Wanderers’ No 8 Elgan Morgan to score and increase their lead to 25-17.
With only a few minutes of the game remaining, Aberystwyth hit back and went close to scoring on two occasions but dropped passes let them down.
They continued to keep play in the Wanderers 22m area and after attacking on the blind side, Owain Bonsall forced his way over. Steffan Rees kicked an excellent conversion to get the visiting side to within one point of their hosts at 25-24.
Then, with only a minute or so of the game remaining, and with a losing bonus point in the bag, Aber showed very poor game management and decision making when, instead of putting in a relieving clearance kick, they decided to run the Wanderers’ kick-off back at them. As the visitors tried desperately to control play they dropped the ball.
Wanderers substitute Jim Kaumaitotoya pounced and ran unopposed to score under the posts for Morgan to convert and seal victory.
This is a performance Aber will need to learn from. Their scrummaging was not up to its usual standard and their pack was outplayed and given a torrid time in this department. Their attack was predictable and they tended to ignore their strengths outside.
Possession was lost too easily and Wanderers won most 50/50 loose balls as they competed more fiercely and seemed to want the win more than Aber did.
Dan Binks made a welcome return for Aber and, along with Daniel Harvard and Owain Bonsall, was the pick of Aber’s forwards.
At the back, Matthew Hughes and Rhodri Richards were a constant threat but saw too little of the ball. But apart from one or two lapses of concentration, Aber’s defence was solid.
Aberystwyth will hope to make a positive response when they host Yr Hendy at Plascrug on Saturday” here.