ABERYSTWYTH came away from Llangennech with a bonus point, but it was the hosts who registered a hard-earned 33-28 win in Division One West last weekend.
The Cambrian News reported “Despite recent wet weather, ground conditions for the match were near-perfect and it was clear from the start both sides wanted to play open, running rugby.
Aber were forced to make a number of changes in selection due to injuries, and further casualties during the game caused even more disruption to the visiting team.
Up front, Llangennech showed technical superiority in the scrums with their low, tightly bound pack and well-timed shoves disrupting Aber’s eight. Honours were more even in the line-outs, where jumpers Lloyd, Parry and Binks did well.
In the backs, the home side were a constant threat with some slick, well-timed passing and tackling that matched everything the visitors’ backs had to offer.
Aber were the first on the scoresheet after an excellent line break from Paul Stubbs. He offloaded to Arwel Lloyd, who stormed upfield for over 30 metres to within a yard or so of the line. When he was stopped, Lee ‘Truck’ Evans was on hand to take a scoring pass under the posts. Llyr Thomas added the conversion and Aber were 7-0 up after 10 minutes.
Lock Lloyd, who had started the game very impressively, then suffered a dead leg and was replaced by Bryn Shepherd.
Llangennech forced their way downfield and into the visitors’ 22 metre area where, after their pack had driven Aber’s eight back at a scrum, No 9 Tom Neale crossed over and fly-half Josh Hammett converted to bring the scores level at 7-7.
The visitors hit back and forced their way into the home half, and when Llangennech were penalised for not releasing, Llyr Thomas made no mistake with his penalty kick to regain the lead at 7-10.
Then, after a poor feed from a lineout, Aber were driven back to defend their line and were penalised after the home side’s scrum had again put in a huge push. Hammett levelled the scores at 10-10.
Then the visitors again regained the lead through Llyr Thomas, who made the 40 metre penalty kick look easy, for 10-13.
Carwyn Thomas, normally a hooker, replaced Rhys Evans at prop and scrummages were uncontested from that point. This was to Aber’s advantage as it cancelled out home superiority in that area.
Llangennech took the lead for the first time with a try wide out from full-back Tom Barnes following up a clever grubber kick. They seemed to recognise that spreading the ball wide would serve them better than trying to break through the middle where Aber’s defence was excellent. It was left to Llyr Thomas, with another 40 metre kick, to enable Aber to gain a slender 15-16 advantage at half time.
Thomas added another penalty early in the second half to extend the lead to 15-19.
Llangennech responded with a second try wide out from full-back Tom Barnes, converted by Hammett to take the home side to 22-19, but another Llyr Thomas penalty for the visitors levelled the scores.
Llangennech drove back upfield and after a series of rucks Tom Neale scored wide out, again exposing a lack of width in defence. The conversion failed, but the home side were back in the lead at 27-22.
Thomas and Hammett then exchanged penalty kicks to take the score to 30-25 and Hammett closed the home side’s scoring with another penalty for a 33-25 lead.
A final penalty from Thomas secured a losing bonus point and a score of 33-28.
This was probably the fittest, most skilled and best drilled opposition Aber have faced all season and the try count of four to one reflects this. But that also disguises the fine performances of some of the visitors’ players and replacements.
Lee ‘Truck’ Evans and Paul Stubbs were very prominent in all phases of the game.
The lineout competed very effectively, and all eight forwards were very competitive in the loose. Behind the scrum, Ifan Thomas put in some good clearance kicks and centres Carwyn and Tom Evans showed up well in defence and in attack as did Steffan Rees out on the wing.
But it was the boot of Llyr Thomas who kept Aber in this game. With an immense contribution of 23 points, for the second consecutive week he achieved a 100 per cent success with his place kicking.
More kicking out of hand for the corners and playing more of the game in the opposition half would have put Aber in better attacking positions, but they did well to come away with a bonus point and retain fifth position in Division One West” here.