ABERYSTWYTH RFC’s 26-19 home win over Llangennech in this, their final league game of the season, took them to fourth position in Division One West, their highest placing yet.
The Cambrian News reported “Their fine achievement, however, was marred by a serious leg fracture to their No 8 and captain, Lee ‘Truck’ Evans in what was a sad end to what has been a very successful season for him as captain.
The injury is likely to keep him out of the game for several months at least.
On an afternoon better suited to cricket, Aber played some very attractive rugby against a plucky and persistent Llangennech side, scoring four tries to gain maximum bonus points for their efforts.
The first 10 minutes saw Aber put the pressure on and retain the lion’s share of possession. The home side’s scrum was solid and more powerful than the Llangennech eight, and it was from a drive at a set piece that No 8 Lee ‘Truck’ picked up the ball and burst fully 40 metres straight downfield, only to be tackled from behind, one or two metres short of the line. It was in falling backwards in this tackle that his leg was broken.
Play was held up for over 30 minutes, but on resumption Aber reapplied the pressure and a huge shove at a five metre scrum drove the opposition back over their own line for Dan Binks to score the opening try. This was converted by Steffan Rees, and Aber were 7-0 ahead.
Aber were gaining superiority in both scrums and lineouts now and varied their use of possession. Scrum half Ifan Thomas put in a towering kick from the base of a ruck on the half way line which was chased by Matthew Hughes from full-back. Showing an impressive turn of speed he outstripped the visitors’ defence to score a lovely try. This was very well converted again by Steffan Rees, and at half time Aber were 14- 0 ahead.
The home side started the second half in the same confident and adventurous vein. Matthew Hughes scored another well-taken try and Rees again added the conversion to put them 21-0 in the lead.
Dan Binks in particular was stealing a lot of Llangennech’s lineout ball and, with Aber’s other jumpers, secured their own ball. In the scrums, the home side continued to dominate, but it was in open play that Aber’s problems lay at this stage. They had most of the possession, but handling errors were creeping into their play, as was a lack of concentration.
Llangennech exploited this slackness and hit back. Aber won a scrum five metres from their own line but a poor clearance kick was charged down and flanker Morgan Phillips was on hand to touch down. Outside half Josh Hammett added the conversion and the visitors were on the scoreboard for the first time at 21-7.
This gave the visitors all the encouragement they needed and they pressed even harder. Led very well by old hand Richard Thomas, they came back strongly.
With close inter-passing by their forwards and flowing movements across the field by their backs, they started to run at Aber from defence and looked threatening. The hosts on the other hand were giving away penalties and kicking away possession to enable Llangennech to mount these attacks.
It was from such a move, taking advantage of Aber’s lack of width, that they advanced down their right wing and, after good carrying, offloading and support, centre Gethin Long went over in the corner for an unconverted try, and closed the gap to 21-12.
Poor tackling by the hosts allowed Long through for another try a few minutes later. Converted by Hammett, at 21-19 things looked very ominous for Aber.
Fortunately they pulled themselves together for one last effort. They failed to win clean possession at a lineout near the Llangennech line and the chance looked as though it had gone. But Paul Stubbs, alert as ever, was on hand to collect the loose ball and dive over for the bonus point try on the stroke of eighty minutes to take the closing scoreline to 26-19.
Apart from man-of-the-match Matthew Hughes, there were great performances by forwards Arwel Lloyd, Dan Binks, Paul Stubbs and Tom ‘Kenco’ Evans.
Aber have recovered very well indeed from a mid-season dip in form and have earned their fourth place through their performances in the last six games or so.
Their last game of the season will be against Pembroke in the final of the Pembrokeshire Cup, to be played at St Davids on Wednesday, 23 May, ko 6.45pm.
A supporters’ bus will be leaving the Plascrug clubhouse at 3.30pm” here.