Aberystwyth (17) 24 Tenby United (3) 10
Tenby Tourers sponsored Tenby United travelled north to play an Aberystwyth side sitting two places below them in the league and having been convincingly beaten 33-7 in their clash down at Heywood Lane back in September. Surprisingly this is the first time since season 2005/6, when both sides were in Division 3 West, that they have faced each other in a league match as there have been more recent clashes, but all in the Pembrokeshire Cup, with the Seasiders coming out convincingly on top in all four encounters, the most recent one being last years final up at Crymych. Ironically both sides meet up at Aberystwyth in this years semi final on a date yet to be agreed, so this match could be used as a pointer to that result maybe.
Trying to add to their run of five wins on the bounce Tenby were forced to make four changes from their splendid 15-9 victory against title contenders Gowerton last week with Pat Roberts, Oliver Wingfield, Rob Clarke and skipper Luke Hansford unavailable through injury or work commitments….. with Moritz Neumann, Charlie Patching and stalwarts Wyndham Williams (playing his 190th game for the red and blacks) and Thomas Turbo Lewis, playing his 123rd game, slotting in. On the home side there were eight new faces compared to the squad that came down to Heywood Lane in the summer with two props “permitted” into the front row, which, as the game developed, became the critical difference between the two sides.
Kicking off in what surprisingly, after the heavy rain experienced on the journey north, turned out to be ideal playing conditions – with no wind or rain – with the game being played on the nearby Vicarage Fields, a University pitch, as their home pitch at Plascrug was deemed unplayable, Aber were quick to let Tenby know that they were “up for it” as they tore into Tenby both in attack as well as defence, with Tenby still recovering from the long haul up north. A series of high kick and chases were the order of the first few minutes with Aber coming out on top, despite positive contributions from the Morgan brothers, Yanick Parker, Roy Osborn and Moritz Neumann. The stalemate was broken as Aber stretched the Tenby defence to breaking point as fullback Matthew Hughes came into the line as the extra man and went over wide out giving the home side a deserved and early 5-0 lead.
The high kick and chase became the favoured attacking option for the home side and with number eight Roy Osborn spilling the ball trying to secure it they were presented with another attacking option from the scrum awarded by referee Evans. Aber had Tenby in all sorts of trouble at scrum time with any Tenby put in being nullified with a tremendous and concerted shove that either sent the Tenby eight shunting backwards at a great rate of knots or the front row taking off and doing an impression of Biggles flying high or simply being unable to handle the pressure collapsed in a heap on the heavy pitch. On their put in, the drive exerted by the second row presented number eight and captain Lee Evans with a platform to either retain the ball at his feet, while his fellow forwards maintained the shove and gained yards, or for him to pick-up from the base and make even more yards as the Tenby back row were still packing down in an attempt to stop the backward slide. Urged on by their coach, this pressure at scrum time was an obvious massive bonus for them and they were encouraged to maintain the pressure at all times while his counterparts in the Tenby camp must have dreaded each time referee Evans blew for a scrum, irrespective who’s put in it was.
Gaining the ball from one scrum, the home side slickly went into attack mode spreading the ball quickly out to the wing but a superb covering tackle close to the corner flag from Moritz Neumann saved a certain try. Undeterred by this missed opportunity Aber maintained the pressure with the short side being favoured for attack after attack and inevitably Tenby simply ran out of defenders on the third attempt to exploit this move and Lee Evans cantered over for try number two slicing through a non existence defence and a comfortable 10-0 lead.
Not helping what was rapidly becoming a desperate situation, Jonny Morgan’s restart went out on the full and from their dominant scrum Aber won the ball which fly half Llyr Thomas booted to deep in the 22 for a lineout, with Tenby very much on the back foot. From villain to hero Jonny made amends when he charged down an attempted kick and with superb footballing skills took the ball over the try line only to be deemed by referee Evans to have knocked the ball on as he tried to ground the ball. Surviving that scare, Aber clawed their way back deep into the Tenby 22 and from a series of scrums, each of which earned the home side a penalty, which they decided sensibly to scrum down again, the inevitable outcome resulted in a penalty try extending the lead out to 17-0 with half time approaching.
In the minutes that remained of the first half Tenby suddenly went into attack mode, the first real time they had achieved this all afternoon, and from a quick tap and go at a penalty, Matthew Morgan launched his fellow team mates with Andrew Cooke, Jack Clancy and Moritz Neumann all involved with the threatening move being stopped by another Aber infringement which brought a stern warning to the offender and skipper Lee Evans from referee Evans and from the penalty awarded Craig Barnett slotted over his kick, ending the half with Tenby trailing 17-3. Aber fully deserved their lead mainly through their dominant scrum, also through the pack by their aggressive rucking generating quick ball which allowed outside-half Llyr Thomas to vary his options intelligently and keep them on the front foot throughout a dominant first-half display.
Keeping up the high ball barrage, Aber were immediately rewarded at the start of the second half when it was Moritz Neumann’s turn to misfiled and Tenby were again on the back foot and despite winning ball from lineout’s through Mike Davis, Jack Clancy, Barry Parsons, Roy Osborn and Luke Dedman (on for Andrew Cooke) they didn’t really threaten the defence of an Aber side that were playing with confidence, a key ingredient Tenby seemed to have left on the coach that brought them to the game. Aber were obviously intent on gaining their fourth try and the associated bonus point and from
one well orchestrated attack created an overlap with flanker Tom Evans passing to wing Ian Ellis to cross wide out, for Llyr Thomas to increase by two points with his first successful kick of the afternoon extending the lead to 24-3 and presenting the home side with the extra league point they wanted.
The mistake after mistake afternoon for Tenby continued with forward passes, dropped passes and wild attempts at off loading/passing skimming off the ground as they desperately tried to get their act together but with the scrum still under pressure referee Evans eventually had seen enough, with another series of collapsed scrums, he ordered prop Rob Luly to go and sit on the naughty step for 10 mins. To cover the scrum as Aber decided to take at the awarded penalty, Wyndham Williams joined the team with flanker Barry Parsons being taken off to allow the prop replacement to take place and centre Jack Guerreiro packed down on the side of the scrum. Playing against a 14 man opposition was the trigger Aber needed to up the pace but defensively Tenby have been tested over the last few weeks and thankfully this was one aspect of their game they correctly put into practice with some solid tackles being put in to prevent Aber from increasing their lead. They were presented with an opportunity to get away from defence duties when awarded a penalty but Jonny Morgan saw his kick missing touch and Tenby were fortunate that the return kick from full back Hughes went straight into touch so they got given the advantage back near the Aber 22. From this situation Tenby mounted an attack with forwards and backs involved ending eventually with referee Justin Evans awarding a try credited to Jack Clancy from amongst the pile of bodies that had collapsed around the ball on the Aber line. With Craig Barnett adding the extras the score was now a more respectable 24-10.
In an attempt to maintain the newly found momentum the coaches wheeled on a raft of replacements with forwards Joe Poole and Charlie Patching coming on and veteran Tom Turbo Lewis replacing Jack Guerreiro while at the same time Barry Parsons returned with Rob Luly staying on the sidelines. Tenby attempted to put all the fresh legs into action with one or two excursions into the Aber try line area with Luke Dedman, Jack Guerreiro and Jonny Morgan prominent but their enterprise came to nothing as referee Evans blew for time and Tenby trouped off suffering their first defeat since November 4th.
It wasn’t losing that must have hurt the Tenby team and coaches, but the way they lost. The source of all the problems was undoubtedly the scrum, which basically didn’t, or wasn’t allowed to, function at all for the duration of the match and without this usually solid attacking base they were deprived of a platform to launch any threatening moves. Added to this both hookers had problems at lineout time with not straight being pinged by referee Evans throughout the match which considering the total lack of any wind, which is the usual cause of such infringements, was another mystery. These, along with an uncharacteristically lethargic display by the backs, ended with a totally lack lustre display which will need addressing during training sessions this week or the away game against high flying Felinfoel tomorrow (Saturday) will be another demanding test.
Coach Cone simply put it down to a bad day at the office with lessons to be learned and addressed. He went on to add that the two tries left out there on the pitch could have made an enormous difference to the performance, but agreed that on the day we were well beaten.
A totally different situation from the previous week when selecting a man of the match was difficult, as all 22 would have been in with a shout, while this week it would have been difficult to even select one player who might qualify – what a difference in just seven days.
Tenby Tries: Jack Clancy
Conversion: Craig Barnett
Penalties: Craig Barnett
Aberystwyth Tries: Matthew Hughes, Lee Evans, penalty try, Ian Ellis
Conversions: Llyr Thomas x 2
Tenby: – Craig Barnett, Moritz Neumann, Yanik Parker, Jack Guerreiro, Jordan Asparassa, Jonny Morgan, Matthew Morgan, Rob Luly, Kyle Hamer, Ethan Morgan, Mike Davis, Jack Clancy, Barry Parsons, Andrew Cooke, Roy Osborn
Reps: Joe Poole, Wyndham Williams, Luke Dedman, Charlie Patching, Tom Turbo Lewis
Aberystwyth:- Matthew Hughes, Ian Ellis, Cawyn Evans, Steff Rees, Gwern Penri, Llyr Thomas, Ifan Thomas, Oisin Carney, Carwyn Thomas, Geraint Rowlands, Arwel Lloyd, Robbie Parry, Bryn Shepherd, Lee Evans ©, Tom Evans
Reps: Owain Bonsall, Paul Stubbs, Daniel Binks, Rhys Owen, Stefan Rees