Buoyed by recent improved performances, the prospect of three consecutive weekends of league rugby for the first time this season, and the challenge of reaching the upper echelons of the table, a strong Aberaeron team made the journey to Bynea RFC writes Dan Downes. Despite the inclement weather in the preceding days, Bynea provided a faultless playing surface, which would be the envy of Premiership teams- begging the question why this fixture was postponed at the last minute in December.
In dry, conditions, with a slight breeze, Aberaeron took the driving seat from the off, gathering possession from their kick off, and earning a penalty within the first minute. However, the three points went adrift from the penalty attempt- the only blemish in an otherwise metronomic kicking appearance from Rhodri Jenkins at stand off.
It didn’t take long for the Aberaeron pack to build a stranglehold on the match, and the first try of the day was soon to follow. An efficient lineout driving maul, developed into a number of phases of continued pressure, with flanker Sean Stephens claiming the five points- his first for the club, duly converted by Jenkins.
Bynea’s first try of the match came somewhat fortuitously from the back of a scrummage, just inside the Aberaeron 22. Despite continued pressure from the Aberaeron front row, and a scrum won against the head, loose ball allowed the Bynea number eight to regather, and score under the posts. A successful conversion, and a preceding successful penalty saw the score swing to 10-7.
Aberaeron’s second try came again as a result of forward pressure, with flanker Aaron Lewis topping a fine individual performance with ball in hand- reinforcing his position at the top of the try scoring table in Aberaeron this season.
Continued persistence from the Aberaeron pack, saw a further try notched up before the oranges, with effervescent hooker Connor McCaffrey claiming the spoils, sparked from an opportunistic break by scrum half Gareth James. The successful conversion saw the lead swing back in Aberaeron’s favour 10-21 heading into half time- the result put realistically beyond the host’s reach by the changeover.
The second half saw a period of stalemate, with continued infringements from the Bynea pack at the breakdown, frustrating Aberaeron’s possession. Despite dominating possession and territory, Aberaeron on a number of occasions were unable to convert to points, with a reluctance to penalise shown from the man in the middle.
With continued pressure from the Aeron front row, the game shifted to the ever predictable uncontested scrum for the final 20 minutes. With the outcome never in doubt, Aberaeron successfully used the fixture to develop the match experience of a number of partnerships across the field. The ever-reliable defence of Ollie Sawyer partnered well with the ball carrying ability of Lewis Donnelly in midfield, whilst the young half back pairing of James and Jenkins continue to grow in confidence with each match. The eventual score line of 15-21 on the day flattered the hosts to some degree, with the visitors happy to claim the win, but disappointed the score line wasn’t stretched.
With just four league outings remaining for this term, there’s no doubt the coaching team in Aberaeron will be taking some heart in the way confidence is growing within the squad. The club no doubt will have their sights set on a strong finish, when they welcome Pontyates to Parc Drefach on February 18th- and the promise of yet another league re-structure for the 2017-18 season providing more consistent fixtures.