Abergavenny welcomed Ynysddu for the final league game of the season on Saturday, reports COLIN EVANS.
Having come second best in the away fixture earlier this month, a comprehensive victory over their rivals for second place was a fitting way to end the season.
Abergavenny selected Connor Davies, Ryan Morgan, Matt Charles, Will Evans, Jordan Curran, Aaron Scrimgeour, Ben Main and Alex Howes in the forwards, and Rhys Ferguson, Rhodri Webster, Ieuan T Evans, Rhys Jones, Ieuan J Evans, Anthony Squire and Nathan Williams in the backs.
The challenge Ynysddu would pose soon became apparent as Jason Tovey imposed himself on the game, kicking into space and creating the opening try for his team, giving them a 7-0 lead.
But from this point the Aber forwards began to dominate at scrum time, gaining good possession on the front foot while Ynysddu were always under pressure in retreat.
The hosts had a long period of pressure in the visitors’ 22 and after finally Curran was driven over the line by Will Evans for their first try.
Powerful carries from Main and Scrimgeour brought Abergavenny down into the Ynysddu 22 again, and from a scrum 20 yards out Howes picked up, found Ferguson who hit a gap and ran through for a second try, converted by Williams.
Lineout had been a priority in training this week, and the improvement was noticeable as clean possession was won regularly. From a touch on halfway, clean ball was distributed into midfield, Squire ran a line between the two centres, bisected their defence and ran around the fullback to score under the posts, converted by Williams for a 19-7 half-time lead.
With Bailey Park looking its picturesque best, bathed in sunshine with a country fair taking place on the old lido and a sizeable rugby crowd, the scene was set for the second half.
Ynysddu forced errors in the Aber back line, and from the turnover possession, they attacked into the corner and were awarded a penalty try closing the score to 19-14.
The game was in the balance, but the forwards continued to provide clean ball on the front foot, enabling Webster to dictate play behind, with Ieuan T Evans stepping inside his opponent to run in for a fourth try.
Callum Poole, Liam Newton and Dan Haymond were introduced and now the hosts looked in control. The forwards carried strongly and gained position near the Ynysddu line, and Scrimgeour was able to drive over for a try extending the lead to 29-14.
Ynysddu kept going and were rewarded with a try closing the gap to ten points once again.
Ollie Stansfield and Nathan Harris entered the fray as Webster left the field to a standing ovation having decided to retire from playing after a long and distinguished career.
With tired legs all around the park, Williams playing in his favoured centre position sliced through the defense twice to close the game out with a very convincing scoreline of 43-19, ensuring Abergavenny a second-place finish in the league.
After a very successful season, gaining promotion to Division One, the club are sad that Nathan Thomas and Simon Williams are standing down as club coaches.
They have been with the club for six seasons and have transformed the senior teams’ fortunes, guiding them to the WRU Bowl in Cardiff in 2019 and taking them from league Three in 2017 to League One.
A club spokesperson said: “They leave with sincere thanks from the whole club for their dedication and professionalism during this remarkable period in the club’s history.”