It was Friday night action at Bailey Park last weekend when Abergavenny welcomed Pontypool United in the quarter-final of the Gwent Youth Cup, reports COLIN EVANS.
The Abergavenny Youth team consisted of Barney Thomas-Hewartson, Oscar Greenland, Will Phillips (capt), Seren Strong-Wright, Evan Jones, Harri Judd, Sam Wooley, Ben Main, Owen Phillips, Evan Wyatt, Joe Brook, Finley Robertson, Geng Tinanop, Tom Boshoff and Joe Hynes.
An expectant crowd had gathered for what promised to be a mouth-watering encounter and it didn’t disappoint.
Pontypool showed their intent from the start attacking Abergavenny using the full width of the field, and a well-weighted kick into the corner pressurised the home defence resulting in the opening try of the game.
From the restart, Abergavenny picked up the tempo, driving up midfield with their ball carriers Ben Main and Barney Thomas-Hewartson.
And after several phases of play Main received the ball and drove through the United defence for Abergavenny’s first try converted by Evan Wyatt for a 7-5 lead.
This score gave the hosts confidence and they began to play an expansive game using their elusive runners to test the Pontypool defence.
From a lineout in the corner Will Phillips got over the gain line before offloading to Harri Judd who scored Abergavenny’s second try to make it 12-5.
The home side now had the upper hand and continued to press deep in their half, but organised defence prevented Aber from adding to their score before half-time.
The second half began with Pontypool determined to get themselves back into the game, but every attack met strong tackling which prevented them getting over the gain line.
The penalty count against United began to mount and the referee soon had to issue two yellow cards for persistent infringements.
A lineout on the five-yard line was well won by Sam Wooley, which was driven over the try line with Oscar Greenland touching down for the try to stretch the lead to 17-5.
Abergavenny now had the game under control and should have put the result out of sight.
But instead they became a little complacent and allowed Pontypool back into the game.
United began to gain good possession and territory and put together a flowing three-quarter move resulting in their winger scoring a well taken try in the corner.
The conversion made the score line 17-12 to Abergavenny.
And with the result now on the line there was a nervousness amongst the home supporters, as Pontypool pressed for another score.
But the home side defended heroically when a Pontypool score looked inevitable.
And despite a yellow card and then another for technical infringements, their trademark tackling, determination and team spirit kept their tryline intact until the final whistle, which was greeted with joyous celebrations by players and coaches alike.
* Upcoming fixtures at Abergavenny RFC include – April 2 away to Ynysddu, April 9 home to Talywain, April 30 away to Newport High School Old Boys. April 27 also sees Aber Quins v Blackwood 2nds at Risca in the 2uper2nds Cup semi-final.
Local senior fixtures this Saturday (March 26) include – Brynmawr v Pontypool United, Crickhowell v Beaufort, Cwmcarn United v Forgeside, Monmouth v Penallta, Abertillery BG v Usk, Chepstow v Hafodyrynys.