Abergavenny welcomed neighbours Blaenavon to Bailey Park on Saturday, but it was the visitors who returned home with bragging rights after a hard-fought derby contest, reports COLIN EVANS.  

The Aber starting XV consisted of Matt Hancock, Liam Newton, Connor Davies, Callum Poole, Will Evans, Rhys Dawe, Nathan Byrne, Alex Howes, Rhob Connick, Rob Lewis, Ieuan Evans, Rhys Jones, James Lewis, Anthony Squire and Nathan Williams. 

The hosts began the game brightly, moving the ball around the field, and this was rewarded when Williams took a high ball, ran into open space, linked up with Squire and James Lewis before receiving the ball back to score the opening try. 

Blaenavon, with a bigger and more powerful pack then had a period of pressure in the Abergavenny half, putting the hosts’ scrum under considerable pressure.

And this was rewarded with a pushover try to level the scores at 5-5. 

It quickly became apparent that Aber’s best chance in this game would be to play an open game, which was justified after several phases of play when Ieuan Evans went over in the corner for the home side’s second try. 

When Jones slotted a penalty soon afterwards Abergavenny looked comfortable at 13-5 up. 

But Blaenavon then drew them into an arm wrestle from which there was only going to be one winner, as a penalty kick closed the score to 13-8 going into half-time. 

The second half began with Dawid Rubasniak and Lloyd Holder introduced into the game. 

Abergavenny had sorted out their scrum problems, but continued to struggle in the lineout. 

And a turning point was when the hosts received two yellow cards, with the visitors taking full advantage to pressurise the home team and score a converted try to take the lead 15-13. 

With Aber back up to 15 players they began to get a foothold back into the game, and a penalty kick from distance by Williams gave the hosts a 16-15 lead going into the final quarter.

Opportunities came and went for both sides until the final play, when an Abergavenny 22 dropout was kicked short, the high ball ricocheted off a home hand to a grateful Blaenavon player who had a clear run in to score the winning try to the delight of their supporters, with the final score 20-16.