Ben Francis Cup
Report by Colin Evans
Abergavenny entertained Blaenavon in the first round of the Ben Francis Cup on Wednesday evening, November 10.
The home team consisted of Matt Charles, Ryan Morgan, Tom Powell, Jordan Curran, Will Evans, Alan Chesworth-Rickards, Morgan King, Alex Howes, Rob Connick, Rob Lewis, Lloyd Holder, James Lewis, Nathan Bryne, Anthony Squire and Rhys Jones.
Bleanavon began the game in determined fashion resulting in Abergavenny having to do a lot of tackling in the first few minutes, but they soon got a foothold in the game, pushing the visitors back into their own 22 for long periods.
The first score came when a clearing kick from Bleanavon was well taken by Rhys Jones on halfway, who found Anthony Squire who beat his man on the outside,showed his pace down the touchline before scoring in the corner, with the try well converted by Rhys Jones.
The scoring opportunities continued for Abergavenny, but basic errors at the last moment scuppered many scoring opportunities until a penalty near the post was converted, giving the home side a 10-0 lead.
After dominating the game for 30 minutes Abergavenny found themselves on the back foot. From a lineout in the 22 Blaenavon drove over the try line to open their scoring resulting in a half-time score of 10- 5 to Abergavenny.
The second half began as a much more even contest as Blaenavon realised they were very much in this game.
A penalty stretched Abergavenny’s lead before Bleanavon’s powerful forwards forced their way over from close range to make it a one point game at 13-12.
Harvey Blowfield was introduced into the fray to add some impetus into the home side’s efforts.
And from a penalty Rhys Jones found good field position, with a clean lineout ball spread the full width of the field to gove Rhys Jones a walk-in to score Abergavenny’s second try, extending the lead to 18-12.
The final quarter of the game was a very tense affair with Bleanavon’s 10 and 15 showing their quality putting the home side under pressure.
A loose clearing kick by Abergavenny found its way to the visitors’ winger who stepped his man and cut inside before scoring between the posts, the conversion giving Blaenavon a 19-18 lead.
As the Bailey Park faithful wondered if the referee would find any more time, they were relieved to see Rob Lewis kicking off.
There was real urgency about Abergavenny’s play as they contemplated exiting the cup at the first hurdle.
The forwards used their pick and drive game to good effect, the backs ran with purpose and direction before Bleanavon were forced to concede a penalty in front of the posts much to the dismay of the visiting supporters. Rhys Jones coolly converted the opportunity to give Abergavenny a narrow 21-19 victory to take them into the second round where they will play Brynmawr at the Recreation Ground.
But the league season start on Saturday, with Aber scheduled to visit Ynysddu after a year and a half without league action was postponed, with the first game now set to be Talywain at home on Saturday, November 27.
Blaenavon played but suffered a second successive two-point loss in three days, pipped at Risca 22-20 in their opening Division 1 East clash.
In the same division, Brynmawr were also humbled 39-3 at Penallta, while Monmouth went down 30-16 at Nelson.
Usk opened their Div 3 East A league account in style under the lights on Friday night, running out 23-7 winners over Abercarn.
Blaenavon-based Forgeside also ran out 38-10 winners in Div 3 East D over visitors Old Tyleryan.
Other upcoming league fixtures a week on Saturday (November 27) include Blaenavon v Penallta, Brynmawr v Nelson, RTB Ebbw Vale v Usk, Trefil v Forgeside, Monmouth v Dowlais.
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