Half empty or half full? Which way should the result be read? ’Tillery ended a run of six League successive defeats coming from behind, or did they miss out on a victory chance that would have been targeted at the outset?
The match began well, Tillery having the best of the opening exchanges and took the lead with a 40 metres Liam Crandon penalty following a scrum offence, but the same player was narrowly wide two minutes later with a similar attempt. It was encouraging to see the willingness to put the ball through the hands on a dry, windless afternoon. This policy paid early dividends with Luke Morgan, Aled Penn and Kurtis Haile working an opening down the left touchline. Morgan looked to have overkicked the ball, but Haile’s never say die spirit saw him reach the ball before it rolled over the dead ball line and claim a try. 8-nil.
Blaenavon hit back and were held up on the line, but eventually settled for three points with a kick from in front of the posts in the 28th minute. Sadly, as the game moved towards the break, missed tackles off the back of a scrum saw Mattravers the flanker break through and seconds later the loosehead prop bundled over on the right for 8 all and so it was when the half time whistle sounded.
Anthony Isgrove replaced Jordan Legge for the start of the second period, but the first scrum was ominous as Blaenavon trundled forward. However, from a prominent position the full back was yellow carded and a penalty allowed Crandon to clear the lines, just before Conor O’Leary replaced Iestyn James on the flank. Home hopes were raised with a break out on the left but it ended at the 22 when Penn was bundled into touch.
Moments later Blaenavon were through and clear, but were held up on the line. O’Leary, unfortunately disappeared to the sin bin and the pressure told when a penalty try was awarded to the visitors, the conversion opening up a 7 points gap in the 51st minute. Shortly afterwards good runs by full back Morgan and lock Matthew Catlin earned a foothold in the Blaenavon half and the resulting penalty brought an even better position, from which centre Cobey Edwards made a telling break and found the supporting Morgan on the inside. The full back duly crossed and Crandon’s conversion levelled matters at 15 apiece.
In the 58th Jack Woodland replaced Scott Hoskins, but the Green Army was under severe pressure which told as the visitors got a third try, the left wing going over to finish an overlap chance. 15-20
Ryan Price made a good run from a loose clearance kick, but was held up short of the line and things were becoming desperate, but a stronger scrum gained a useful position. A penalty and yellow card as Edwards made for the corner created another chance and the ever enthusistic Haile got his second try offering himself on the charge, but the goal attempt went wide, so instead of pulling up the drawbridge the Green and whites tried in vain to engineer a score from deep in their own territory and almost threw the draw away as nerve ends were frayed. Sensibly, the chase was abandoned and a penalty clearance brought the no side whistle.
Man of the Match; Luke Morgan was in fine form at full back but Kurtis Haile’s two tries were crucial to the result and so the centre takes it.
Next week the Green Army goes up the hill to The Banna Park for a local derby against Nantyglo.
Other fixtures news: The match v Penallta, frozen off before Christmas, will be on April 22nd, and the Club has been drawn away to Brynmawr in the quarter final of the Ben Francis Cup, tba.
Abertillery BG; 15 Luke Morgan;14 Ryan Price,13 Kurtis Haile,12 Cobey Edwards,11 Aled Penn; 10 Liam Crandon,9 Shaun Gwilliam: 1 Dafydd Cripps,captain, 2 Jordan Legge (Anthony Isgrove),3 Scott Hoskins (Jack Woodland); 4 Matthew Catlin,5 Mike Thomas:6 Iestyn James (Conor O’Leary),8 Joel Wright,7 Lewis Prosser
Abertillery Blaenau Gwent RFC