The first League match for five weeks and a disappointing result for the Green and Whites at Caerleon despite a battling performance on a heavy pitch.
A reorganised back division with Kurtis Haile back on the wing, the ageless Darren Miles at centre and Youth player Sean Gwilliam at inside half, saw a game, not of two halves but more correctly perhaps of four quarters. Tillery certainly had the better of the first and third sessions, but it was the hosts who finished the stronger at the half and at no side.
Things couldn’t have started much better after the lay off as a third minute penalty goal from Liam Crandon opened the scoring and in the 7th Mike Williams added a fine individual try (to add to the two he scored in the friendly at Garndiffaith in a MoM performance last week). Taking a wayward kick in his own half he outpaced the home defence to touch down his own kick ahead for Crandon to add a wide angled conversion for a ten point lead. Unfortunately, the effort was too much for the full back who limped off with a groin injury to be replaced by Ryan Price, Haile returning to the centre in the subsequent reshuffle.
However, within two minutes Caerleon were back in the match as they worked an overlap on the right for the wing to run behind the posts for an easy conversion which reduced arrears to three points. For a while Caerleon controlled the ball with little progress, but the Green and white scrum began to disintegrate and after shoving Tillery off their own ball, an overlap on the left led to a second wing try. 12-10. Another scrum fell apart shortly afterwards and worse was to come as an over exuberant Gwilliam threw down the full back in a Judo style tackle which brought him a yellow card. Caerleon added a penalty but Crandon cancelled that out with a 35 metre kick in the 39th, leaving the half time score at Caerleon 15 Abertillery BG 13.
The third quarter was dominated territorially by the men in green but they could find no way over the line despite keeping possession and there was a forward reshuffle as lock Rhys Pendrie replaced No 8 Joel Wright, but in the 58th minute another Caerleon penalty increased the lead to five points. Tillery battled back and Dafydd Cripps fought his way over wide out. Crandon converted for a two point advantage (20-18), but minutes later Caerleon were awarded another penalty after clearly knocking the ball forward. Justice was seen to be done as the kick sailed wide, but from the restart the home centre carved his way through the defence to lay on a try for the supporting hooker and with the conversion it was 25-20. The home team upped their efforts in a bid for a fourth try which would have brought the bonus point but the right wing knocked on with the line at his mercy and although he had a chance to make amends in the dying seconds a 3rd penalty goal took away a possible Tillery bonus point and the match finished at 28-20.
There is a long way to go in the season which has become a bit disjointed and disrupted by injuries but some reflection and evaluation is necessary before the next League match with Risca on 7th January 2017!
The Club will play a Friendly at Brynithel on Thursday 29th December in aid of Ben Thorne who suffered a serious industrial accident during the summer, kick off 2:pm.
MoM; Lewis Prosser, the pick of a battling forward effort. Mike Thomas did well for an hour but faded towards the end.
Abertillery BG; Mike Williams (Ryan Price); Kurtis Haile, Luke Morgan, Darren Miles, Aled Penn; Liam Crandon, Sean Gwilliam; Dafydd Cripps (captain), Jordan Legge, Scott Hoskins (Andy Rowlands);Matthew Catlin (Jack Woodland), Mike Thomas; Lewis Prosser, Joel Wright (Rhys Pendrie), Iestyn James
Abertillery Blaenau Gwent RFC