Abertillery Blaenau Gwent RFC
In November 1839 men from Nantyglo were among the Chartists who marched on The Westgate Hotel in Newport-today a smaller but equally fervent band made the shorter four miles trip to The Park for The Battle of the Ebbw Fach Valley and were similarly repulsed, although without the use of soldiers and muskets!
Seeking to avenge two heavy defeats at the hands of The 'Glo two years ago, when they stormed to the Two East title, the current champions of that Division were led out by prop Dafydd Cripps as, once again some key players were absent-but the match began in a scrappy fashion which was to continue throughout the afternoon-
The opening minutes saw plenty of errors and a failure to control the ball by both teams, but after Cripps and Rhys Pendrie were held up short, Conor Miles managed to spot a small blind side gap to cross in the left corner- Liam Crandon's excellent touchline kick adding the two points for a 7-nil lead, which lasted less than three minutes!
From the restart a senseless offside penalty allowed the visitors to kick into the corner and manufacture a rolling maul try from the resulting lineout, the conversion levelling the scores_Matthew Catlin managed to get hands to the opposition throws on two occasions, but overthrows on their own ball meant no continuity for the home XV
Lewis Bates was the main source of attacking success and good carries by Cripps and Scott Hoskins lead to a 24th minute penalty which Crandon goaled to retake the lead, and there was also some good footwork from full back Luke Morgan as space was sought-but, the errors and scrappy nature of the match went on until Crandon was given another chance to kick a second penalty goal to ensure that the hosts led by six at the interval-Abertillery BG 13 Nantyglo 7
Mike Thomas replaced Pendrie and Matthew Jones came on for Iestyn James at the half and a long kick by Morgan set up another good position, spoiled by another poor throw, but on 44 a third penalty again increased the margin between the teams
Another huge clearance kick from Morgan was a highlight, but Bates was yellow carded, reducing the match to 14 a side as he followed a visiting player to the "Cell Cosb" as they say on S4C!- Andy Rowlands and Dan Crandon replaced Hoskins and Jack Summers for the last quarter of an hour as Nantyglo reduced arrears with a penalty of their own-16-10
At last! A superb sleight of hand from Morgan, as he slipped a pass out of the back door and put Mike Williams haring down the touchline and round behind the posts for a decisive score, Crandon's conversion making it 23-10 as the clock ticked down
Unfortunately the match ended badly for the excellent Bates who suffered an arm injury in the dying seconds and Tillery finished with 14 men as referee Rob Price (the son of Commonwealth Games 110 metres Gold Medallist, Berwyn) blew for no side-
Bates put in another strong performance as did Catlin and Lewis Prosser but the Man of the Match Award goes to full back Luke Morgan, who apart from the top drawer pass, put in an excellent day's work!
The Club are grateful to Ray Taylor who sponsored today's Match ball, thank you!
Abertillery BG; Luke Morgan;Mike Williams, Darren Miles, Lewis Bates, Ryan Price; Liam Crandon, Conor Miles; Dafydd Cripps,captain, Jordan Legge (Anthony Isgrove), Scott Hoskins (Andy Rowlands); Rhys Pendrie (Mike Thomas), Matthew Catlin; Jack Summers, Lewis Prosser, Iestyn James (Matthew Jones)