Abertillery Blaenau Gwent RFC
Oh dear! A chastening and demoralising defeat on the second Saturday of this season's program in Division One East, a six try mauling at the hands of one of the dark horses of the Division, but a team the Green and Whites had done well against in previous encounters It was the first League defeat since December 5th last year (7-14 at Caerleon) and the first League defeat at The Park since Abergavenny triumphed by 21-10 on March 28th 2015!
The absence of five first choice players was compounded by the early exit of Graham Heath and showed a lack of depth in certain squad positions, and the reasons for absence are disappointing for supporters!
After a minute's silence in respect of Club stalwarts Russell Morgan and Mrs Joyce Price, who both sadly passed away last weekend, the match was underway, but loose kicking enabled Nelson to get onto the front foot in the opening minutes and the early scrummages were a struggle, too-The defence was stretched and a 4th minute penalty allowed outside half Ellis to open the visitors account, before a high tackle on Luke Morgan allowed Liam Crandon the chance to level in the 8th
In the 10th Nelson should have opened their try account but dropped a scoring pass with the line begging, to the relief of home supporters, but a 12th minute turnover led to the same wing, Humphries crossing on the right-Ellis converting from wide out, and in the 16th a poor kick allowed another counter attack with the same player getting the try, at which point prop Graham Heath left the field injured to be replaced by Scott Hoskins, a new signing from Oakdale
Abertillery struggled at the lines out, three overthrows costing possession in good positions and the young pack, shorn of experienced leaders found it tough going against a solid group of forwards-but a strong and determined burst by centre Lewis Bates, put Mike Williams away to score in the corner, a try allowed after a late flag from the Nelson touch judge- Liam Crandon converted with an excellent touchline kick to reduce arrears to 10-15 Another penalty from Ellis moved the black clad visitors further ahead and in the 35th before another poor clearance set Nelson up for another counter attack try, converted again for a half time score of 10-25
The visitors back row featured two strong ball carriers in Ford (son of former Abertillery prop, Wayne) and No 8 Pearce and they were prominent throughout the match
At the start of the second half Tillery gained an early foothold and seemed to have scored from a line out, but it was disallowed and Nelson cleared their lines- There was a lack of control at crucial times and problems continued at the line out, not straight this time! In the 55th minute Nicky Thomas replaced the lively Jack Summers and Anthony Isgrove came on at hooker for Jordan Legge, Matthew Jones replacing Iestyn James on 60, but despite a lot of pressure the Green and Whites failed to score, eventually caving in as the visitors added three tries in the last seven minutes, the first of these a penalty try from a driven lineout, the second when the visiting openside found a gap and strolled 40 metres unopposed to the posts and, finally an overlap enabled Humphries to complete a hat trick, all of these converted by Ellis in a match haul of 16 points
A crucial factor was the strength of the Nelson replacements who came on against a tiring and largely inexperienced defence, populated by a few forwards who might like to give Greggs and the kebab shop a wide berth for a while!
Final score Abertillery BG 10 Nelson 46
Green and White Man of the Match: Mike Williams, offered something in attack and scored a fine try!
Abertillery BG; Luke Morgan; Conor Miles, Darren Miles, Lewis Bates, Mike Williams (Simon Adams); Liam Crandon, Luke Pegler captain; Andy Rowlands, Jordan Legge (Anthony Isgrove), Graham Heath (Scott Hoskins); Rhys Pendrie, Matthew Catlin; Jack Summers (Nicky Thomas), Lewis Prosser, Iestyn James (Matthew Jones)