Abertillery Blaenau Gwent RFC
Well, if it needed a musical accompaniment the first League match of 2016-17 might have used Handl's "Water Music" , if you are of a Classical persuasion, but a trawl through some hits of the 70's and 80's might have led supporters to begin with Supertramp's "It's Raining Again", enjoy Danald Fagen's "Walk Between the Raindrops" as the game began quite well for the Green and Whites, sink desperately to Eruption's "I Can't Stand The Rain" and finish with Neil Sedaka's "Laughter In The Rain" as a grateful captain hoofed the ball into touch after spending most of the second half under the cosh, Risca fighting back strongly from a ten point deficit.
The match at the stores Field kicked off at 2:31 after a pre-match silence for a home Club member, but equally valid for Tillery as former committee man Russell Morgan had passed away this morning-
The visitors struggled at the first scrum and Risca had the better of the early exchanges, but Kurtis Haile had the first opportunity to run after a charge down reversed possession-Most of the match took place between the 22's and Tillery had the better of the line out battle but possession was scrappy- Eventually a foothold was gained in the home 22 and hooker Jordan Legge scored the first League try in the 13th minute, battling over after a series of strong forward runs- Liam Crandon converted for the 7 points lead and it was encouraging to see the willingness of the forwards to carry the ball and attempt to run in the wider areas
In the 21st minute a home infringement gave Crandon a simple goal chance to extend the lead and the defence held out any raids with firm and determined tackling, but as the moments ticked away towards the interval, Risca showed their handling skills and worked wing Whitehead over near the posts for outside half Biddicombe to add the points with no time to restart-
Half time; Risca 7 Abertillery BG 10
The interval extended to ten minutes with Risca seemingly reluctant to re emerge from The Sheds as the rain intensified to a deluge, which literally drowned the second half- Crandon's restart kick went straight to touch and the hosts seized the initiative for a while but eventually Luke Pegler's kick to the corner caused confusion and just moments later new signing Mike Thomas scored the second try, which although unconverted meant a two score lead at 15-7- But, the rain got even heavier!
Risca almost scored from a clever cross kick, but were called back for a further penalty which was aimed to the left corner- Reinforcements from the bench helped the defensive effort, particularly Lewis Prosser who was prominent in the late siege endured by the soggy Tillery men- Penalties by Biddicombe in the 57th and 67th minutes reduced the deficit to two points but in conditions which were deteriorating by the minute, Tillery were awarded a penalty after a big scrum surge and Crandon landed a fine effort from wide on the left, but Risca kept coming and from driving mauls following line outs they had try chances in the seventy-ninth and 82nd minutes- However, the defenders held firm and were relieved to see the ball disappear over the touchline having turned over another home effort- On another day the result could well have gone to the home team, but the team management will be satisfied with an on the road victory start to the season!
Full Time; Risca 13 Abertillery BG 18
On a light note, good to see former Club stalwart Dan "Swede" Meredith on the tight head for The Cuckoos, and lasting the game!
Man of the Match: No 8 Dan Crandon, excellent control and some good drives, as well as a share in the defensive action-
Abertillery BG; Mike Williams, Conor Miles (Aled Penn 53), Luke Morgan, Lewis Bates, Kurtis Haile, Liam Crandon, Luke Pegler, captain; Dafydd Cripps, Jordan Legge (Anthony Isgrove 58), Graham Heath, Matthew Catlin (Rhys Pendrey 58), Mike Thomas, Jack Summers, Dan Crandon, Iestyn James (Lewis Prosser 47)