The return league fixture at Bridgend Athletic was played on a soft damp surface. Ystalyfera kicked off with a slight breeze behind them, earning the first scrum. Result was the first penalty, closely followed by the second scrum and another penalty. This was converted by outside half Gareth James in the third minute. The restart saw a searching kick by Ystalyfera which was knocked on by Bridgend. A good grubber kick by scrum half Nathan Corneilius lifted the ‘Fera into the home 22, where a long defending clearance by Bridgend was well caught and returned by full back Steffan Castle. From a penalty the home side ventured into the Ystalyfera half for the first time, and a catch and drive move by their forwards carried them over for the first Try in the 10th minute, this converted for a score: 7 – 3. Three minutes into the restart and Ystalyfera prop Jonathan Williams was yellow carded by the referee for stamping. Flanker Tom Lewis had to leave the field for Robat White to enter the front row. This disruption was utilised by the home side who applied great pressure up front. In the 18th minute a push over 5m scrum brought the second Try – this also converted score: 14 – 3. Ystalyfera defence now sought the long kick to relieve constant attacks by the Athletic. This tactic plus a quickly taken penalty allowed the ‘Fera to advance on the home tryline but the Bridgend defence stood strong. Athletic were now playing most of the rugby and Ystalyfera sought to raise their game. An attempted chip ahead by Gareth James proved unlucky. Both sides now attempted to gain better position by line kicks, Bridgend getting a second catch and drive and conversion in the 37th minute. This left a half time score of 21 – 3.
Second half began with Ystalyfera in the Bridgend Athletic half looking for gaps. With nothing forthcoming play continued in the home half with ‘fera seeking to score, but Bridgend break away. Stopped in front of the posts, a big push by the visiting pack earned a relieving penalty. The contest remained in the Ystalyfera half, both sets of forwards working hard to gain clean possession. In the 60th minute at the Bridgend 22m line, a mistake saw the home backs burst into the visitors half and run in their fourth Try, again converted – score: 28 – 3. Despite the disparity Ystalyfera were not giving up, contention remaining in the Bridgend half. Penalties were now becoming frequent however, preventing the ‘Fera to build an effective recovery. With changes leading to uncontested scrums, pressure was applied by Bridgend and another goal was scored in the 70th minute – score: 35 – 3. The home side attempted to move the ball quickly at the end but Ystalyfera resisted with no further score.
The Ystalyfera tactic to compete with Bridgend Athletic across the field did not bear fruit. Bridgend took their time and finished well deserved winners.
Penalty counts were 16 for Ystalyfera and 11 against;
3 for hands in the ruck, 1 over the top, 1 deliberate knock on, 2 scrum offences, 1 holding ball on floor, 1 high tackle, 1 pulling down to ground and 1 offside.
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