In cloudy conditions with no wind, Ystalyfera received the ball from visitors Maesteg Quins at the ‘School’ end of Ynysydarren. The game began with a series of testing kicks by both sides, the Quins giving away a line out on the home 22m line. The first scrum saw Maesteg move the ball along their back line, earning their first penalty in the 4th minute for offside, converted by full back Geraint Evans. The visitors continued to attack from the re-start, but Ystalyfera defended solidly. A break out ensued, and centre Jonathan Bayliss tore thru to touch down the first ‘Fera Try, converted by outside half Gareth James: score 7 – 3. The game returned to the home half with Maesteg probing for gaps in the Ystalyfera defence. Another break away by the ‘Fera backs earned a penalty after a deliberate knock on. Gareth James converting in the 15th minute.The fast pace now slowed down and the contest continued back and fore in midfield. Ystalyfera appeared to become more hungry for possession but in the 22nd minute Geraint Evans kicked a long penalty from the half way line which motivated the visitors. The Maesteg forwards began to work the ball and after a failed drop goal attempt, a further penalty was awarded which the ever accurate Geraint Evans put over lifting the score to 10 – 9. Both sides were now playing an open game trying to increase their score. The fast pace seemed to be the winner however, dropped passes and knock-ons prevalent for both teams up to half time.
Maesteg defended the restart with a return to half way, ‘Fera backs moving the ball into the visitor half. Ystalyfera were now putting together some excellent plays, advancing up the field. In the 47th minute a penalty kick by Gareth James hits a post, the rebound made safe. Ystalyfera were now working hard to increase the lead, driving attempts by the forwards being unlucky. In the 53rd minute Maesteg broke out of defence and in the ‘tunnel’ corner a favourable catch and drive from a line out saw them push over for their first Try by prop Dean Ronan. Geraint Evans converts score 10 – 16. Immediately from the restart the Quins hustled their way thru the haphazard home defence to score a second Try by scrum half Geraint Watkins. This was again converted by the ever accurate Evans: score 10 – 23. The game structure now fell apart and was wide open with gaps everywhere. Ystalyfera forwards striving to recover began to push towards the visitor posts, but Maesteg backs broke out again. In the 70th minute a fourth penalty was kicked for Maesteg, but the ‘Fera did not give up. Extended pressure on the visitors’ try-line at the end was rewarded by the referee with a penalty Try in the 82nd minute, converted by Gareth James leaving a final score of 17 – 26 to the visitors.
For two mid-table sides this was an energetic game, both attempting to run the ball and collect as much points as possible. In the end the difference was the penalty chances taken by Maesteg Quins, they deserving the victory on the day.
Penalty counts were 6 for Ystalyfera and 8 against – 4 of which were converted;
3 for hands in the ruck, 1 holding after a tackle and 4 offside.
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