Fixture

Birchgrove RFC | 1st Team 15 - 30 Ystalyfera RFC | 1st Team
Jamie Sturgess
Conversion 1
Penalty 1
Lewis Cox
Try 1
Nathanial Llewellyn
Try 1
Ryan Lee James
1 Try
Steffan Lloyd Castle
1 Penalty
Luc Caines
1 Try
Benjamin Williams
1 Try
Jesse Patton
1 Try

Match Report
18 April 2019 / Team News

Birchgrove 15 – 30 Ystalyfera

Division One leaders Ystalyfera and Division Two leaders Birchgrove clashed in the Semi-Final of the Glamorgan County Silver Ball Competition, away at Glynneath on Wednesday the 17th April. Conditions were ideal being dry with no breeze of any type.

A large crowd saw Birchgrove kick off from the South end, Ystalyfera collecting but losing possession. After some jostling ‘Fera gave away a penalty for holding a tackled player. Birchgrove  Outside Half Jamie Sturgess dutifully obliged with a clean kick in the 3rd minute: score 3 – 0. From the restart Ystalyfera full back Steffan Castle returned a long kick into touch and Birchgrove took a quick line-out. Attempting to move the ball ownership exchanged hands, play rotating in midfield. Ystalyfera were awarded a penalty for Birchgrove forwards going over the top, and Steffan Castle moved the game into the Birchgrove 22. A catch and drive saw ‘Fera push forwards and another penalty resulted in the same tactic, only for Ystalyfera to lose the ball. The first scrum saw Birchgrove win a penalty for turning, and another infringement allowed Birchgrove to attack up the center, only to drop the ball. Both sides were contesting fiercely to gain control of possession. After scrum half ‘Shenko’ Jenkins stole the ball from the back of a Birchgrove scrum, the ball worked out to wing Luc Caines who sped up the line, only to be tackled into touch. Competitive ‘Fera lock Jesse Patton stole the Birchgrove throw in, and the ‘Fera pack launched an attack winning a penalty under the Birchgrove posts. Taking the scrum option, Ystalyfera shoved hard and the referee awarded a Penalty Try in the 23rd minute: score 3 – 7. A long restart was equally returned by Birchgrove up the riverside touchline, a  ‘Fera defender caught the ball but the chasing Birchgrove wing tackled in mid-air, leaving the referee no choice but to award a yellow card. A resulting line-out on the Birchgrove 5m line saw a ‘Fera catch and drive. A set of scrums between the sides kept Ystalyfera pressing in the Birchgrove 22, Outside half Gareth James dictating play with breaks and scrum choices. In the 36th minute, the tactics paid off with a quick movement of the ball out to wing Luc Caines catching out the weakened Birchgrove back line he run in the second ‘Fera Try: score 3 – 12. An immediate penalty from the restart allowed Gareth James to return the game into the Birchgrove 22. A cleanly taken catch and drive shifted an attack to the left and lock Jesse Patton powered his way over for the third Try in the 38th minute: score 3 – 17. Ystalyfera Centre Jonathan Bayliss caught the restart and set up the ‘Fera forwards. A high tackle however enabled the Birchgrove midfield to take quickly, and a determined thrust up the center enabled Lewis Cocks to get the first Birchgrove try in the 40+4th minute. This was converted by Andrew Rowlands leaving a half time score of 10 – 17.    

Ystalyfera restarted and Birchgrove immediately attempted to directly burst thru their defensive line. A set of scrums showed the ever increasing dominance of the Ystalyfera push. Birchgrove were forced to alter their front row, which gave only a small respite. After getting possession the Birchgove backs kicked the ball out on the full, giving the advantage back to their opponents. Ystalyfera in turn were giving away too many penalties, returning the favour. Birchgrove attempted to redeem the score with these chances but all efforts fell wide of the mark. After a long kick off-field by Birchgrove, Ystalyfera took a quick throw in but loose play put them into trouble. A 5m scrum allowed Birchgrove to continue the attack but ‘Fera clear the ball. Birchgrove were now willing themselves to get back into the game, and effort after effort had to be dealt with by the beleaguered ‘Fera defenders. The Birchgrove effort was not in vein and in the 60th minute wing Nathan Llewelyn run around an outnumbered ‘Fera back line to run in the second Birchgrove Try: score 15 – 17. Back in with a chance Birchgrove were encouraged, but Ystalyfera, with their top of Division One experience were cool, calm and collected. Winning the ball in midfield, play gradually creeped into the Birchgrove 22. After a break out from a line-out and a penalty won in the 70th minute, Full Back Steffan Castle stroked over to increase the lead 15 – 20. With fresh legs on the field Ystalyfera chose to retain possession as much as possible. Chances that came to Birchgrove were not breaking the strong ‘Fera defensive line. From a line-out and scrum on the ‘Fera right, the redoubtable centre Ryan ‘the Rhino’ James carried himself thru three tackles to get the fourth ‘Fera Try in the 80th minute: score 15 – 25. The writing was now on the wall for Birchgrove, and whilst they still bravely continued to make attacks Ystalyfera were solid. In the 80+3rd minute another collective push by the ‘Fera forwards saw flanker Ben Williams close the game with the fifth ‘Fera Try; final score Birchgrove 15 – 30 Ystalyfera.

This was a well contested Semi-Final played out by two Champion sides. Respect was the name of the game and the supporters were well feasted with a West Wales ‘Battle Royale’. Ystalyfera will now meet Nantyffyllon in the final at Bridgend on May 18th, a side put out of the Welsh Plate competition First Round 49 – 14 at Ynysydarren back on 29th September 2018.

Penalty count was 12 for Ystalyfera and 13 for Birchgrove.

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