Ystalyfera RFC | 1st Team 9 - 15 Neath RFC | 1st Team
Steffan Castle
Penalty 3
Luke Griffiths
2 Try
1 Conversion
1 Drop Goal

Match Report
10 December 2019 / Team News

Ystalyfera 9 – 15 Neath

The much awaited meeting between Ystalyfera and the famed Neath took place on the 7th December at Ynysydarren. Wet conditions with a slight drizzle of rain not putting off a large crowd of supporters, coming to see the Welsh ‘All blacks’ contest for league points versus the ‘Fera.

With no wind effect of any sort, Neath kicked off toward the Swansea end, a clearance kick being the response from Ystalyfera Senior Team Coach and Outside Half Gareth James. The visitors quickly returned the ball with a deep punt downfield which ‘Fera Full Back Steffan Castle fielded, only for the referee to give Ystayfera the first penalty of the game for offside. Gareth James set up the home side with their first attack in the Garage corner, wing Bowdy Davies recovering the ball. Using his speed a sharp burst thru ensued, this being disallowed with a return penalty. Neath run the ball and following with a long kick moved play down to the Changing Room corner. Both sides were testing their relative defences with high kicks in the slippery conditions, eventually stopping with the first scrum in centre-field. Neath made a big push and played the ball out, only to pass off-field when effectively blocked by the ‘Fera line defence. Not put off Neath made a determined attack, moving down into the home 22. The ball soon returned into the air, with both sides exchanging kicks. A penalty awarded to Ystalyfera for a crossed pass enabled Gareth James to set his side up in the visitor 22. Regaining possession in the line out, aggressive defence by the Neath forwards stole the ball, the game settling in midfield. Despite the slippery conditions, both teams were working hard to find chinks in their opponents’ defences, and neither were giving anything away. After a line kick and a penalty Neath set themselves up back in the Changing room corner. Moving smartly out the line a positive break looked forthcoming, but a needless penalty was given away, allowing Steffan Castle to clear back to the half way line. Neath attacked again and Gareth James gave away a penalty after a high tackle, the All Blacks back into the Changing Room corner again. Opting for a scrum on this occasion, Neath were thwarted by a strong ‘Fera scrum, another penalty being the result. Ystalyfera were giving as good as they got, centre Josh Jarrett having to leave the field, substituted by Cerith Gibson in the 30th minute. Neath continued to mostly play a ten man game, lifting the ball from the centre back positions and chasing, looking for defensive errors. The slippery conditions and the wary ‘Fera line backs however, were proving too strong, play rotating between the 22m lines. At the end of the first period, the Ystalyfera forwards worked the ball, looking to break thru, only for play to end with further line kicks.

ttacking from the re-start, playing toward the Clubhouse end, Ystalyfera sought to break the deadlock, only for Neath to clear the ball. Quickly chasing forward, events stopped in the Garage corner, where Neath were awarded a kickable penalty. Wing and Captain Luke Griffiths dutifully obliged in the 43rd minute: score 0 – 3. Not put off, Ystalyfera forwards went back on the offensive, pressure forcing the Neath defence to clear the ball out on the full, giving the ‘Fera a line out in the Blacks 22. Off the line out, smart passing in midfield carved a gap for centre Jonathan Bayliss, but the referee returned play for a penalty for Ystalyfera! Staffan Castle took the opportunity, and the score moved to 3 – 3 in the 47th minute. Demands were now being increased on both sides, with play increasing in speed and intensity, and supporters recognising the increased tempo on the field. Substitutes were on and the game began to open up. Neath were putting in heavy scrums in the ‘Fera 22, and the home forwards were responding accordingly. A penalty for offside moving play to half way, The Ystalyfera pack seemed more effective this half and a big contest arose between the front men. In the 63rd minute a penalty was won by Ystalyfera and the cool Staffan Castle stroked over to give Ystalyfera the lead for the first time 6 – 3. Neath resorted back to the kick and chase tactics, the Ystalyfera defence having to keep very much alert. Another penalty won by his forwards fell just short for Steffan Castle in the 71st minute. Both sides were giving everything and another attack by the Neath forwards in the ‘Fera 22 saw the home line defence tackle and tackle until eventually wing Luke Griffiths was free, running in the first Try in the 76th minute. This he converted lifting the score to 6–10 for Neath. Buoyed by the return of the lead, Neath played with much more vigour and Ystalyfera were pushed to gain control of the ball. With the light and time fading fast, all eyes were on the referee to determine how much game was left. Despite efforts by Ystalyfera, Neath raced up field in possession and were able to run in another ‘copycat’ try by Luke Griffiths in the same corner in the 80+5th minute.  This was not converted: score 6 – 15. The contest continued and Ystalyfera, not giving up, pressed again. With a penalty won in the Neath 22 in the 80+8th minute, the decision was made to go for the posts to collect a losing Bonus point, the chance of victory being out of reach. Steffan Castle did the job and the match ended 9 – 15 to Neath.

This game was as good as anyone could have envisaged, both sides putting in everything (and more), The large crowd were richly entertained, and whilst Neath and their supporters left somewhat surprised and greatly relieved, the ‘Fera players and supporters were proud, unbowed and glad of the chance to prove their capability against a senior Welsh side. On reflection the bonus point was a help in this long campaign, victories versus sides below us in the table, being to topmost priority.

Penalty count was 15 against Neath and 8 against Ystalyfera.


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