Injury Hit Bedwas Earn Draw
Bedwas RFC 31 Aberavon RFC 31 Premier Division Saturday 3 May 2008.
Report by Geoff Watkins
The final match for Bedwas, the penultimate for Aberavon, the high scoring draw placing the Bridgefield Club in a respectable 8th position and above fellow Gwent clubs and close rivals Newport and Cross Keys in the fourteen club Premiership. A last minute try by the Wizards denied Bedwas the win but so many injuries during the match and regular reshuffling of the backs finally proved too much.
Bedwas coach Steve Law commented 'It was a typically hard end of season game. We should have scored more points in the first half but were under pressure for much of the second half, the early key injuries making a difference and forwards having to play in the back line. A commendable draw was perhaps a fair result.'
Aberavon coach Simon King commented ‘We dominated the final quarter and looking at the four quarters of the match each side had a share of possession and play. Overall a draw was a fair result.’
Bedwas made an enterprising start to the match with scrum half James Pizey sniping through from close in after one and a half minutes play for full back Stuart Thomas to convert. Aberavon immediately hitting back with their heavyweight forwards driving through for a 7th minute try from scrum half Chris Morgans for outside half Ricky Thomas to add the extras. Bedwas responded with a penalty by Stuart Thomas two minutes later.
The forward exchanges were already uncompromising and aggressive, Bedwas suffering a blow when after 10 minutes dangerous wing Jimmy Norris was off injured replaced by Andrew James who played at centre, Adam Hughes moving to the wing. The Wizards again moved the ball well for centre Liam Gadd to cross at the posts for Ricky Thomas to convert at the end of the first quarter. A high tackle by home centre John Welch had him sin-binned but Bedwas scored again through a 26th minute Stuart Thomas penalty and then had wing Scott Horner carried off with a leg injury requiring hospital treatment. Scrum half Gareth Crothers replaced Horner and Stuart Thomas was again accurate with his third penalty, on the half hour, quickly followed by excellent handling pace for centre Dai Atkins to race through a wide gap to the posts for a fine 37th minute shock try. Stuart Thomas converting and then adding his fourth penalty from 42 metres for a 26-14 lead, but in the final minute of the half Aberavon snatched a corner try by wing Richard Carter to take the score at half time to 26-19 Bedwas.
Six minutes into the second period Bedwas replaced prop Keiron Jenkins with Jon Salter and hooker Brian Edwards with Keiran Jenkins, the rub of the green going against them with a high Thomas penalty, on target, but the wind stalled it and it dropped under the bar. A second penalty hit the post but a bout of very long passing and a John Welch break sent Adam Hughes racing along the touchline for a very good try after 54 minutes. Bedwas then had to replace centre Dai Atkins, number 8 Brendan Lampitt coming on at flanker, with flanker Andrew Tibbatts having to move out to the wing and Adam Hughes back into the centre position.
Aberavon came back into the match with a vengeance; the 62nd minute saw a try and conversion by Ricky Thomas to reduce the home sides’ lead to 5 points. Bedwas made their final substitutions with lock Sion Dafydd replacing Rhodri Edwards and prop Dafydd Lewis on for Gareth Leonard with 15 minutes left. With forward replacements on Aberavon’s heavyweight pack resorted to an exhausting succession of scrums in the closing minutes, the pressure telling as Bedwas repeatedly threw themselves into a determined ‘bodies on the line’ defence but a last desperate effort in the 79th minute had huge number 8 Richard Thomas driven over for the try to draw level. The conversion attempt to win the match hitting a post, and it would have been an injustice if either side had snatched the win after such a bruising hard, injury littered match. An excellent season of Premiership rugby was brought to a close for the Bridgefield club. The hard work has already commenced in preparation to meet the challenges both on and off the field of play for the fifth Premiership season of rugby at Bedwas.
Stuart Thomas, Scott Horner, Adam Hughes, Dai Atkins, Jimmy Norris, John Welch, James Pizey, Gareth Leonard, Brian Edwards, Keiron Jenkins, Craig Powell, Rhodri Edwards, Andrew Tibbatts, Robert Downes, Neil Lewis.