The long awaited Swalec Plate Quarter Final took place in front of a crowd of over four hundred spectators at Parc Bodegroes . The efforts of the ground staff had ensured that the pitch was in playable condition for the match even though it did cut up in the course of the eighty minutes. One minute's silence was observed by both teams and the crowd in memory of the Ex Pwllheli player Graham Jones who has died suddenly earlier in the week.
The visitors started the match the better. It was evident from the outset that they would be largely dependent on their beefy pack. From the kick off Abercarn took the game to Pwllheli in short bursts. After only three minutes Pwllheli conceded a penalty which was duly converted by their fly half Jamie Baker. Pwllheli responded well and two minutes on they were awarded a penalty as Abercarn were caught offside.The attempt drifted wide. Both sides were clearly hyped up for the game and heavy tackles flew in from both sides. The Abercarn eight initially had a slight edge in the scrum but the Pwllheli lineout functioned well. Sixteen minutes in Abercarn won the ball on their right. Pwllheli missed a front up tackle and they made ground. Though the last pass was forward the try was allowed as centre Jack Davies touched down much to the delight of the visiting supporters. Pwllheli upped the tempo and as always the home backs looked threatening with ball in hand. Twenty none minutes in Pwllheli won loose ball in their own half. Forwards and backs inter-passed neatly and flanker Ifan Roberts crashed over under the posts. Osian Parry Jones' conversion took the Lleyn side to within a point of the opposition. Pwllheli continued to threaten.Their pack were camped in the red zone for six minutes. Following a series of penalties for killing the ball the referee finally lost patience and awarded a penalty try.. Parry Jones duly slotted the conversion. Half time came with Pwllheli leading by fourteen points to eight.
The opening minutes of the second period was all Pwllheli. Three minutes in Kallim Kelemete made a break on the half way line. he pierced Abercarn's cover and kicked ahead. Fly half John Pugh outpaced the cover to touch down. With Parry Jones successfully adding the two points Pwllheli looked to be in the driving seat.
The home side were in the Abercarn twenty two when a penalty was awarded against them for offside. Pwllheli queried the verdict and were duly pulled back another ten yards. An excellent penalty touch kick by fly half Baker took them into the Pwllheli twenty two.They won clean ball at the lineout and made ground before releasing a neat pass to left wing Aled Brown who squeezed in at the corner. The super touchline conversion by Baker took them improbably to within six points of Pwllheli. Though Abercarn's hooker was yellow carded on fifteen minutes it was Abercarn who were now on the front foot. They took Pwllheli on up front and Pwllheli's potent back line was starved of the ball. Twenty one minutes in Abercarn conjured up a fine try from open play. It was a Baker brothers double with flanker Greg scoring the try and fly half Jamie slotting the conversion. This gave the visitors a twenty two to twenty one lead.Pwllheli responded with a flair try of their own . The ball was won in the Abercarn half. They switched the ball right before stretching Aberacrn on the left and Pwllheli's Berwyn Jones won the race for the corner. The conversion missed.
To their credit Abercarn came back strongly. They depended on the extra weight brought in off the bench to gradually throttle Pwllheli's possession. They used their rolling maul effectively to make ground. Pwllheli were deemed to have killed the ball and second row Campos was yellow carded. On thirty three minutes their wing Rhys Morgan scored a try which the dependable Baker converted. With seven minutes to go Pwllheli were now twenty six points to twenty seven down. They took the ball deep into Abercarn's twenty two but were rocked when they were penalised in a ruck. There was no way back for Pwllheli as the Abercarn eight kept the ball tight. The final blow came when they were allowed to to a quick penalty with the referee's back turned for scrum half Colin Manning to score. The conversion by Baker sealed the win for the joyous Abercarn team and supporters.
The defeat is a massive blow for Pwllheli's ambitions for the season. They had prepared well for this key fixture but the vagaries of rugby mean that there are many issues on the pitch which were beyond their control.They have played better in earlier rounds of the competition but they were unable to close the game down when they seemed to have achieved a winning scoreline. All credit to Abercarn who rejoiced in their unexpected win and Pwllheli wish them well in the next round.
Pwllheli do not play this weekend and their next fixture is a home league match against Bro Ffestiniog on March 4. Kick off is at 2.30.
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