With the weather set dry, warm and calm the visitors Aberystwyth were given the usual warm welcome to Crickmarren last Saturday afternoon. A large crowd had assembled, with many enjoying a pre match drink in beautiful conditions. The match was sponsored by the Maidenwells Collective and the match ball by Mike Webb and Family. Everyone attending anticipated a keen contest, because the last time the teams had met was in the Pembs KO Cup Final at St Davids in 2019, when after a titanic battle, Aber ran out worthy winners. Pembroke were forced into a couple of last minute changes to their squad, whilst Aber declared at full strength. The clubs had agreed for this to be a double header, for points in the Plate and a place in the draw for the next round of the Pembs KO Cup, so there was a lot at stake as the sides took the field.
Prior to the 3 pm kick off there was a minutes silence to honour the life of the recently passed Judith McTaggart (wife of ex player Tony and sister to the recently passed Dai Williams).
Pembroke started very brightly, they stole possession from the Aber catcher at the kick off and forced a penalty in kickable position; No 10 Alderwick duly stepped up to give the home side a very early lead. Aber however, struck back immediately. Pembroke had made inroads into the Aber twenty two, but the visitors backs ran out of defence and won a penalty at the breakdown near the half way line; they kicked this deep into the home twenty two, where they ran the possession gained at the lineout, went through phases allowing their scrum half an opportunity to crash over near the posts, for a well taken converted try and the lead. Soon after Alderwick was presented with another penalty opportunity after Aber had transgressed at the breakdown, but failed to convert. Both sides had demonstrated a willingness to play wide, with Aber’s speedy, skilful backs looking particularly dangerous. For the middle fifteen minutes of the half the game seesawed between both halves, with both sides trying hard to pierce their equally solid defences. Then after twenty eight minutes, Pembroke’s wing John was yellow carded for lying on the ball at a ruck, whilst Aber lost their No 8 for punching at a melee. Pembroke built some good attacks, with scrum half Gibby showing his pace, but sadly some poor final passes undermined and halted their attacks. Thirty five minutes in Pembroke had again created pressure deep in Aber territory, only to see the visitors break out of defence to put wing Ellis in space and he used his searing pace to go over unopposed for a try in the corner, which was very ably converted by No 10 Hughes. Minutes later, Pembroke were again making inroads, but were penalised allowing Aber to kick deep into their territory. From the ensuing lineout, the visitor’s backs skilfully moved the ball wide, using a well rehearsed move and created space for Ellis to bag his second try, unopposed in the corner; Hughes added the extras. With literally only minutes of the half remaining, Pembroke built an attack from loose play in their own half, scrum half Gibby made a break in midfield and fed flanker Alex Thomas, who went over unopposed for an unconverted try to bring the home side back into the game. The score at the break was 8-21, with the visitors looking a well drilled and well organised outfit; their sublime support for all ball carriers during the half, allied to aggressive work at the breakdown, excellent handling and good tactical control at ten had given them a big advantage during this very entertaining match.
Minutes into the second half Pembroke lost full back Hartland to a dislocated shoulder, which provided young Jordan Cornick with a home debut. Aber were in determined mood and went on the attack from the off; their industrious forwards went through multiple phases and ball was moved wide to wing Ellis, who in the process of being tackled into touch gave a magnificent slip pass to his centre Evans, who scored to round off a great team effort. Pembroke made a few changes to bring on fresh legs. For the next ten minutes, the game went through a period of stalemate, then Aber lost their lock Binks to a yellow card for a high tackle on Gibby, who thankfully recovered to continue. The home side then camped for a long period in the Aber twenty two, but some poor passing and strong Aber defence prevented them from finishing a number of promising positions. As the match entered the final quarter, Aber broke out of defence through their backs, but they lost an opportunity as the ball kicked on by their wing rolled into touch near the stand, when a score seemed certain. However, their forwards regained possession and after a number of phases, quick ball was pushed out to their centre Evans to go over unopposed at the Lamphey end; Hughes added the extras to extend Aber’s lead. Aber maintain their pressure deep in the home twenty two for the final minutes of the game, but some determined tackling kept them at bay. After yet another home clearance, Aber won a lineout near the half way line, possession was moved along the backline to wing Ellis, who was some forty yards out; but he used his pace and some excellent footwork to evade two defenders to create an opportunity to score, what was a marvellous individual try to round off a dominant second half display by the visitors. Sadly for them they lost centre Evans to a very late yellow card for repeated infringements. Pembroke in the dying seconds mounted a late attack that saw hooker Gwyther denied as he crossed the line. The referee blew for no side leaving the visitors very worthy winners by 8-40, after a very impressive all round display. Pembroke were left deflated after a lot of good work during the game and were very disappointed not to have taken advantage of being a man up for much of the game and the many opportunities they had created, but their coaches acknowledged and paid tribute to the calibre of the performance by the visitors.
The First XV are playing away at Crymych tomorrow (Saturday), KO 2.30pm. Any supporters wanting to travel on the team coach should contact Dilwyn Williams.
TIGERS (Second XV)
The Tigers welcomed Narberth to Crickmarren and because of Covid protocols they had to kick off at 2pm. Conditions were perfect for both sides and both were at near full strength.
The whole match proved to be a really physical affair, with neither side taking a backward step. From the first whistle Narberth backs looked fast and dangerous and only determined defence from home backs Shaun Dalling, Rhys Griffiths, Rhys Johns, Steve Brown and Darcy Langston kept them out on a number of occasions early in the game. Eventually Narberth’s persistence and a well placed kick behind the home backline, which bounced up into the hands of full back Shane Rossiter, brought them a score under the posts; he converted his own try to open Narberth’s account.
Pembroke then lost Rhys Griffiths to an ankle injury and he was replaced by Stuart Phillips. The rest of the half was dominated by the home side, with powerful runs from forwards Jordan Cornick, Jamie Brayford, Danny James and Evan Phillips; only solid defence from Narberth kept Pembroke’s Jamie Brayford,, Rhys Mainwaring, Jared Sherratt from scoring. The constant pressure resulted on Narberth, eventually yielding a penalty, which young scrum half Jared Sherratt very ably put over to reduce the deficit to four points.
As the first half went on the home pack had gained a degree of dominance at the set piece, but equally Narberth’s lineout expertise was foiling Pembroke on many occasions. The introduction of Pembroke’s backrow terrier Tommy John ten minutes before half time brought dividends, as he had a major impact, with powerful bursts to put his pack and backs onto the front foot. One such drive, just before the break, saw Pembroke’s backs move the ball wide and support from the forwards eventually provided scrum half Sherratt with an opportunity to squeeze in for a try on the blindside; he backed up his own effort with a magnificent conversion from the touchline to give his side the lead by 10-7 at the break.
Pembroke made changes, bringing on Sharpe at hooker for Mainwaring and Morris replacing his injured skipper James in the backrow. Pembroke maintained their dominance at forward in the loose, with Theo Davies, John and Man of the Match Jordan Cornick making huge thrusts into the Narberth lines. The constant pressure yielded another penalty, which Sherratt converted. Narberth responded almost immediately, with their able backs creating a position close to the home line, where big lock Owens was able to crash over to complete an excellent team effort; Rossiter converted to give his side a slender one point lead. Beynon then came on for Briggs for Pembroke.
The home side retaliated and created sustained pressure, but could not penetrate a determined Narberth defensive line. Then with fifteen minutes to go, Narberth prop Norcross crashed his way through a packed defence, Rossiter again added the extras, to extend his side’s lead. Sam Davies came on at scrum half for the home side, after a three year absence due to serious injury, which resulted in a reshuffle in the home backline. Pembroke kept up pressure and Sherratt stepped up to convert another penalty to keep his side in the hunt. However, Narberth were not to be out done and their forwards forged an opportunity for No 8 Hammer to cross for a well crafted try, which Rossiter converted, to end the match and give his side a convincing win by 16-28.
Pembroke’s coaches were delighted with the performances from many of their young players, who gave everything in this tough encounter. Narberth were delighted to have prevailed and paid complement to their opponents, for their never die attitude.
The Tigers are due to play Aberystwyth at home next Saturday, KO 2.30pm. A week later they will travel to St Davids for a special match, where the teams will compete for the “WILLINGTON SLATE TROPHY”, which the clubs play for annually in memory of ex-Pembroke player and fisherman Gareth “Spike” Willington and his son Daniel, who died in a tragic accident at sea off the St David’s coast in April 0f 2016. It is hoped there will be a big turnout, which will allow the Families to raise funds for the Fisherman’s Mission that has been so supportive of the families affected by such loss over many years.
PANTHERS (Senior Women)
The women did not have a match last weekend, but they are due to travel to Swansea to play the West Swansea Hawks on Sunday afternoon, KO 2.30 pm. The coaches are hoping that their players can reproduce the form showed against Piod Pinc, which showed the potential in the squad.
In sunny warm weather, all age groups were really keen to engage in another round of matrix fixtures and round robin events across the County. The coaches reported some excellent performances and mixed results, but that all the youngsters had thoroughly enjoyed their matches. Some of the squads are pictured alongside. The U16s had a particularly entertaining and exciting home tie against Haverfordwest, which they won due to some excellent all round play in the second half.
Congratulations to Mary James, the winner of the September prize of £500. There are still places available for this monthly draw, anyone interested should see Mary James on match days for the mandate forms.
A number of events are now on the horizon, these include a KIDS FANCY DRESS HALLOWEEN PARTY in the clubhouse on the evening of Wednesday October 27, starting at 7 pm; tickets are available from the club steward. An ADULTS FANCY DRESS HALLOWEEN PARTY on Friday October 29, starting at 7 pm, with a live band, tickets available from the steward.
The Ladies Committee are planning a XMAS MARKET, with stalls at the clubhouse for November 28th, starting at 11am.
The 125 Committee, are planning a number of events throughout the year to celebrate our anniversary, some of the dates released include, GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZZES on November 12, January 28 and March 18, all starting at 7pm in the clubhouse, for teams of no more than six. A HORSE RACE NIGHT is planned for February 18th, again starting at 7pm in the clubhouse.
125th ANNIVERSARY POLO SHIRTS
These can now be ordered, they cost £15, a picture and size chart are displayed in the clubhouse and anyone interested should place their order and pay in advance with the club steward.