Gwernyfed welcomed old rivals Briton Ferry to a damp Trefecca Road in the second round of the cup.
GWERNFYED 20 - BRITON FERRY 10
WRU DIVISION 4 CUP
REPORT BY PETER WEAVERS
In spite of very sticky conditions both sides produced a very hard-fought and entertaining game which was only settled in the very last play.
Ferry, who have had a very good season so far and took the field with an obvious weight advantage up front, were very confident.
The visitors were backed up by a very large travelling contingent who almost out-numbered the home supporters.
However, the lighter home side edged the scrums with good technique and faired equally well in the line-out.
The early exchanges unsettled the away side as their close driving play by their large forwards was met with a rock solid defence marshalled by back row men Sam Stephens, Kyle Davies and Sam Clegg.
It was Gwernyfed who controlled the game and on 20 minutes youngster Clegg gathered a knock-on some 70 yards out, stepped his man and sprinted clear of the defence to touch down for an outstanding converted try.
After a skirmish the away side saw a man in the bin after some back chat. The home side benefited and were next on the scoresheet as full back Scott Pritchard calmly slotted the 3 points for a 10-point lead.
Fly half Gareth Dodd cleverly grubbed through a ball over the line but centre Will Powell was correctly adjudged by the referee Khalid Falvey, who had an excellent game, to have not touched down the bobbling ball correctly.
Turning round, Ferry came out much the stronger and controlled much of the second half, winning plenty of ball and using their heavy pack to good effect.
They were met with an iron defence from every man in the green, white and black. Second rows Norris and Eckley got through immense work and plaudits must be given to the front row of Brute, Joe Jones and Craig Parry who not only repelled their opponents in the scrum but also in the loose.
Gwernyfed’s defence held firm for half an hour but on 70 minutes they gave away a penalty duly converted. With the knowledge of a converted try being enough for the away side to go through, and with the vociferous travelling support, the atmosphere was electric, Ferry threw all that they had at Gwernyfed and finally breached the home defence for a try wide out. The conversion was difficult but registered. With the score tied at 10 all, the away side was going through.
Behind the posts skipper Stephens rallied his men for one final push. From the kick off the ball was won, a few drives orchestrated by the excellent scrum half Luke Eckley followed and an indiscretion at the breakdown saw full back Pritchard aim for goal. The home side were delighted to see the penalty landed successfully, taking the lead 13-10 as the game headed into injury time.
Two minutes to go and in a final play Ferry gathered the ball but Gwernyfed outside half and man of the match Gareth Dodd, quick on his opposite number, intercepted the ball inside his own half and sprinted clear to score under the posts, the Trefecca Road supporters roaring him on. With the score converted the game ended in a fantastic 20-10 victory to Gwernyfed.
The whole squad were outstanding in their commitment and the game will be one that will be remembered. Briton Ferry played their part as a “real cup rugby afternoon” was cemented in the bar with reminisces of the older members of both clubs back in their Neath and District days. A proper day of Welsh club rugby.
Meanwhile, Gwernyfed Athletic entertained Bedwas Barbarians in a boisterous game, with the visitors running out winners by 26 points to 5. The big Bedwas pack dominated the first half and, while the home team’s defensive resilience was again on display, the visitors had obtained a bonus point fourth try by half time, although the final score of the first half was an unconverted try by Gwernyfed’s hooker Owen Workman. The scoreless second half was a much more even contest, as the visitors tired allied to much of their focus being on expressing their dissatisfaction with the referee, leading to three yellow cards and numerous penalties.
With regular games throughout the season in the Dragons Athletic League, the newly re-established Gwernyfed Athletic is going from strength to strength, with numbers attending training and being available on Saturdays both indicating the enthusiasm that is being engendered.