Gwent rugby round-up

BLAENAU Gwent claimed their second home league win of the season in the WRU Women’s League, defeating local rivals Blackwood 41-3 and running in seven tries in the process at the Kay Field in Crumlin.

Both teams are undergoing some transitional changes at present with Blackwood losing players to the newly formed Penallta and Blaenau Gwent bringing in new faces from the now defunct Cross Keys side.

With both teams willing to run with the ball from the off, there was no surprise when the hosts’ Lauren Lewis broke through some weak tackling to cross under the posts following a 35-metre burst.

Kim Bowler then doubled Blaenau’s advantage before Blackwood had Verity Worthington sin-binned following persistent infringements from the visitors.

Mandy Tyler then followed Worthington off for ten minutes for a similar offence, Vicky Bennett kicking the resultant penalty to reduce the arrears to seven at the interval.

The hosts introduced former Wales international Melanie Whitlock to the fray and immediately turned the screw in the second period, Megan York going under the posts for the first of her hat trick of tries, Emily James converting.

York soon added to her tally following a powerful run that saw her crash over in the corner.

Blaenau then saw veteran flanker Whitlock sin-binned after previously receiving a warning from the referee.

Blackwood continued with their expansive running game, but York took advantage of a handling error to again cross following an exceptional run from deep.

Bowler and the impressive Becky Chivers grabbed tries late on, both converted by James to give the scoreline an emphatic look.

Brynmawr 6 Abertillery 16 – For the third consecutive week, there was drama late on in a Green & Whites game.

This hard-fought derby seemed destined for a draw but Tillery’s late waves of assaults snatched the spoils when Craig Meredith burst over under the posts from a ruck for a converted try four minutes from time.

Shaun Connor added a penalty with the game’s last action to deprive Brynmawr a bonus point.

The home side came into the game in buoyant mood after two excellent league victories including a Lazarus-like comeback at Abercarn.

And that confidence showed in the opening 20 minutes when they played the better rugby. With the breakdown fiercely contested, the game lacked any real fluency with the referee’s whistle dominating.

Brynmawr got the score their deserved with a penalty and they might have expected to build on that when Tillery captain Luke Pegler was yellow carded for a tap down.

But their No 8 was also sin-binned and Tillery levelled matters just before the interval when Daniel Haile, temporarily at scrum half in Pegler’s absence, kicked a penalty.

Tillery edged the territorial battle after the break with Matthew Phelps and Kyle Griffiths prominent and Haile put his side ahead for the first time with a second penalty.

Brynmawr were increasingly using their replacement Faletau in the loose and as Griffiths stopped him on the charge, the No 8 was sin-binned for what seemed an innocuous offence.

The hosts landed the penalty and the game seemed to swing their way as Crandon was also binned.

Down to six men, Tillery’s scrum nevertheless held its own and the line remained intact although it took a great Stevens’ tackle to keep the hosts at bay.

Restored to 15, Tillery amassed late attacks as Brynmawr suffered a second yellow at the hands of the referee.

Berry and Matthew Phelps made excellent charges before a wonderful sniping Pegler break set up the ruck for the decisive Meredith try to win the day.

Chepstow 19 Cwmbran 31 – Cwmbran secured their third successive bonus point in as many weeks but this time the points came via an excellent away win.

With well over 16 players injured or unavailable the young Crows team had to re-shuffle the first fifteen and cancel the athletic game on Saturday.

Cwmbran did as they did against Blaenavon the previous week, on the ascendancy, and attacking at every opportunity, outplaying their much bigger and heavier opponents.

Captained on the day by Micky Witts, Cwmbran thrived on the quick ball supplied by their pack, with hooker Micky Blake and No 8 Mike Lang having outstanding games.

After half an hour the visitors were 21-0 up, scoring deserved tries by Martin Ellis, Aaron James and Mike Lang with full back Mike Davies converting all three.

Gradually, however, the heavier Chepstow forwards got more into the game, pressurising the Cwmbran scrum and driving all the lineouts but it was Cwmbran who played all the rugby.

As the interval approached, Chepstow scored a hat trick of tries, all close range forward drives and two of which were converted.

Mike Davies kept Cwmbran’s noses in front by kicking a penalty for a 24-19 half-time lead.

Despite the Crows being down to 14 men early second half by virtue of a yellow card, their defence was stonewall, completely shutting out every attack.

Mike Lang scored Cwmbran’s final converted try to secure five points.

On Saturday Cwmbran are home to Caldicot.

Risca 26 Newport HSOB 21 – Lloyd Mellon put in a fine display of kicking, landing four penalties and two conversions to take Risca up to second in the league after three wins on the bounce.

The return of Owain Biddiscombe at No 10 saw Ben Farley go to full back and Nick Davenport was retained in the No 8 shirt after an outstanding game the Saturday before.

Within the first minute the Old Boys were penalised and Mellon put his first penalty over from 35 metres.

The visitors came straight into the game with some powerful rugby up front and lots of running behind.

Risca’s defence was working overtime to keep them out but the Old Boys got a well deserved try after nine minutes, the conversion failing.

It was Risca who dominated the next 20 minutes with powerful running by Layton Burrows and Rhys Meredith causing lots of problems.

The under pressure Old Boys conceded penalties at 18 minutes and 24 minutes, both converted by Mellon, before they hit back with another unconverted try.

Risca struck straight back with Meredith creating a large hole, Crandon in support put Owain Cooper in under the post for Mellon to take the extras.

Two minutes later, on the stroke of half-time, another excellent try by the Old Boys was converted.

With the game on a knife edge, Risca led 16-15 at the break.

Immediately after the interval the Old Boys were penalised 45m out and Mellon kicked his fourth penalty.

The Old Boys replied with a good penalty of their own before excellent running by Meredith and Burrows took Risca into their 22.

Ben Farley came into the line and crashed over for a fine try, converted by Mellon.

Some excellent line kicking by Adam Price and Biddiscombe kept the Old Boys at bay but in the last minute they kicked another penalty to secure a losing bonus point.

The large crowd gave both teams a standing ovation after an excellent game of rugby.

Risca’s man of the match was Mellon. On Saturday Risca travel to Croesyceiliog.

YNYSDDU 16 OAKDALE 11 – After two defeats, Ynysddu got their season back on track by beating their previously undefeated local rivals.

Like most local derbies, no quarter was given and 100 per cent effort and enthusiasm seemed to be the order of the day.

Ynysddu’s Browne was first to score with a penalty from the ten-yard line.

But it wasn’t long before Oakdale were level with a penalty of their own.

And it was Oakdale who scored next with a penalty which looked to be taking them into half-time with the lead only for Browne to add another penalty to make it all square at the interval.

Both sides tried throwing everything at each other in the early stages of the second half and it was from a breakdown Oakdale won possession and spun the ball out to winger Smith who outstripped the Ynysddu defence to score in the corner.

A hard physical game saw its share of injuries and two yellow cards were given to both sides were for persistent infringements.

Aaron Morgan in the Ynysddu boiler house refused to go off even with a nasty gash to his head, he was determined the home eight would get their side back into the game.

With the their pack getting on top, scrum half Williams beat two would-be tacklers and carried another three over the line with him to score a try which Browne converted. He added another penalty before the last passage of play was Oakdale’s fans erupt with joy when they thought they had scored a try to level the scores.

But the referee penalised them for a double movement and the home side held on to win.

West Mon are enjoying an encouraging start to their Division Seven campaign, winning two of their three games played to date. The one disappointment was the opening game against Cathays who, before a large crowd at the Skew Fields, defeated the home side by 18-12. Tries for West Mon scored by Deri King and Daniel Duke ensured a losing bonus point.

The second game saw West Mon secure a convincing bonus point victory against local rivals Abersychan who were defeated 33-7.

Flying winger King was in fine form scoring three tries and four conversions for a personal haul of 23 points. Other scores came from Craig Buffin and the evergreen Duane Gardener.

The most recent victory was at home to Old Tylerians, a side that West Mon has played more than any other during its 63-year history.

The 19-0 win sounds convincing but it was a labouring performance by the home team who failed to hit the highs of the previous week despite an outstanding performance by scrum half Lewis Edwards who continues to grow in stature with every game.

Tries scored by Duke, Matthew Morgan and Matt James plus two Buffin conversions were enough to secure the win over stubborn opponents.

Bettws travelled to Caerleon looking for their first away victory of the season.

In the opening 15 minutes Bettws were well on top, only good defence denying them an opening try.

The visitors were then reduced to 14 men after a yellow card for a high tackle before going down to 13 after a front row forward was red carded following a mass brawl.

Bettws’ forwards were still the dominant force with veteran Chris Harris and Dai Rigden carrying the ball to great effect, resulting in them opening the scoring through a Marcello Anderson penalty.

They continued to dominate possession, Phil Norville and Jimmy Corten causing the hosts countless problems before losing their influential No 8 Dai Rigden with a nasty hand injury.

Bettws went into the break 3-0 up and the second half started much as the first 40 had ended with them well on top. They were reduced to 13 men again after a second forward was sent off after another dust up.

The remaining six Bettws forwards, led by Kyle Williams and youngsters Richie Tuck and Gary Burrows, held firm and they scored the opening try after good work by Mikey Thomes and Lewis Clayden saw Anthony Matthews score near the posts, Anderson converting.

Caerleon then put Bettws under severe pressure only to be thwarted by great defence led by the outstanding Craig Currie to keep the hosts at bay.

Bettws were then reduced to 12 men for the final ten minutes but held out until the final play when Caerleon scored a converted try.

It was a victory against all the odds and everyone did Bettws proud as they won 10-7.

The club celebrated a double victory with the Seconds defeating Rogerstone 54-17.

The try scorers were Ryan Bradford (2), Kevin Drew, Nigel Williams, JJ Whitehead, Rhys Clarke, Ryan Draper and Luke Stannard. The next fixtures see the Firsts face Llanhilleth at home and the Seconds away at Deri.

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