16 May 2023 / Club News

Bridgend Athletic 3 Dunvant 20

Admiral League – Div 1 West Central


Dunvant secured promotion to the Championship in the sunshine at the Brewery Field. The game was preceded by an exhibition of U8 tag rugby between the Ath and Ogwr Hawks giving the youngsters the great experience of playing at a major stadium.


The Ath supporters showed great apprehension going into the game with 22 players unavailable, Against, a monster Dunvant pack the Ath fielded a back row with young Ryan Neagle making his 1ST XV debut, while on the blindside it was Jacob David’s second 1st XV game of the season. Lock Rhys Heard was playing his 3rd 1ST XV game and prop Matthew Greenman his 11th game of the season, while inspirational captain Ben Howe was out injured. In contrast lock Jon Stoker was playing his 377th senior game, while hooker Ben Owen his 24th game of the season and 52nd Ath game, May player of the Month prop Jacob Perkins was playing his 18th game in his first season out of youth. No 8 Harrison Morgan was playing his 24th game 2022-2023 in his second season of senior rugby and was his usual committed handful throughout the game.


Dunvant had scored 48 points away at Glynneath midweek and needed 3 points to guarantee promotion.


The Ath rose to the occasion with all 17 players used on the day ensuring the result was still in the balance at 3-10 with 5 minutes remaining. Veo analysis of the game also showed what everybody in the stadium except the referee saw that the player scoring the second Dunvant try clearly knocked the ball forward.


The opening 10 minutes belonged to the Athletic where youth centre Rhydian Greenhall in his 4th senior game alongside youth captain Gabe Brown in his sixth senior game was causing the Dunvant defence a lot of problems. Wing Lochie Barron ran strongly from 40 metres out eluding tacklers but was unable to find support available on both the inside and outside 5 metres from the try line when halted. He has also impressed in his first season out of youth with 8 tries from 19 games. Fellow wing Ieuan Evans also showed glimpses of why he is the top try scorer this season with 11 touchdowns, and the only player to play all 26 games and also made his 50th senior Ath appearance.


After 20 minutes outside half Matthew Hobby deservedly put the Ath ahead with a penalty to make him the Ath leading points scorer this season with 87 points. This remained the same until the final move of the half. The Ath was awarded a penalty 5 metres from their try line but made the cardinal sin of missing touch from which they could have closed out the half. Dunvant ran back at the Ath and two uncharacteristic, missed tackles added to the drama as Dunvant scored an unconverted try to lead 5-3 at half time.


10 minutes into the 2nd half came the misfortune for the Ath of a clear knock on leading to the second Dunvant try. Unfortunately, with linesmen unable to interfere the try stood to the vocal dismay of the crowd and Ath coaches.


The Ath was enjoying territory but despite experienced scrum half and captain for the day Aled Thomas (225 Ath senior Apps, 37 tries) injecting pace into the game with quick tapped penalties the inexperience told with effort failing to turn into points. Full back Geraint Roberts ran back at Dunvant at every opportunity. Replacements prop Rhodri Apsee and youth outside half McKenzie Grey came on as second half replacements.


Dunvant’s experience and physical advantage took its toll in the last 5 minutes. Firstly, they drove a 5-metre lineout over the Ath line and then crossed for a bonus point try in the corner in the closing minute.


Ath head coach John Apsee was full of praise for the effort of all the Ath players.


The Ath have been unable to put together the same side consecutively this season. 3 players moved to Australia and a series of injuries saw the team field 54 players during the is understood past regulars Sean Williams, Ben Davies and Rhys Ward Jones will be returning next season to add the missing experience to hopefully turn narrow losing point games into victories. The Ath have shown they can play with great spirit and gave good accounts of themselves against both Champions Bonymaen and likely runners up Dunvant.


Next season the same coaches John Apsee, Gerald Williams, David Williams & Nathan Holman, along with team manager Paul Hearne will be on board.


However, after 40 years as Press Officer I announced a few months ago that I am retiring from the role following this match and covering the Presentation Night on June 3rd. It has been a roller coaster over the years with many highs and lows and I am sure the Ath will be challenging at the top end of Div 1 West Central next season, and my successor will have many more highs than lows to report. Also, thanks to photographer John Canon who has worked alongside me these last few seasons providing action match pics of the highest quality,



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