The DOSC were at the Woodland Road Sports Ground to watch the crunch Division 2 East fixture between Croesyceiliog and Abercarn.
The visitors were flying high in the league coming into this fixture, second in the table despite only being promoted last season - no mean feat. The home side also had form coming into the fixture, having only won one game less than their opponents.
On a cold night in Croesy, the opening minutes were characterised by handling errors from both sides with a number of dropped balls and wayward passes. It was clear that Croesy had the edge in the scrums that followed, and they won a couple of penalties in quick succession which they failed to convert into points through missed kicks at goal. Another sequence of scrums near to their opponent's try line lead to a number of pick and goes, before conceding a penalty for holding on - the result of some resolute defence and good jackling from the Abercarn pack.
Much of the first half was played in the middle third of the field, but with Croesy edging the territory and possession battle. In the latter stages, Abercarn entered the Croesy 22 with a penalty which they kicked to the corner. From the lineout, they executed a set move at the front but frustratingly turned the ball over near the line. The Croesy backs reacted quickly, shifting it wide to their outside backs who nearly went the length of the field before being snagged by an impressive cover tackle from the Abercarn full back. The move broke down and the ref blew his whistle for half time, 0-0.
The first half demonstrated that Croesy had the edge in the scrums and were winning the collisions, both in attack and defence, which was giving them territory and possession, but they would have to work hard to beat an Abercarn side who were defending extremely well and whose lineout was functioning superbly.
The second half saw Croesy turn their possession and territory into points. An early penalty saw them take a 3-0 lead and this was shortly followed by their first try of the evening, a well worked try, with good hands from backs and forwards, putting their outside half over in the corner. The conversion was missed so it remained 8-0.
The Croesy scrum was then rewarded with a pushover try, which was no more than their pack deserved as they were on top in this facet for most of the evening. Another penalty followed to make it 16-0.
It is a credit to Abercarn that despite having little possession, they never let their heads drop, and their tenacity was rewarded in the last ten minutes as they kicked a penalty into the Croesy 22 and executed a catch and drive to make it 16-5. A just reward for their lineout which really did work well on the night.
In the last 5 minutes, Croesy suffered a yellow card, with their lock being sin binned for a daft swing at an Abercarn player right in front of the referee. However, there was little time for Abercarn to capitalise and the ref blew his whistle shortly after to draw a close to what, for this neutral, was an enjoyable and competitive fixture.
Division 3 East Table
The win for Croesyceiliog sees them close the gap on league leaders Pontypool Utd. As you can see from the table, this is an extremely competitive league with 11 points separating the top 6 teams.
The DOSC would like to wish all teams in the league the very best of luck for the season. We look forward to watching another game from around region in the coming weeks.