FERA PACK DO THE BUSINESS TO EARN PROMOTION
YSTALYFERA have been promoted to the WRU National Championship after overcoming Felinfoel in a playoff over two legs.
The One West Central champions led 34-28 after the first leg at the Ynysydarren Ground last Tuesday and then went on to seal the deal 3020 in the second leg last Sunday for a 64-48 aggregate victory.
Wing Bowdy Davies, captain Steffan Jones and flanker Ben Williams scored Fera’s tries in the second leg, with full-back Steffan Castle converting all three as well as kicking two penalties. Outside-half and coach Gareth James landed a drop-goal.
Jonathan Bayliss scored twice in the first game, with James and Luc Caines also going over. Castle kicked 14 points.
For Felinfoel, wing Eray Wilson was at the double in the second leg, with other wing Elliot Dawe also scoring a try. Outside-half Aled Roberts kicked the other five points.
Roberts had helped himself to 23 of his side’s 28 points in the first leg, landing seven penalties as well as a conversion to Rhys Evans’s try.
With a league title and now promotion in the bag, Ystalyfera still have two cup finals to look forward to.
First up is the Glamorgan County Silver Ball final against Nantyffyllon at the Brewery Field in Bridgend on Saturday, followed by the West Wales Cup final against Glynneath at Ystradgynlais RFC a week tomorrow (May 23).
“It has been a long hard season, but we’re immensely proud that the boys have achieved it,” said Ystalyfera vice-chairman David Carter on winning promotion. “We were dominant on the park in the first game, scoring four tries, but Felinfoel kicked seven penalties that kept them in it.
“But then in the second game it was end-to-end stuff, with the lead changing hands, but then in the second half our strength really came through with our forwards dominating the ball.
“In the end we were deserved winners.
“We’ve had five seasons through our history where we’ve been champions but it could be said that this one, given the level it’s been achieved at, and with the extra chance of two cups as well, could be our most glorious.”
Meanwhile for back-to-back One West winners Felinfoel, it was once again a case of so near, yet so far. It comes 12 months after they suffered play-off heartache against Maesteg Quins.
There was also an emotional farewell to outgoing head coach Mike King, who has decided to step down after two title-winning seasons in charge.
On their play-off defeat, King said: “I honestly felt we were better prepared this year, but in fairness to Ys
talyfera, their pack of forwards controlled things really well in the second game.
“We were 20-10 up to go ahead on aggregate and I thought we could have kicked on from there, but unfortunately they just closed the game down.
“We were beaten up front and their half-backs were extremely good.
“It’s disappointing but I don’t think we can let it spoil the season.
“To win two titles is club history, that can never be taken away from this group of players.
“They are a credit to Division One West and, more importantly, are a credit to themselves and the club. But I feel, as a coach, I’ve taken them as far as I can.
“The ovation I had was great, I had a tear in my eye. The supporters clapped me off, the players gave me a guard of honour walking off and I can’t ask for more than that.”
On his decision to step down at Felinfoel, King said: “I’ve had two great years there and I couldn’t have wished for a better club, they’re a tremendous community club.
“But I just felt it was time to take a little step back, maybe take a year out and spend a bit of time at home more than anything.
“My son Rhodri was recently capped with Wales Under-18s and he’s hopefully going to move into the semi-pro game. My other son Ryan captained the Scarlets Combined Under-16s and I’ve got a little one on the way as well.
“So I’ve just decided to take a bit of time out and enjoy it and we’ll see what happens down the line.”
New Dock Stars’ Keiran Jones moves in on Nantgaredig’s Rhys Schiavone on Saturday. Pic: Phil Davies
Dafydd Lewis of Nantgaredig dives in to score a try in Nant’s 68-13 home win against New Dock Stars on Saturday. After the game Nant were presented with their trophy for winning this year’s Three West B title by Chris Jones of the WRU. They have one league game left to play this season, away to Betws this Saturday, but they lead second-placed Amman United by 20 points, having won every single one of their 21 league fixtures to date.