Secretary's summary of 2016
The 18th season has seen the league expand to 4 divisions and 41 teams - with 5 new teams joining. Along with existing teams, I hope the newcomers enjoyed the season in a friendly but competitive environment and made new friends along the way. We hope that all clubs can come along to the presentation evening on Friday 11 November at Ponthir Village Hall. In the meantime, the cup/plate finals between Aber Clarets and Caerleon A, and ROF Nomads and Wheatsheaf Eagles, kick off at 10:30 on Saturday 17 September at Talywain. Sunday 2 October sees the end of season Champion of Champions at Rising Sun which kicks off at 10:00 am.
A strong performance throughout the season saw Abergavenny Clarets become Division 1 champions, the first time a team from the Abergavenny club has achieved this distinction. Only 2 defeats and an opening run of 10 games without defeat was enough to edge out runners up Caerleon A. Despite a terrific run of 9 consecutive wins in the middle of the season, Caerleon were unable to sustain an end of season push and 2 wins in the last 8 games meant a runners up place for the second consecutive year. Panteg earned their highest place finish for a number of years and secured a very creditable third place, gaining points in all but 1 game. 2015 champions ROF Nomads had an inconsistent season and will be disappointed with 4th place, with points gained in every game mixed with a record of 7 wins being the joint lowest of the top 6 teams. Caerleon Blues complete the top half of the table in 6th place with a steady accumulation of points throughout the season in all but 2 games. Level on points with their Caerleon Blues colleagues, Caerleon Greens banished any relegation fears with a strong finish of just 1 defeat in the last 8 games - close to the finishing points tally of champions Abergavenny Clarets. Promoted clubs Rising Sun Shunters and Machen Mountaineers consolidated their Division 1 status in 8th and 9th place and avoided the fate of other clubs who were unable to compete at a higher standard. Shunters can be pleased with their season, highlighted with an unbeaten run in their last 6 games. Machen Mountaineers also competed well, particularly in the first half of the season, and were able to accumulate enough points to withstand losing 5 of their last 6 games. The bottom 2 places are occupied by ROF Cannons and Red Lion. After achieving an excellent 3rd place in 2015, the Cannons failed to build on this performance and will be disappointed with a season of only 4 wins and 11 defeats. Red Lion, who narrowly avoided relegation last year, again struggled in the top flight with limited resources. Rooted to the bottom of the table all season, 1 win and 15 defeats tells its own story.
In Division 2, the fight to be champions went down to the last game. Wheatsheaf Eagles clinched the championship with a win over Ponthir and will make a quick return to Division 1, having been relegated last year. Pilcs, with an initial unbeaten run of 11 games, secured runner-up spot and promotion to Division 1. Little Crown didn't quite make a promotion challenge, with 6 draws in the last 7 games pushing them down to third place. Clytha A picked up points regularly through the season and finished in 4th place. The top half of the table is completed by Wheatsheaf Harriers who picked up points in all but 1 game. Machen Legionnaires finished in mid-table with a strong finish of just 1 defeat in their last 7 games. Further down the table, promoted Caerleon Cohort consolidated their Division 2 status with only 1 defeat in their last 7 games. Ponthir had a disappointing season in 8th place, no wins in last 4 games and their lowest finish in the league. Abergavenny Reds occupy one of the bottom 2 places with only 3 wins all season, but will be very encouraged, and perhaps a little frustrated, that 2 of their wins were at home against the 2 promoted sides. Clytha B, promoted last season from Division 3, were the only team in all 4 divisions not to register a win; but 8 draws gives them some encouragement for next season.
In Division 3, Rising Sun Locos became champions with a comfortable 9 point margin, having won 10 of their first 11 games and winning all but 3 of 18. Talywain Tigers just pipped Monmouth for the second promotion spot, finishing with 2 wins after a previous mini slump of 1 win in 6. Monmouth, relegated from Division 2 last season, came very close to a quick return. They may qualify for the unluckiest team having finished in 3rd place, despite beating champions Rising Sun Locos in their last game and losing only twice all season. With only 1 defeat in last 9 games, Talywain Cheetahs climbed to a 4th place finish. Rising Sun Buffers complete the top half of the table, finishing 5th after 4 defeats in first 5 games but losing only once in last 13 games. Halfway Allstars was another team with a strong finish, unbeaten in last 7 games. The Star were unable to convert draws into wins and with only 2 wins could only achieve 7th place. ROF Exiles also struggled and, like the Star, could only gain 2 wins. In the bottom two places, Talywain Cougars and Halfway Allstars Others found wins hard to come by, with Cougars without a win in 7 and Others without a win in 13.
The inaugural Division 4 saw 5 brand new teams make their debut. Pride of place goes to Abergavenny Blues who, with only 2 defeats, became champions and promoted to Division 3. In a tight finish to the season, Clytha C lost the opportunity to be champions but secured promotion in 2nd place, just 2 points behind Abergavenny. Another debutant, Upper Cocks, can also be well pleased with their first season in the league just missing out on promotion but a very creditable 3rd place. Abergavenny Golds occupy 4th place, in a season in which their 10 wins was only bettered by Abergavenny Blues. The top half of the table is completed by Twyn y Ffrwd who, despite 2 defeats in the opening 3 games, showed significant improvement since last season to climb into the top 5 teams. The Sharks showed strong end of season form with 1 defeat in 11, while debutant colleagues Dormice can also be pleased with their efforts which, despite 6 defeats in last 7, also featured 7 wins during the season. White Hart Stags are another team to build on last year's experience, with only 1 defeat in the last 5. Newcomers Caerleon Centurions will be another team to be better for the experience of their first season having finished in the bottom place. Although finding wins hard to come by, they avoided defeat in half of their matches. White Hart Hinds lost 11 of their first 12 games, but stuck to their task to win 2 of their last 6 games.