Llandovery 27 - 30 Aberavon
Posted by Gareth Gange on 16/04/2017
(by Paul Williams)
Following their spectacular victory over Pontypridd a week earlier, hopes were high that Aberavon would continue in the same vein at Church Bank. However Llandovery, smarting from three successive heavy defeats on the road, clearly had their own ideas, and produced a dogged display that almost turned the game in the favour. Ultimately, it was Ieuan Davies who emerged from beneath a pile of bodies, having touched down from a driving lineout to snatch a victory that moments earlier looked to have eluded the Wizards.
The Wizards were by far the better side for much of the first half, with Llandovery contributing to their own problems with some dreadful indiscipline that saw a growing penalty-count against them and a brace of yellow cards for lock Bryn Griffiths and prop Greg Cunniffe as referee Simon Rees (Beaufort) sought to eradicate a succession of off-the-ball incidents.
Meanwhile the Wizards were going about their business, with Sam Williams claiming an early try, converted by James Garland. Home fly-half Jack Maynard and Garland then exchanged penalties before man-of-the-match Luke Joseph followed Williams across the line, plunging over wide out for an unconverted try, then Stef Andrews, playing at full-back, used his devastating acceleration to race in at the corner to make the score 20-3 in the Wizards’ favour.
It all looked to be going Aberavon’s way at this stage, with their pack on top and their defence coping admirably with all that Llandovery threw at them, but suddenly the home side seemed to find another gear, and a try either side of half-time, from full-back Mike Evans and wing Aaron Warren, both converted by Maynard, closed the gap to just three points.
A further penalty from Maynard made it 20-20 before Garland kicked another to restore the three-point lead, but the real drama was to come in the dying minutes. Despite a period of intense pressure on the home line the Wizards came away empty-handed after a 5-metre lineout misfired, then play swept up to the other end before the ball was turned over and Garland put in a huge clearance kick before being flattened by a very late challenge from Griffiths, who was given his marching orders for a second yellow-card offence.
Llandovery, however, had their tails up at this stage, and with time running out replacement Jake Baker burrowed his way over amid a pile of bodies to put his side ahead for the first time. Maynard’s conversion made it a four-point lead.
The Wizards, however, were not to be denied. From the restart they worked their way upfield and after first Ben Jones and then Rhys Forse went on rampaging runs into the home ‘22’ the Llandovery defence were forced to concede a penalty to keep their line intact, and Garland put the kick into the corner.
Possession from the lineout was secured, the Aberavon pack set up the maul and slowly, but surely, started to inch towards the try-line, picking up speed steadily until Ieuan Davies crashed over to reclaim the lead, and also the all-important bonus point. Garland again converted to restore with Wizards’ three point lead, and as the clock ran down, it was again Aberavon in control as they took play through phase after phase, keeping possession until time ran out and Jacob Flynn booted the ball off the pitch to bring down the curtain on an absorbing encounter.
Llandovery 27 - 30 Aberavon
Stef Andrews; Jay Baker, Will Price, Joe Thomas, Matthew Jenkins; James Garland, Jacob Flynn; Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Forse 72 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 63 min), Alex Jeffries, Ian Moore (capt) (rep Ben Davies 52 min), Sam Williams (rep Ben Jones half-time), Luke Joseph, Chris Davies, Joe Tomalin-Reeves.
Replacements not used: Steffen Williams, Liam Popham, Rob Dudley-Jones, Rhys Henry.
Joe Thomas, Rowan Jenkins & Alex Jeffries appeared from the Ospreys; Luke Davies from Aberavon Quins RFC; Steffen Williams from Resolven RFC; Rhys Henry from Cwmavon RFC.
T - Sam Williams, Stef Andrews, Luke Joseph, Ieuan Davies
C - James Garland (2)
PG - James Garland (2)
T - Mike Evans, Aaron Warren, Jake Baker
C - Jack Maynard (3)
PG - Jack Maynard (2)
Man Of The Match:
1 - Luke Joseph
2 - Joe Tomalin-Reeves
3 - Jacob Flynn
06 min: Aberavon - T - Sam Williams & C - James Garland (0 - 7)
06 min: Llandovery - Yellow Card - Bryn Griffiths
12 min: Llandovery - PG - Jack Maynard (3 - 7)
16 min: Aberavon - PG - James Garland (3 - 10)
16 min: Llandovery - End Yellow Card - Bryn Griffiths
29 min: Aberavon - T - Stef Andrews (3 - 15)
33 min: Llandovery - Yellow Card - Greg Cunniffe
36 min: Aberavon - T - Luke Joseph (3 - 20)
40 min: Llandovery - T - Mike Evans & C - Jack Maynard (10 - 20)
40+5 min: Half Time
40 min: Llandovery - End Yellow Card - Greg Cunniffe
41 min: Llandovery - T - Aaron Warren & C - Jack Maynard (17 - 20)
50 min: Llandovery - PG - Jack Maynard (20 - 20)
54 min: Aberavon - PG - James Garland (20 - 23)
74 min: Llandovery - Second Yellow Card = Red Card - Bryn Griffiths
78 min: Llandovery - T - Jake Baker & C - Jack Maynard (27 - 23)
80+2 min: Aberavon - T - Ieuan Davies & C - James Garland (27 - 30)
80+6 min: Full Time