Aberavon 15 - 19 Pontypridd
Posted by Gareth Gange on 15/04/2018
(from Howard Evans)
It was a splendid game for a neutral spectator, but for both clubs it was a nail-biter in a match where the wind had a big effect on the play.
The man of the match was certainly Aberavon wing Jay Baker, who was on a different planet to the other players despite very close marking by the Pontypridd side.
When you score a try as did Jay after 68 minutes, it is usually a match-winner and heartacher.
But, Pontypridd never ever lie down and four minutes from time a touch-judge adjudged that wing Alex Webber had got the ball down for his second try and this indeed proved to be the match-winner.
Both head coaches could rue mistakes. Aberavon dropped too many balls and vital passes went astray, while Pontypridd three times threw lineouts straight to the unmarked Rob Dudley-Jones.
But, both sides gave the crowd their moneys-worth though Aberavon were simply not clinical enough.
The Wizards had three youngsters in Rhys Henry, Iwan Temblett and James Ratti who all had splendid games, while Chris Banfield and Rheon James put in a great shift and, as ever, Rowan Jenkins had the beatings of his opponent.
Ponty lead 12-0 early on and then had to recover from a 12-15 deficit. With a good referee, Ian Davies, letting the game run well, it was Ponty who grabbed an early lead through a try by their powerful centre Gary Williams and that lead increased when young fly half Jordan Rees sent Webber in for his first try that Rees converted.
Aberavon skipper James Garland pulled back a penalty before the interval and then the 'Wizards' stormed to the attack with Baker head and shoulders over every other player.
Replacement Jacob Flynn fed the powerful James who burst over for Garland to convert and then Baker suddenly broke from halfway and left all the defenders way behind.
But, Pontypridd were never going to lie down and with the experienced Ceri Sweeney on for Rees, they surged back downfield for Webber to go over as he was tackled and Sweeney converted.
To go up the table next season Aberavon need a few signings in key positions though skipper Garland played well under difficult conditions. He is still a hugely underrated player who will be most necessary to have for several years to come.
Aberavon 15 - 19 Pontypridd
Chris Banfield (rep Joe Gage 79 min); Shaun Pearce, Will Price, Rheon James, Jay Baker; James Garland (capt), Iwan Temblett (rep Jacob Flynn 47 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 73 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 64 min), Rhys Henry (rep Chris Davies 73 min), Ben Thomas (rep Lee Purnell 62 min), Ben Jones, James Ratti, Luke Joseph, Rob Dudley-Jones.
Replacements not used: Stuart Nicholas, Jacob Blackmore.
Jay Baker, Rowan Jenkins, Rhys Henry, James Ratti & Jordan Walters appeared from the Ospreys; Iwan Temblett appeared from Trebanos RFC; Jacob Blackmore appeared from Waunarlwydd RFC; Chris Davies appeared from Penclawdd RFC.
T - Rheon James, Jay Baker
C - James Garland
PG - James Garland
T - Alex Webber (2), Gary Williams
C - Jordan Rees, Ceri Sweeney
Man Of The Match:
1 - Jay Baker
2 - Rheon James
3 - Rob Dudley-Jones
03 min: Pontypridd - T - Gary Williams (0 - 5)
18 min: Pontypridd - T - Alex Webber & C - Jordan Rees (0 - 12)
29 min: Aberavon - PG - James Garland (3 - 12)
31 min: Pontypridd - Yellow Card - Gary Williams
40+1 min: Half Time
40 min: Pontypridd - End Yellow Card - Gary Williams
50 min: Aberavon - T - Rheon James & C - James Garland (10 - 12)
68 min: Aberavon - T - Jay Baker (15 - 12)
76 min: Pontypridd - T - Alex Webber & C - Ceri Sweeney (15 - 19)
80+4 min: Full Time