Aberavon 10 Merthyr 15
The Wizards were knocked out of the WRU National Cup by the current holders Merthyr on Friday evening at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
For Aberavon, Liam Popham made just his third start of the season at outside-half, whilst there was a late change that required a shuffle in the back-row ahead of the game.
The home-side had a chance to go ahead in the 14th minute of the game, but a penalty kick by full-back Chris Banfield agonisingly hit the cross bar and bounced back out.
The visitors got on the score-board first when former Wizard Matthew Jarvis kicked a penalty in the 27th minute.
Just ten minutes later Aberavon levelled the scores when Popham kicked the Wizards first points.
In injury time at the end of the half, Aberavon scrum-half Iwan Temblett was yellow carded for an alleged deliberate knock on. It seemed the referee had more patience with the visitors than he did for the home-side as several high tackles throughout the first half just saw the Ironmen players being spoken to time after time.
Half time score, 3 – 3.
Merthyr made use of the extra man right at the start of the second half as wing Lewis Williams went over for the first try of the game with Jarvis adding the extras.
Momentum was now with the visitors and whilst Jarvis missed a penalty in the 65th minute, another former Wizard Jay Baker worked well with Jarvis just five minutes later for the full-back to dive over in the corner.
The try was unconverted, but Merthyr were now 15 – 3 up as the clock read 71 minutes.
Five minutes later it was the turn of the visitors to be reduced to 14 players as number eight Phil Rees was yellow carded, with them being reduced to 13 another five minutes later as Jarvis joined Rees in the sin-bin.
The Wizards took advantage of the sin-binning’s as replacement scrum-half Jacob Flynn scored a try that Popham converted to make the score 15 – 10 to the Ironmen.
Despite it being in injury time, there was another five minutes of play to go.
Aberavon threw everything at Merthyr in the dying minutes, but the Ironmen defended well, and even had a chance to make the game safe with a late penalty. However, replacement Richard Powell uncharacteristically missed a relatively simple kick at goal. But, it did not matter, as time run out for the Wizards.
Final score, 15 – 10 to Merthyr.
The sides meet again at the Talbot Athletic Ground in a fortnight as they face each other in the Principality Premiership.
Aberavon 10 – 15 Merthyr
Chris Banfield; Frankie Jones, Will Price, Rheon James (rep Joe Gage 73 min), Stef Andrews; Liam Popham, Iwan Temblett (rep Jacob Flynn 55 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 63 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 62 min), Geraint James (rep Rhys Henry 63 min), Ben Davies (rep Ben Thomas 60 min, rep Iwan Shenton 73 min), Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (rep Luke Joseph 54 min), Ashton Evans, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).
Frankie Jones, Iwan Temblett, Iwan Shenton, Rhys Henry and Jordan Walters appeared from the Ospreys
T – Jacob Flynn
C – Liam Popham
PG – Liam Popham
T – Lewis Williams, Matthew Jarvis
C – Matthew Jarvis
PG – Matthew Jarvis
Man Of The Match:
1 – Ben Davies
2 – Chris Banfield
3 – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
27 min: Merthyr – PG – Matthew Jarvis (0 – 3)
38 min: Aberavon – PG – Liam Popham (3 – 3)
40+4 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Iwan Temblett
40+6 min: Half Time
41 min: Merthyr – T – Lewis Williams & C – Matthew Jarvis (3 – 10)
51 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Iwan Temblett
71 min: Merthyr – T – Matthew Jarvis (3 – 15)
75 min: Merthyr – Yellow Card – Phil Rees
80 min: Merthyr – Yellow Card – Matthew Jarvis
80+4 min: Aberavon – T – Jacob Flynn & C – Liam Popham (10 – 15)
80+9 min: Merthyr – End Yellow Card – Phil Rees
80+10 min: Full Time