ABERAVON 13 NEWPORT 13
(by Howard Evans)
An amazing game saw Aberavon play 63 minutes with 14 men, but still salvage a draw.
Hooker Ieuan Davies saw red after a huge brawl in the 29th minute with many players involved.
While they were all scrapping, wing Duan Thomas was scoring to put Newport 13-7 ahead and referee Dewi Phillips totally missed the incident.
It all meant a debut for 39-year-old Craig Hawkins, who was in the squad on loan from Dunvant, as Aberavon were missing two of their three hookers.
Hawkins played well and ‘scored’ in the second half, as did Newport’s Tom Pascoe, but the referee was first too slow to see Hawkins go over and then gave the Pascoe try only to be overruled several minutes later by a touch-judge.
The match was totally disjointed with the official’s decisions bewildering both teams and Newport losing scrum half Ryan James and flanker Josh Skinner to yellow cards.
Aberavon centre Will Price scored after two minutes when Jonny Phillips, returning from injury, made a superb break and though tackled, the ball came back to Price who raced over for James Garland to convert.
Newport, coached by former Aberavon backs coach Craig Warlow, came back through a Matt O’Brien penalty and then full back David Richards showed good soccer ability to gain a fine opportunist try.
Luckily, O’Brien, for a change, did not have his kicking boots on and missed the conversion and two penalties while Aberavon had to replace the limping Phillips with scrum half Rhodri Cole going to wing.
Then came a Newport attack that saw wing Thomas score, but in the centre of the field the fight was taking place. Hooker Davies left and ‘The Ripper, aka Craig Hawkins, came on.
Play was certainly warming up, yet the only further score of the half was a Garland penalty after 33 minutes.
The second half was dominated by Aberavon, but the Newport defence would not yield, even though the ‘Wizards’ front row dominated.
Pascoe looked to have won it, but he was eventually penalised and after 74 minutes Garland place another penalty to level the scores.
Jason Hyatt commented: “I was proud of the players, particularly the youngsters, who battled well.
“I thought we had most of the play and we knew that Craig always keeps himself very fit.”
Hawkins himself admitted: “No, I never thought I would have to play so long, but I enjoyed it and would be glad to play again. I scored on my debut, but the official never saw it!”
Cole again showed loads of effort and Joe Tomalin-Reeves battled hard, but at the end of the day, a draw may have been a fair result.
Aberavon 13 – 13 Newport
Chris Banfield; Shaun Pearce, Will Price, Rheon James (rep Joe Gage 64 min), Jonathan Phillips (rep Rhodri Cole 9 min); James Garland (capt), Iwan Temblett (rep Lee Purnell 64 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Forse 75 min), Ieuan Davies, Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 64 min), Rhodri Hughes, Sam Williams (rep Ben Mayers-Davies 64 min), Ashton Evans (rep Craig Hawkins 29 min), Andrew Waite, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (rep Iwan Shenton 72 min).
Iwan Temblett, Iwan Shenton appeared from the Ospreys; Craig Hawkins appeared from Dunvant RFC.
T – Will Price
C – James Garland
PG – James Garland (2)
T – Dai Richards, Duan Thomas
PG – Matt O’Brien
Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Rhodri Hughes
02 min: Aberavon – T – Will Price & C – James Garland (7 – 0)
08 min: Newport – PG – Matt O’Brien (7 – 3)
15 min: Newport – T – Dai Richards (7 – 8)
26 min: Newport – T – Duan Thomas (7 – 13)
26 min: Aberavon – Red Card – Ieaun Davies
33 min: Aberavon – PG – James Garland (10 – 13)
37 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Ryan James
40+2 min: Half Time
48 min: Newport – End Yellow Card – Ryan James
51 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Josh Skinner
63 min: Newport – End Yellow Card – Josh Skinner
74 min: Aberavon – PG – James Garland (13 – 13)
80+7 min: Full Time