Preview: Aberavon v Ebbw Vale

Aberavon (5th – 46 points) welcome Ebbw Vale (4th – 51 points) to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the Principality Premiership this coming Saturday, kick off 2:30pm.

The Steelmen have won eleven of their fifteen games this season, with them winning four of their six games played away from Eugene Cross Park.

Ebbw Vale had a storming start to their season as they won their first seven games, seeing off Llanelli, Aberavon (19 – 17), RGC 1404, Bridgend, Neath, Swansea and Cross Keys. They picked up bonus points in their wins over Llanelli, Swansea and Cross Keys.

The Gwent side then lost four straight as they went down to Pontypridd, Merthyr, Llandovery and Newport. They did pick up losing bonus points in three of the losses.

Ebbw then got back to winning ways as they have won their last four games, seeing off Carmarthen Quins, Bargoed, Cardiff and, last weekend, Llanelli. They picked up a bonus point in their win over Bargoed.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Ebbw Vale have scored 21.2 points on average per game (ranked 10th) and 2.5 tries (ranked 12th). In “defence” they have conceded 15.7 points on average per game (ranked top) and 1.8 tries (ranked top). Aberavon have scored 24.6 points per game (ranked 6th) and 3.4 tries (ranked 6th), and conceded 20.1 points (ranked 8th) and 2.8 tries (ranked joint 8th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Ebbw Vale have met each other 32 times in the Welsh National League with the series tied on 16 wins each. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, the Wizards lead 11 – 4, and won when the sides last met at the ground two seasons ago.

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground during the 2006-7 season, the Wizards outscored the then league leaders 5 – 3 on try count to run out 39 – 19 winners. However, there was never a 20-point difference in the two sides, though Aberavon were more than willing to play running rugby and Scarlets under-20 centre Richard Thomas was outstanding with a two-try contribution. Both packs had their moments with Richard Morris searching for a club record-breaking 126th try and Ian Moore and Darryl Thomas supporting to the hilt, yet the Ebbw Vale back-row of John Bowd, Hywel Jenkins and skipper Craig Cleaver never yielded. Darren Ryan, Jamie Davies and Liam Gadd also scored tries for the Wizards while Davies kicked 14 points with the boot. For the Steelmen, tries were scored by Simon Hunt, Rhodri Dicks and Andrew Bevan, whilst David Langdon converted two tries.

The Wizards team that day was: Liam Gadd; Richard Carter, Richard Thomas (rep Paul Bamsey), Darren Ryan, James Pike; Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Mike Harris, Chris Wells, James Jones (rep Lloyd Howell), Paul Morgan (rep Andrew Fisher), Chris Gittins (capt), Ian Moore, Richard Morris, Darryl Thomas (rep Simon Peters).

The referee for Saturday’s game is Mike English, aided by Simon Mills and Nathan Davies.

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 23 18 0 5 651 393 91
Cardiff 23 18 1 4 696 469 89
Pontypridd 21 16 0 5 730 374 79
Llandovery 24 16 1 7 652 408 79
Newport 25 15 2 8 629 551 77
Ebbw Vale 24 16 1 7 541 423 76
Aberavon 22 14 2 6 485 415 69
Swansea 24 13 0 11 537 451 65
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 22 11 1 10 552 456 64
Carmarthen Quins 24 10 1 13 488 454 56
Bedwas 24 8 1 15 515 667 43
Bridgend Ravens 22 8 0 14 427 517 43
Llanelli 24 6 1 17 450 620 35
Cross Keys 22 5 1 16 452 681 34
Bargoed 23 4 0 19 400 756 22
Neath 23 1 0 22 335 905 3