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 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3