Preview: Aberavon v Merthyr (Cup)

The WRU National Cup begins this Friday with Aberavon taking on fellow Principality Premiership side Merthyr at the Talbot Athletic Ground in the first round of the competition, kick off 7:30pm.

The sides met at The Wern back in September with the Wizards winning 22 – 14. Aberavon scored three tries through Luke Davies, Andrew Waite and Jacob Flynn. Steffen Williams kicked two conversions and Chris Banfield kicked a penalty. For the Ironmen, Kyle Evans and Jay Baker scored tries with Matthew Jarvis kicking two conversions.

In the Principality Premiership, Merthyr are currently top having won fourteen of their seventeen games. Their only losses have come against Aberavon, Newport and Cardiff – all at The Wern.

Aberavon and Merthyr have met each other twice before in the Cup with the Wizards winning on both occasions. The first Cup tie was in the fifth round of the Principality Cup in 2000-01. The Ironmen visited the Talbot Athletic Ground in early December with the Wizards completely shutting out their fellow Division One side in a 34 – 0 victory. Aberavon scored three first half tries as Ian Jones, Jamie Davies and Lee Abdul all touched down. Davies kicked two conversions and a penalty. In the second half, the Wizards scored two more tries as Barry Maddocks and Shane McIntosh both scored with Paul Morgan kicking one conversion.

The Aberavon team that day was: Ian Jones; Sam Greenaway, Paul Morgan, Barry Maddocks, Lee Abdul; Jamie Davies (rep Shane McIntosh), Daniel Hawkins (capt) (rep Richard Harris); Mike Harris (rep Lloyd Howell), Jon Owen, Greg Dix, Dafydd Owen (rep Ian Strang), Steve Rees, Andrew Thomas, Richard Morris (rep Natano Tiatia), Howard Merrett (rep Dan McShane).

The sides last met in the Cup in round four of the Konica Minolta Cup in the 2003-04 season, with the game being played on a wet and windy Boxing Day at the Talbot Athletic Ground. The Premier Division Wizards beat the Division Two East Ironmen 43 – 15, but only led 7 – 6 at half time. Aberavon scored seven tries in total with Greg Dix, Darren Ryan, Matthew Bradley, Daniel Hawkins, Sam Greenaway, Jamie Davies and Richard Lewis the try scorers. Davies converted four of the tries. For Merthyr, Rhys Miles scored a try that was converted by Jason Price, with Wayne Booth kicking two penalties.

The Aberavon team that day was: Aled James (rep David Hawkins); Sam Greenaway, Richard Lewis, Darren Ryan (rep Paul Morgan 65), Ricky Price; Jamie Davies, Mark Davies (rep Daniel Hawkins); Greg Dix (rep Mike Harris), Jon Owen (rep James Jones), Paul Breeze (rep Mark Thomas), Dafydd Owen, Chris Gittins, Jamie Summers, Richard Morris, Steffan Edwards (rep Matthew Bradley).

The referee for Friday’s game is Gareth John, aided by Simon Mills, Jamie Morgan and Richard Hughes. TMO is Jon Mason.

The full draw of the 1st Round of the WRU National Cup:

Aberavon v Merthyr
Bedlinog v Pontypridd
Carmarthen v Ebbw Vale
Llandovery v Beddau
Newcastle Emlyn v Bargoed
Newport v RGC 1404
Pontypool v Neath
Rhydyfelin v Bedwas
Swansea v Narberth
Tata Steel v Cardiff
Trebanos v Maesteg Quins
Ystrad Rhondda v Llanelli

Byes: Cardiff Met, Newbridge, Bridgend, Cross Keys.

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