Preview: Llandovery v Aberavon

Aberavon (6th – 88 points) play their last game of the season this Saturday afternoon when they travel to Church Bank to take on Llandovery (4th – 99 points) in a re-arranged Principality Premiership match, kick off 2:30pm.

Saturday will also be the Drovers last game of the season with them winning twenty and drawing one of their previous twenty-nine games. At home, they have won twelve of their fourteen games.

Llandovery have had a strong season. They won seven of their opening thirteen Premiership fixtures with them seeing off Bargoed, Cardiff, Bedwas, Llanelli, Neath, Swansea and Ebbw Vale, but losing to Aberavon (26 – 31), RGC 1404, Bridgend, Pontypridd, Merthyr and Cross Keys. They did pick up try bonus points in their games against Bargoed, Bedwas, Llanelli, Aberavon and Neath, and losing bonus points against Aberavon, Bridgend and Pontypridd.

Between early December and early February, Llandovery played seven games without loss as they won six and drew one. They beat Newport, Bargoed, Carmarthen, Bedwas, Llanelli and RGC 1404, and drew with Cardiff. Four try bonus points were picked up in their games against Newport, Cardiff, Bedwas and RGC.

In the middle of February, the Drovers lost when Bridgend completed the double over them with the Ravens winning 19 – 10 at Church Bank.

Llandovery then won seven straight as they beat Neath, Swansea, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, Cross Keys, Merthyr and Carmarthen. Four were bonus point wins (Neath, Ponty, Keys and Merthyr).

In their last outing, last weekend, Llandovery lost 22 – 33 at Newport but did pick up a try bonus point in the process.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Llandovery have scored 28.4 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.7 tries (ranked 5th). In “defence” they have conceded 18.1 points on average per game (ranked top) and 2.2 tries (ranked top). Aberavon have scored 23.2 points per game (ranked 8th) and 3.2 tries (ranked 7th), and conceded 19.7 points (ranked 5th) and 2.7 tries (ranked 7th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Llandovery have met each other 47 times in the Welsh National League, including playoffs, with the Wizards leading the series 30 – 15 with 2 games drawn. At Church Bank, Aberavon lead 12 – 10 with 1 game drawn, but the Drovers won when the sides met twice at the ground last season.

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in October 2010, things weren’t looking good for Aberavon at the interval after they found themselves losing 6 – 13 and facing the prospect of playing a second half into the strong wind. The Wizards started well and were ahead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two penalties by Matthew Jarvis. Former Wizard Cerith Rees kicked two penalties of his own for Llandovery to tie the game before a Nio Aiono try, converted by Rees, gave the Drovers a seven-point lead at the interval.

However, the Wizards came out after the interval and immediately turned up the tempo. The young midfield trio of Jarvis, Ashley Beck and Ben John combined well, and a policy of running the ball at every opportunity into the wind began to pay off. In a seven-minute spell, the Wizards scored three tries when first David Pritchard, then Neil White, then Ricky Thomas all touched down. Jarvis converted all three to give Aberavon a fourteen-point lead. Rees kicked a penalty for the home side on the hour mark, but the Wizards had the last score when Richard Carter scored a try. Jarvis added the extras to make the final score 34 – 16 to Aberavon.

The Wizards team that day was: Ricky Thomas; Richard Carter, Ben John, Ashley Beck, Richard Thomas; Matthew Jarvis (rep Jamie Davies), David Pritchard (rep Andrew Jenkins); Neil White (rep Lloyd Howell), Christian Richards (rep Gareth Harvey), Anthony Edwards (rep Craig Cross), Richard Morris (rep Nathan Strong), Gavin Ronan (rep Sam Williams), James King, Tom Smith, Chris Davies (capt).

The referee for Saturday’s game is Elfyn Morris-Roberts, aided by Aled Liddington and Colin Kirkhouse.

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