Preview: Pontypridd v Aberavon

Principality Premiership action returns this weekend as Aberavon (6th – 53 points) travel to Sardis Road on Saturday to take Pontypridd (2nd – 63 points), kick off 5:15pm.

Ponty have won thirteen of their seventeen games this season, with them winning eight of their nine games played at Sardis Road.

They started their season with bonus point wins over Bedwas and Llanelli, before losing to Aberavon (19 – 25) at the Talbot Athletic Ground in the middle of September. They then lost their only home game of the season as RGC 1404 won at Sardis Road.

Ponty then won five on the bounce with wins over Bridgend, Neath, Swansea, Ebbw Vale and Cross Keys – four of the wins were bonus point wins with them scoring over 70 points in their wins over Neath and Cross Keys.

In November, the Sardis Road side lost at Merthyr, but then won their next six games, beating Llandovery, Newport, Carmarthen Quins, Bargoed, Bedwas and Llanelli. Three of the wins were bonus point wins.

In their last league outing, Ponty lost 15 – 34 at Cardiff on New Year’s Day, whilst they beat Bedlinog 50 – 3 in the first round of the WRU National Cup last weekend.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Pontypridd have scored 35.0 points on average per game (ranked top) and 4.8 tries (ranked top). In “defence” they have conceded 19.5 points on average per game (ranked 5th) and 2.4 tries (ranked 5th). Aberavon have scored 24.7 points per game (ranked 7th) and 3.4 tries (ranked 6th), and conceded 19.5 points (ranked 6th) and 2.8 tries (ranked 9th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Pontypridd have met each other 38 times in the Welsh National League with the Ponty leading the series 24 – 13 with 1 game drawn. At Sardis Road, Ponty lead 15 – 2 with 1 game drawn, and have won the last five clashes at the ground.

The last time the Wizards won at the ground was in the second game of the 2011-12 season. It was a top-class Aberavon performance that brought a rare home loss for Pontypridd. In wet conditions, the Wizards were down 6 – 0 after 15 mins having had flanker Darryl Thomas sin-binned and former Ponty captain Nathan Strong helped off after getting a rib injury that would keep him out for a month. Ponty’s points came from the boot of outside half Dean Gunter. Half way through the half the Wizards scored their first try when wing Richard Carter touched down. Two penalties by outside half Jamie Davies put Aberavon ahead 11 – 6 at the interval. It took until the hour mark for the next score to come when Carter scored his second try with Davies adding the extras. Two further penalties by Davies made the final score 24 – 6 to the Wizards.

The Aberavon team that day was: Howard Thomas; Richard Carter, Ben John, Will Price, Richard Thomas (rep Darren Ritchie); Jamie Davies (rep James Donovan), David Pritchard; Lloyd Howell (rep Rowan Jenkins), Marc Breeze, Anthony Edwards (rep Will Taylor), Ian Moore (rep Nathan Brown), Sam Williams, Darryl Thomas (rep Gareth Harvey), Nathan Strong (rep Richard Morris), Chris Davies (capt).

The referee for Saturday’s game is Gwyn Morris, aided by Richard Deacy, Gareth Butler and Mark Jones. TMO is Tim Hayes.

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 18 15 0 3 534 302 76
Cardiff 19 14 1 4 591 395 72
Pontypridd 18 14 0 4 638 338 68
Ebbw Vale 19 14 1 4 411 302 66
Llandovery 19 12 1 6 531 338 61
Newport 19 12 1 6 488 448 59
Aberavon 17 11 1 5 402 355 53
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 17 9 0 8 444 354 50
Carmarthen Quins 19 9 0 10 410 380 47
Swansea 18 9 0 9 419 370 46
Cross Keys 18 5 1 12 397 579 32
Bridgend Ravens 17 5 0 12 326 438 28
Llanelli 19 4 1 14 354 524 25
Bedwas 18 4 1 13 359 545 25
Bargoed 18 3 0 15 344 592 18
Neath 17 1 0 16 282 670 3