by Marina Gange
Aberavon completed their pre-season campaign with an encouraging 40-29 victory over Llandovery in a free-flowing match at Church Bank.
It looked set to be a difficult afternoon for The Wizards as the home side started the match strongly, dominating the early encounters and scoring two tries in the first fifteen minutes.
Aberavon hit back with an interception try from centre Chay Smith, the conversion hitting the post. Outside half Aled Thomas would finish the match with five out of six conversions on a tricky afternoon for goalkickers.
The Drovers responded with a try of their own, breaking through The Wizards midfield defence to score in the corner, but Aberavon were then able to mount several phases of possession, earning a penalty kick to the corner and from the resulting drive, the ever-present Lee Purnell went over from close range.
The phase play continued, earning The Wizards several penalties, and finally, Andrew Waite, seeing the space in front of him, cleverly took a quick tap penalty and went over for the try.
Llandovery responded immediately with a try of their own from a well-gathered up and under but then lost a player to the sin bin right before half-time. The Wizards piled on the pressure again but were held up over the line. The halftime score was Llandovery 24, Aberavon 19.
The second half started in much the same vein. A lovely break from Lloyd Evans saw him cross for a try and there followed a period of back-and-fro play in midfield, brought to an end by a brilliant turnover by Rowan Jenkins.
Looking to give players game time, changes were made which saw Hooker Luke Davies win his 100th cap and also saw the return of the two Thomases, Joe and Nicky.
Another Thomas, Aled, was enjoying his afternoon; a lovely pass found Will Price in space. He passed to Joe Gage who found Chris Banfield with a deft crosskick, Banfield crossing in the corner.
Nicky Thomas was reunited with his old scrum partner Rowan Jenkins to win three back-to-back scrum penalties (the last against the head) and this led to another Lloyd Evans break, this time he put in a grubber kick for winger Matthew Jenkins to latch onto, which he collected skillfully for the score.
Llandovery came back at Aberavon who were a player down, lock Rhodri Hughes having been sent to the sin bin. A long period of Llandovery pressure followed which resulted in a try, the conversion glancing off the post. Llandovery attacked again but Andrew Waite was able to rip the ball and Aberavon cleared into touch to end what was a very entertaining encounter.
We begin our Indigo Group Premiership Cup campaign at home against Llanelli next week. We hope to see you there.
Llandovery 29 – 40 Aberavon
Chris Banfield; Matthew Jenkins (rep Frankie Jones 80+1 min), Chay Smith (rep Joe Thomas 50 min), Will Price (capt) (rep Chay Smith 71 min), Frankie Jones (rep Joe Gage half-time); Aled Thomas (rep Dan Edwards 71 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole half-time); Jordan Walters (rep Rowan Jenkins 28 min, rep Rhys Fawcett 65 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies half-time), Geraint James (rep Nicky Thomas half-time, rep Chris Davies 65 min), Rhodri Hughes, Sam Williams (rep Shay Smallman 59 min), Lee Purnell, Andrew Waite (rep Ashton Evans 63 min, rep Lloyd Evans 80+3 min), Lloyd Evans (rep Andrew Waite 78 min).
Luke Davies made his 100th appearance for Aberavon RFC.
T – Chay Smith, Lee Purnell, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans, Chris Banfield, Matthew Jenkins
C – Aled Thomas (5)
T – 5
C – 2
05 min: Llandovery – T (5 – 0)
13 min: Llandovery – T (10 – 0)
19 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith (10 – 5)
23 min: Llandovery – T & C (17 – 5)
27 min: Aberavon – T – Lee Purnell & C – Aled Thomas (17 – 12)
35 min: Aberavon – T – Andrew Waite & C – Aled Thomas (17 – 19)
37 min: Llandovery – T & C (24 – 19)
40+3 min: Llandovery – Yellow Card
40+4 min: Half Time
40 min: Aberavon – T – Lloyd Evans & C – Aled Thomas (24 – 26)
47 min: Aberavon – T – Chris Banfield & C – Aled Thomas (24 – 33)
69 min: Aberavon – T – Matthew Jenkins & C – Aled Thomas (24 – 40)
73 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Rhodri Hughes
80 min: Llandovery – T (29 – 40)
80+5 min: Full Time