Match Report: Aberavon 27 – 14 Swansea

by Howard Evans

Aberavon must surely have scored the fastest-ever try from a kick-off, touched down by centre Chay Smith in about 15 seconds.

Swansea kicked off well, but wing Stef Andrews caught it and raced away from his own half, Smith was with him and took the pass to score in the corner.

Thereafter, the game was disappointing in some ways as Aberavon continually shoved the Swansea scrum backwards, even though prop Rowan Jenkins was not playing.

The front row of Rhys Fawcett, Luke Davies and Geraint James were far too good and Swansea had two front-rowers yellow-carded.

Swansea led 9-8 when former ‘Wizard’ Liam Popham kicked a hat-trick of penalties against one by Aled Thomas. But, it was never going to be good enough.

In the time added on Aberavon’s pack pushed Swansea backwards and a penalty try was awarded to send the sides in at half-time at 15-9.

On the resumption Aberavon looked like running clear with it when after 43 minutes full-back Joe Gage scored after a good Andrews tackle and a run by hooker Luke Davies. Thomas converted and Swansea had no answer.

After 54 minutes a sweeping move and a long crossfield pass saw wing Chris Banfield dive over for a bonus point try, but somehow no others followed.

With the game way into stoppage time, Swansea, who had tackled bravely, suddenly scored a try when centre Hanno Dirksen forced his way over after good forward drives.

Aberavon head coach Jason Hyatt said: “Of course I am delighted with another bonus-point win, but somehow we always seem to struggle against Swansea.

It was, as outside half Aled Thomas commented: “There just seemed to be little continuity to the game”.

For Aberavon, all six front-rowers did well with Fawcett and James laying the foundations. Possibly the best player was the hardworking young Rhondda lock Shay Smallman, who has made a good start to the season.

In the backs, Joe Thomas and Chay Smith were a fine pair of centres, while with skipper Joe Tomalin-Reeves and deputy Will Price amongst those missing with injury, flanker Lee Purnell led the side.

Aberavon 27 – 14 Swansea

Aberavon Team:
Joe Gage; Chris Banfield, Chay Smith, Joe Thomas, Stef Andrews (rep Matthew Jenkins 73 min); Aled Thomas (rep Frankie Jones 56 min), Rhodri Cole (rep Iwan Temblett 56 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Jordan Walters 64 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 68 min), Geraint James (rep Nicky Thomas 64 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (rep Billy Moxey 72 min), Andrew Waite (rep Ashton Evans 59 min), Lloyd Evans.

Matthew Jenkins and Billy Moxey appeared from Trebanos RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Chay Smith, Penalty Try, Joe Gage, Chris Banfield
C – Aled Thomas
PG – Aled Thomas

Swansea Scorers:
T – Hanno Dirksen
PG – Liam Popham (3)

Dewi Phillips

Man Of The Match:
1 – Rhys Fawcett
2 – Lee Purnell
3 – Luke Davies

Time Line:
20 sec: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith (5 – 0)
06 min: Swansea – PG – Liam Popham (5 – 3)
10 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (8 – 3)
13 min: Swansea – PG – Liam Popham (8 – 6)
15 min: Swansea – PG – Liam Popham (8 – 9)
40 min: Swansea – Yellow Card – Owen Thomas
40+2 min: Aberavon – T – Penalty Try (15 – 9)
40+2 min: Half Time
42 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Gage & C – Aled Thomas (22 – 9)
47 min: Swansea – End Yellow Card – Owen Thomas
51 min: Swansea – Yellow Card – Cameron Jones
54 min: Aberavon – T – Chris Banfield (27 – 9)
63 min: Swansea – End Yellow Card – Cameron Jones
80+2 min: Swansea – T – Hanno Dirksen (27 – 14)
80+3 min: Full Time