Match Report: Merthyr 43 – 44 Aberavon

by Paul Williams

As the scoreline suggests, this was a match that had everything – tough forward exchanges, spectacular carefree running, breathtaking tries and no small amount of controversy.

There is always something of an ‘edge’ to matches between these two sides, with past events stoking the need for both sides to atone for events in the recent history of the fixture. No-one, however, could have predicted this particular finale to the 2021-22 season.

Aberavon kicked off, and within a minute had taken the lead when, having gained an immediate foothold deep in Merthyr territory, Luke Davies thundered over from close range to claim the first try, with Dan Edwards slotting over the conversion from out wide.

Seven minutes later, a clever kick from Edwards was gathered on the bounce by Cori Lewis-Jenkins despite the attentions of two defenders, and the young left-wing was able to claim the Wizards’ second try, with Edwards again adding the conversion from the touchline.

Almost immediately, Merthyr struck back to open their account, with centre Aaron Pinches thundering over for Gareth Thompson to convert.

The watching crowd were then given ten or so minutes to catch their breath before the next bout of scoring, and it was the Wizards who forged further ahead in spectacular fashion. First, Lewis-Jenkins proved to all and sundry that he had far more to offer than just chasing down kicks as he popped up in midfield to show terrific strength and speed to beat several defenders en-route to his second try. Two minutes another Aberavon attack ended with Iwan Temblett crossing at the posts after clever play by Ashton Evans, for Edwards’ conversion to take the score to 7-26, with the Wizards already in possession of a try bonus-point after just 20 minutes.

It was then Merthyr’s turn to respond with a quick one-two, narrowing the gap to 19-26 with tries from back row man Tom Daley and wing Sam Jones, with Thompson converting the latter.

The almost inevitable controversy then followed, when a scuffle broke out that had the Aberavon contingent protesting loudly, having seen skipper Joe Tomalin-Reeves hurled forcefully to the ground and several other players pushing and shoving. What had sparked it off was unclear, but the visitors were understandably aggrieved to see Tomalin-Reeves shown a red card with his opposite number, Merthyr skipper Craig Locke, only getting ten minutes in the sin-bin.

The Wizards, however, were next to score. Centre Joe Gage, in irrepressible form, had time and time again torn huge holes in the home defence, and was at it again just before the interval, beating man after man before handing on to right-wing Aled Rees who crossed at the posts for Edwards to yet again convert, making the half-time score 19-33.

The Wizards’ lead was further extended early in the second half when a clever line-out move saw Lloyd Evans and Luke Davies make ground up the touchline before Ashton Evans took the final pass to crash over for an unconverted try.

Merthyr continued to throw all they had at the depleted Aberavon defence, but initially found it tough going until Sam Jones went in for his second try of the afternoon, followed soon afterwards by Locke crashing over. Thompson converted both and it was now ‘game on’ with the score standing at 33-38 going into the final quarter.

Aberavon replacement Aled Thomas put over a penalty to add some daylight between the teams, but that was cancelled out as Pinches and Jones put Merthyr ahead for the first time with the clock rapidly running down.

The Wizards, however, were in no mood to let this one slip, and as they redoubled their efforts, with a huge defensive effort by all concerned repelling the home side’s collective desperation to get back on terms, they managed to work their way into Merthyr territory where a penalty was forthcoming and duly kicked by Thomas to put the Wizards back ahead, albeit by a single point. It was, however, enough. Merthyr were unable to establish any kind of attacking platform in the few remaining minutes, Thompson sent a penalty attempt well wide and, from another penalty awarded to the Wizards, Stef Andrews took a tap-kick before kicking the ball out of play to bring down the curtain on an absorbing encounter.

Score:
Merthyr 43 – 44 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Stef Andrews; Aled Rees (rep Aled Thomas 59 min), Joe Thomas (rep Will Price half-time), Joe Gage, Cori Lewis-Jenkins; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole half-time); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 44 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 53 min), Chris Davies, Ashton Evans (rep Sam Williams 59 min), Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (rep Ben Williams 59 min), Lloyd Evans, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).

Replacements not used:
Nicky Thomas.

Notes:
Cori Lewis-Jenkins & Dan Edwards appeared from the Ospreys; Ben Williams appeared from Gilfach Goch RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Cori Lewis-Jenkins (2), Luke Davies, Iwan Temblett, Aled Rees, Ashton Evans.
C – Dan Edwards (4)
PG – Aled Thomas (2)

Merthyr Scorers:
T – Sam Jones (3), Arron Pinches (2), Tom Daley, Craig Locke.
C – Gareth Thompson (4)

Referee:
Ben Breakspear

Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Gage
2 – Lee Purnell
3 – Cori Lewis-Jenkins

Time Line:
01 min: Aberavon – T – Luke Davies & C – Dan Edwards (0 – 7)
08 min: Aberavon – T – Cori Lewis-Jenkins & C – Dan Edwards (0 – 14)
11 min: Merthyr – T – Arron Pinches & C – Gareth Thompson (7 – 14)
18 min: Aberavon – T – Cori Lewis-Jenkins (7 – 19)
20 min: Aberavon – T – Iwan Temblett & C – Dan Edwards (7 – 26)
25 min: Merthyr – T – Tom Daley (12 – 26)
27 min: Merthyr – T – Sam Jones & C – Gareth Thompson (19 – 26)
30 min: Aberavon – Red Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
30 min: Merthyr – Yellow Card – Craig Locke
38 min: Aberavon – T – Aled Rees & C – Dan Edwards (19 – 33)
40+2 min: Merthyr – End Yellow Card – Craig Locke
40+2 min: Half Time
46 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans (19 – 38)
56 min: Merthyr – T – Sam Jones & C – Gareth Thompson (26 – 38)
62 min: Merthyr – T – Craig Locke & C – Gareth Thompson (33 – 38)
66 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (33 – 41)
73 min: Merthyr – T – Arron Pinches (38 – 41)
76 min: Merthyr – T – Sam Jones (43 – 41)
78 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (43 – 44)
80+3 min: Full Time

Team v Merthyr

The Aberavon team to face Merthyr at the Wern on Saturday at 1:30 pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Stef Andrews; Aled Rees, Joe Thomas, Joe Gage, Cori Lewis-Jenkins; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett; Rowan Jenkins, Luke Davies, Chris Davies, Ashton Evans, Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell, Lloyd Evans, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).

Replacements:
Rhodri Cole, Aled Thomas, Will Price, Ben Williams, Cameron Lewis, Sam Williams, Rhys Fawcett, Nicky Thomas.

Preview: Merthyr v Aberavon

Aberavon (3rd – 32 points) play their last game of the season this Saturday when they travel to the Wern to take on Merthyr (8th – 29 points) in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 1:30 pm. The game will decide who finishes third in the table – A win or draw for the Wizards will see them finishing third, but a Merthyr win will see things come down to bonus points and try count to see if Merthyr or Aberavon finish in third place.

In the Premiership this season, the Ironmen have won five of their ten games. Their wins have come against Ebbw Vale, Swansea, Bridgend, Llanelli and Newport with them losing to RGC 1404, Llandovery, Pontypridd, Carmarthen Quins and Cardiff. At home, Merthyr have beaten Ebbw Vale and Llanelli, but lost to Llandovery and Carmarthen Quins.

In the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, Merthyr finished the pool stage of the competition in third place in the East division after winning five of their ten games. They faced Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground in the quarter-final stage back in February with the Wizards narrowly winning 17 – 16.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Merthyr have scored 28.6 points on average per game (ranked 3rd) and 3.9 tries (ranked 4th). In “defence” they have conceded 22.2 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.4 tries (ranked 8th). Aberavon have scored 27.8 points per game (ranked 4th) and 3.8 tries (ranked 5th), and conceded 20.0 points (ranked 3rd) and 2.5 tries (ranked 2nd).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Merthyr have met each other 16 times in the Welsh National League, including playoffs, with the Wizards leading the series 11 – 5. At the Wern, Aberavon lead 5 – 3 with them winning on their last two visits to the ground (29 – 22 in 2019/20 and 22 – 14 in 2018/19).

Looking back to when the sides met at the Wern in a midweek game in May 2002. The Ironmen were already relegated from Division One whilst the Wizards were competing with Pontypool for the Division One title and needed to win and score at least nine tries. In that game, the home side had first use of the slope and went ahead with a penalty in the second minute of play – outside half Robert Downes with the kick. The Wizards hit back with a try by wing Sam Greenaway and a penalty by outside half Jamie Davies to make the score 8 – 3 after 20 minutes of play. Centre Scott Leighton scored a try late in the half with the New Zealander’s conversion making the score 15 – 3 at the interval.

In the second half, the Wizards knew they needed a further seven tries to go back on top of the Division above Pooler. Now playing down the Wern slope the Wizards started well when lock Dafydd Owen scored in the corner at the start of the half. Hooker Jason Hyatt was next on the scoresheet as the Wizards stopped taking conversions as they chased the tries. The score was 25 – 3 as the game approached the final quarter with the Wizards still needing five tries. Those five tries came in an eleven-minute spell when tries were scored by centre Paul Morgan, lock and captain Steve Rees, then both Morgan and Owen scored again before back row Gareth Newman touched down for Aberavon’s ninth try. That score put Aberavon back on top of the table with ten minutes left to play. The Ironmen then hit back with a try of their own as wing Kristian Owen intercepted inside his own 22 and sprinted clear for a try that Downes converted (Owen went on to sign for the Wizards after the season finished). Aberavon had the last word though when Greenaway scored two more tries before replacement wing Jonathan Williams touched down in the last move of the game to make the final score 65 – 10 to Aberavon.

The Wizards team that day was: Matthew Back; Sam Greenaway, Paul Morgan, Scott Leighton, Nicky Bonham (rep Jonathan Williams); Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Rob Price (rep Mike Harris), Jason Hyatt, Andrew Clatworthy (rep Greg Dix), Dafydd Owen, Steve Rees (capt), Natano Tiatia (rep Richard Morris), Gareth Newman, Andrew Thomas (temp rep Kevin Allen)

The referee for Saturday’s game is Ben Breakspear, aided by Elgan Williams and Kelvin Shorte.

Match Report: RGC 1404 21 – 30 Aberavon

by RGC

RGC ended the season with a disappointing defeat to Aberavon, and after a poor first half gave themselves a mountain to climb.

The Wizards opened the scoring with a Dan Edwards penalty, in an opening 15 minutes that failed to spark.

It soon became a 10 -Nil lead when Iwan Temblett crossed for the try with the boot of Edwards on target.

RGC went close when Danny Cross took the ball from the back of the lineout to set up Jordan Jones who went close.

The Gogs try came from fullback Afon Bagshaw on the 23rd minute with Dion Jones converting.

RGC were giving the visitors some easy ball with errors which meant they couldn’t continue the momentum.

Aberavon extended the lead with a Dan Edwards penalty.

The scoreboard ticked over with Cori Lewis-Jenkins running in for a try with Edwards hitting the conversion.

Dan Edwards tried his luck with a penalty from his own half and it sailed over to give his sides a 23-7 lead.

As half-time approached the visitors got their last points with a try and another Edwards conversion.

RGC picked up the energy in the second half and a number of the replacement made an impact.

Dafydd Williams ran in for a try on his debut after Sam Rogers set him up with a great looping pass. Rogers nudged the conversion over.

Aberavon were given a couple of yellow cards, which gave RGC an opportunity to attack the space.

The Gogs worked to the line with a few pick and goes, and Owain Evans came up with the try and Sam Rogers managed to kick the conversion.

It wasn’t enough in the end, but the second half performance shows what RGC are capable of and what is needed for next season.

Score:
RGC 1404 21 – 30 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Stef Andrews; Frankie Jones (rep Aled Rees 58 min), Chay Smith, Joe Thomas (capt), Cori Lewis-Jenkins; Dan Edwards (rep Aled Thomas 68 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 60 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 75 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 63 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 54 min), Sam Williams, Rhodri Hughes, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Iestyn Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 68 min).

Replacements not used:
Zak Fifield.

Notes:
Cori Lewis-Jenkins & Dan Edwards appeared from the Ospreys; Iestyn Davies appeared from Tondu RFC; Zac Fifield appeared from Glamorgan Wanderers RFC.
Club debut for Iestyn Davies.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Iwan Temblett, Cori Lewis-Jenkins, Chay Smith
C – Dan Edwards (3)
PG – Dan Edwards (3)

RGC 1404 Scorers:
T – Afon Bagshaw, Dafydd Williams, Owain Evans
C – Sam Rogers (2), Dion Jones

Referee:
Steff Edwards

Man Of The Match:
1 – Dan Edwards
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Iestyn Davies

Time Line:
07 min: Aberavon – PG – Dan Edwards (0 – 3)
15 min: Aberavon – T – Iwan Temblett & C – Dan Edwards (0 – 10)
23 min: RGC – T – Afon Bagshaw & C – Dion Jones (7 – 10)
26 min: Aberavon – PG – Dan Edwards (7 – 13)
28 min: Aberavon – T – Cori Lewis-Jenkins & C – Dan Edwards (7 – 20)
32 min: Aberavon – PG – Dan Edwards (7 – 23)
38 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith & C – Dan Edwards (7 – 30)
40 min: Half Time
56 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Andrew Waite
65 min: RGC – T – Dafydd Williams & C – Sam Rogers (14 – 30)
67 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Chay Smith
72 min: RGC – T – Owain Evans & C – Sam Rogers (21 – 30)
80 min: Full Time

Team v RGC 1404

The Aberavon team to face RGC 1404 at Stadiwm ZipWorld on Saturday at 2:30 pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Stef Andrews; Frankie Jones, Chay Smith, Joe Thomas, Cori Lewis-Jenkins; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett; Rhys Fawcett, Luke Davies, Geraint James, Ashton Evans, Rhodri Hughes, Iestyn Davies, Andrew Waite, Ben Williams.

Replacements:
Rhodri Cole, Aled Thomas, Aled Rees, Cameron Lewis, Ieuan Davies, Sam Williams, Rowan Jenkins, Chris Davies.

Preview: RGC 1404 v Aberavon

Aberavon play their penultimate game of the season this Saturday when they travel to Colwyn Bay to take on RGC 1404 in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

In the Premiership this season, the North Walians have won six of their ten games. Their wins have come against Llanelli, Merthyr, Swansea, Ebbw Vale, Newport and Pontypridd with them losing to Llandovery, Cardiff, Carmarthen Quins and Bridgend. At home, they have won four of their five games, with the wins coming against Merthyr, Swansea, Ebbw Vale and Pontypridd, and Cardiff being the only side to win there back in January.

In the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, RGC 1404 finished the pool stage of the competition in fifth place in the East division after winning four of their ten games and missing out on reaching the quarter-finals.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, RGC 1404 have scored 26.5 points on average per game (ranked 6th) and 3.5 tries (ranked 6th). In “defence” they have conceded 21.4 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.1 tries (ranked 6th). Aberavon have scored 27.6 points per game (ranked 4th) and 3.9 tries (ranked 5th), and conceded 19.9 points (ranked 3rd) and 2.4 tries (ranked 2nd).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and RGC 1404 have met each other 8 times in the Welsh National League, with the series tied at 4 wins each. At Colwyn Bay, the series is also tied at 2 wins each with the home side winning 36 – 30 the last time the sides met in the league at the ground (2019-20).

Looking back to when both sides first clashed at the ground in October 2016, the Wizards won the top-of-the-table clash 22 – 11.

Aberavon led 10 – 3 at the break thanks to a try by David Pritchard. Steffen Williams converted and kicked a penalty late in the half. For the home side, Jacob Botica kicked a penalty.

Early in the second half, the Wizards went further ahead when Morgan Williams scored a try. Once again, Steffen Williams converted. The home side scored their only try of the game when Ross Davies went over. A second Botica penalty put the RGC within 6 points of their visitors, but Aberavon had the last word when Stef Andrews went over for Aberavon’s third try of the afternoon.

The Wizards team that day was: Joe Gage (rep Morgan Williams); Matthew Jacobs, Will Price, Rheon James, Stef Andrews; Steffen Williams (rep Joe Thomas), David Pritchard (rep Jacob Flynn); Rowan Jenkins, Ieuan Davies, Alex Jeffries (rep Jon Thomas), James Ratti, Adam Beard, Nathan Brown (rep Ben Davies), Chris Davies (capt), Joe Tomalin-Reeves.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Steff Edwards, aided by Gwion Davies and Robert Beach.

Match Report: Aberavon 21 – 25 Newport

by Paul Williams

It was oh, so close, but Aberavon’s second-half onslaught wasn’t quite enough for them to claim the silverware in an absorbing match at the Principality Stadium.

The ‘game of two halves’ cliché was almost certainly echoing through both camps post-match, as Newport eased their way into a 17-6 interval lead through the prolific boot of fly-half Will Reed and a try awarded to right-wing Jonny Morris after a lengthy discussion amongst the match officials who concluded that Morris was onside when the ball was cross-kicked into his path, made the line solely due to his momentum and managed to keep himself the right side of the touchline.

The Wizards, meanwhile, had to make do with a brace of Aled Thomas penalties as their attempts to apply pressure via their scrummaging prowess cut no ice with referee Aled Evans. Frustratingly, their best moments came in open play, with both fly-half Thomas and lock Sam Williams making clean breaks inside the Newport 22 only for the final pass to go to ground on both occasions.

Aberavon finally got into their stride when Thomas, having landed his third penalty just after the interval, put a further penalty into touch five metres out. Lineout ball was predictably won, and crucially a quick switch of the point of attack to the tail of the lineout left Newport short of numbers as the ensuing maul drove forwards at a rate of knots. It came as no surprise when hooker Ieuan Davies emerged from beneath the pile of bodies wearing his customary cheeky grin, having claimed the try.

Thomas’ conversion attempt drifted inches wide, but with the Newport lead cut to just three points it was now certainly a case of ‘game on’, even after a further penalty from Reed had restored the six-point margin. The Aberavon pack had the bit between their teeth and were going hard. Rhodri Cole made a clean break down the blind side and chipped ahead but was agonisingly just millimetres short of regathering to score. However, at the resulting scrum the Newport pack were splintered as the Wizards’ drive came on strong, earning them a penalty. The scrum option was called, and as the drive once again came on the Newport pack folded in on itself, with the referee having no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, putting the Wizards ahead 21-20.

That, however, was as good as it got from an Aberavon viewpoint. Some clever running initiated by Reed during a rare visit into Aberavon territory ended with Newport skipper Matt O’Brien scoring an unconverted try, and for the final ten minutes it was a case of ‘all hands to the pumps’ in the Newport defence as the Wizards tried without success to find a way through.

Score:
Aberavon 21 – 25 Newport

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Joe Gage half-time); Chris Banfield, Joe Thomas, Will Price, Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas (rep Dan Edwards 59 min), Rhodri Cole (rep Iwan Temblett 69 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 57 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 57 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 74 min), Shay Smallman (rep Rhodri Hughes 57 min), Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt) (rep Lloyd Evans 54 min).

Notes:
Dan Edwards appeared from the Ospreys.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Ieuan Davies, Penalty Try
PG – Aled Thomas (3)

Newport Scorers:
T – Jon Morris, Matt O’Brien
PG – Will Reed (5)

Referee:
Aled Evans

Man Of The Match:
1 – Andrew Waite
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Chris Banfield

Time Line:
03 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (3 – 0)
05 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (3 – 3)
09 min: Newport – T – Jon Morris (3 – 8)
13 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (3 – 11)
17 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (6 – 11)
26 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (6 – 14)
29 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (6 – 17)
40 min: Half Time
43 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (9 – 17)
48 min: Aberavon – T – Ieuan Davies (14 – 17)
58 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (14 – 20)
64 min: Aberavon – T – Penalty Try (21 – 20)
65 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Dan Suter
66 min: Newport – T – Matt O’Brien (21 – 25)
80 min: Full Time

Team v Newport

The Aberavon team to face Newport at the Principality Stadium on Sunday at 5:35 pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Jonathan Phillips; Chris Banfield, Joe Thomas, Will Price, Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rowan Jenkins, Ieuan Davies, Geraint James, Shay Smallman, Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).

Replacements:
Iwan Temblett, Dan Edwards, Joe Gage, Lloyd Evans, Luke Davies, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Fawcett, Chris Davies.

Preview: Aberavon v Newport

Aberavon take on Newport at the Principality Stadium this Sunday in the final of the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, kick-off at 5:35 pm.

The Black & Ambers finished the pool stage of the competition in top spot of the East division after winning eight of their ten games. Their only losses came at Pontypridd in September and at home to RGC 1404 in November. After topping the division, Newport saw off Bridgend in the quarter-finals (45 – 17) and Cardiff in the semi-final played at Sardis Road at the end of last month (34 – 28).

In the Indigo Group Premiership, the Black & Ambers have won eight from ten games and are in second place in the table with just one game remaining. They won their first eight games of the competition with the last six of them all bonus-point wins. This month saw them lose back-to-back as they went down at home 31 – 32 to RGC 1404 (picking up two bonus points) and, in their last outing on April 7th, going down 22 – 34 at home Merthyr.

The last time the Wizards played in the Principality Stadium was in the Swalec Cup final against Pontypridd eleven seasons ago. Ponty opened the scoring with an early Simon Humberstone penalty, but a Matthew Jarvis penalty after quarter of an hour levelled the scores. Aberavon took the lead after 24 minutes when Richard Carter scored a try converted by Jarvis. Ponty levelled the scores seven minutes later through a Lewis Jones try with Humberstone adding the extras. By half time Pontypridd were 20 – 10 up after a drop goal by Humberstone and a try by Darren Waters that Humberstone converted.

Within ten minutes of the restart Ponty were 30 – 10 up with Humberstone kicking a penalty and also converting Lewis Jones’s second try of the game. However, the Wizards hit back in the last quarter with tries scored by Sam Williams and Nathan Strong, with Jarvis converting both. Aberavon were now just six points behind with 13 minutes remaining. However, the Wizards suffered a sucker punch when Ponty claimed the restart to send Ryan Savage over for a pressure-relieving try which sealed the victory for the Sardis Road side.

The Aberavon team that day was: Matthew Jarvis; Richard Carter, Will Price, Ashley Beck (rep Liam Gadd), Ricky Thomas; Jamie Davies, Dan Davies (rep David Pritchard); Neil White (rep Lloyd Howell), Marc Breeze, Anthony Edwards (rep James Jones), Ian Moore (rep Aaron Bray), Sam Williams, James King (rep Richard Morris), Nathan Strong, Chris Davies (capt) (rep Darryl Thomas).

The referee for Sunday’s game is Aled Evans, aided by Dewi Phillips, Mike English, Jamie Morgan and Stuart Vaudin, with TMO Ian Davies.

Match Report: Bridgend 17 – 13 Aberavon

Aberavon had most of the first half and led 13-0 before going to the break at 13-7, but from then onwards they were overwhelmed by Bridgend.

No 8 forward Morgan Strong, son of the watching Nathan, scored two fine tries for the ‘Ravens’.

The effort was there by the players, but Bridgend tackled splendidly after the break.

Jonny Phillips was outstanding until being replaced through injury and Andrew Waite was certainly out there fighting for a cup final place. Prop Rhys Fawcett also made a fine start.

Rhodri Cole was another who, after a splendid for 40 minutes, was tactically replaced for Temblett.

But, generally, Aberavon cannot blame referee Ben Breakspear, who showed good control, and Bridgend must be congratulated for a great fighting performance.

Aberavon soon opened the scoring when centre Joe Gage started and ended a move and Aled Thomas added a close-range penalty.

A series of thrilling runs by full back Phillips finally saw his chip beautifully caught by left-wing Stef Andrews and it was 13-0.

Aberavon’s biggest failing is letting sides off the hook and suddenly Strong burst out of a maul and was clear and over for fly-half Short to convert.

After the interval, Short kicked a good penalty to reduce the deficit to three points and then was replaced by veteran Matthew Jones. The young fly-half looked rightly aggrieved.

A try just had to come and the lively Strong. Jones converted.

Bridgend the deserved winners on the day.

Score:
Bridgend 17 – 13 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Frankie Jones 56 min); Chris Banfield, Joe Thomas (rep Chay Smith 66 min), Joe Gage, Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole (rep Iwan Temblett 48 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 51 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 79 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 51 min), Shay Smallman (rep Sam Pailor 66 min), Rhodri Hughes, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt) (rep Lloyd Evans 56 min).

Notes:
Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Joe Gage, Stef Andrews
PG – Aled Thomas

Bridgend Scorers:
T – Morgan Strong (2)
C – Paul Short, Matthew Jones
PG – Paul Short

Referee:
Ben Breakspear

Man Of The Match:
1 – Jonathan Phillips
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Ieuan Davies

Time Line:
03 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Gage (0 – 5)
25 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (0 – 8)
33 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (0 – 13)
35 min: Bridgend – T – Morgan Strong & C – Paul Short (7 – 13)
40+1 min: Half Time
51 min: Bridgend – PG – Paul Short (10 – 13)
69 min: Bridgend – T – Morgan Strong & C – Matthew Jones (17 – 13)
80 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Lloyd Evans
80+4 min: Full Time