by Howard Evans
Aberavon took the win and the try-bonus for the third successive Cup match and the try-count of 4-0 shows how well they played.
It wasn’t a day for pretty rugby, though the rain did stop at half-time, but Aberavon’s pack gave another splendid display as they set up a good platform and destroyed the Bridgend scrum.
It was a win gained despite losing forwards Lee Purnell, Lloyd Evans and Rhodri Hughes with injury in the first-half. However, the news was better after the game as the amazing Purnell believed he can shake it off; Hughes has damaged a finger that is hopefully not broken and Evans had a finger in his eye!
Even the necessity to play hooker Luke Davies on the flank for all the second half had little effect on the pack, who scrummed low and hard, totally wearing down the home pack.
Joe Gage also limped off in the second half, but the ‘Wizards’ squad is so good at the moment that the replacements all were more than adequate.
Head coach Jason Hyatt declared: “I am delighted. Three games, three wins and three bonuses. Great, a brilliant return to rugby by the squad.
“We gave just eight kicks against us, though Owen Howe kicked well and was successful with all of his five attempts. I must praise referee Aled Evans for the way he handled the game.
“In the past, we have not really been a wet weather side, but we adapted well today. Don’t forget we had not played for 18 months and even those who did not play today are all considered for selection and will get their chance.”
Unusually, fly-half Aled Thomas missed two early shots at goal before Ashton Evans replaced the injured Purnell. But, good play led to Aled throwing out to the unmarked left-wing Stefan Andrews who opened the scoring and Aled converted.
Sam Williams then replaced Lloyd Evans while Owen Howe replied with a penalty and then another as Aberavon led 7-6 at the break.
Rhodri Hughes did not come out for the second half with Ieuan Davies coming on and Luke Davies going on the flank.
Quick thinking by scrum-half Rhodri Cole brought another try that Aled goaled, but Howe kicked another penalty in reply.
Another Howe penalty pegged it to 12-14 before the pack shoved and Andy Waite touched down. Yet again Howe fired over a penalty, before Aberavon clinched it.
Aled kicked to the corner and Ieuan Davies was there to score on the drive.
Assistant coach Lyndon Lewis said: “Sometimes you win ugly, but we deserved it.”
In all it was probably more impressive than ugly. Now on to Carmarthen.
Bridgend 15 – 24 Aberavon
Joe Gage (rep Frankie Jones 60 min); Chris Banfield, Chay Smith (rep Joe Thomas 68 min), Will Price (capt), Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole (rep Iwan Temblett 60 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 53 min), Luke Davies, Geraint James (rep Nicky Thomas 62 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes (rep Ieuan Davies half-time), Lee Purnell (rep Ashton Evans 21 min), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (rep Sam Williams 25 min).
T – Stef Andrews, Rhodri Cole, Andrew Waite, Ieuan Davies
C – Aled Thomas (2)
PG – Owen Howe (5)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Andrew Waite
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Joe Gage
13 min: Bridgend – Yellow Card – Iestyn Merriman
24 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews & C – Aled Thomas (0 – 7)
24 min: Bridgend – Yellow Card – Jamie Murphy
27 min: Bridgend – PG – Owen Howe (3 – 7)
34 min: Bridgend – PG – Owen Howe (6 – 7)
40+1 min: Half Time
44 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Aled Thomas (6 – 14)
48 min: Bridgend – PG – Owen Howe (9 – 14)
57 min: Bridgend – PG – Owen Howe (12 – 14)
66 min: Aberavon – T – Andrew Waite (12 – 19)
69 min: Bridgend – PG – Owen Howe (15 – 19)
71 min: Aberavon – T – Ieuan Davies (15 – 24)
80 min: Full Time