Match Report: Aberavon 24 – 13 Ebbw Vale

Match Report: Aberavon 24 – 13 Ebbw Vale
by Paul Williams

Aberavon confounded the critics with a well-deserved bonus-point win over second-placed Ebbw Vale at the Talbot Athletic Ground. Few would have expected the Wizards to produce such a performance just five days after taking a heavy loss at Cardiff, but this was a well-deserved victory by four tries to one. The match also marked the welcome return of the club’s long-term injured players, with number eight Andrew Waite producing some fine examples of his trademark ball-carrying and scrum-half Liam Seaward putting in a typical live-wire performance before they were replaced by Travis Huntley and Aron Hemmings early in the second half.

A hard-fought first half saw little to choose between the two sides. In fact, twenty minutes had elapsed before the first score, which put the visitors ahead 7-nil as Owen Conquer touched down from close range for Evan Lloyd to convert. If the Steelmen had thoughts of building a commanding lead from there, however, they were to be disappointed. An Aberavon penalty near half-way was drilled into touch five metres from the Ebbw try-line by fly-half James Davies, and from the ensuing lineout hooker Cameron Lewis burst away, showing good speed and strength to crash over for an unconverted try that left the home side just two points adrift at the interval.

The second half, it must be said, belonged almost entirely to Aberavon. As time went on, so the Wizards’ defensive effort improved. Rhodri Hughes, on his one-hundredth appearance in Aberavon colours, combined with his second-row partner Shay Smallman to starve the visitors of lineout possession, while there were heroics across the field as big tackles and an even bigger desire to battle for every scrap of possession constantly frustrated the visitors.

Meanwhile, Aberavon were growing in confidence. Scott Delnevo, a replacement at full-back for injured skipper Stef Andrews, put up a speculative cross-kick into the path of the onrushing Jay Baker. The big winger regathered the bouncing ball and swerved left and right to evade two defenders and touch down out wide on the right, with fly-half James Davies adding the conversion.

The visitors struck back with a brace of penalty goals from Lloyd that gave them a one-point lead, but on the hour mark Aberavon centre Brad Roderick produced a deft touch, putting through a short midfield grubber-kick which he then picked up and flicked an inside pass in one movement, sending Hemmings on a clear run to the try-line for Davies to again convert.

The tension mounted as the visitors threw all they had into overturning the Wizards’ six-point lead, but the Wizards’ determined defensive effort continued to frustrate them, and following yet another line-out steal, the home side quickly sent the ball through several pairs of hands across the field where Callum Carson put Frankie Jones clear down the right-hand touchline. The on-form Jones needed no further bidding as he sprinted over in the corner to score his team’s fourth try, and thus claim the bonus point.

There was still sufficient time on the clock for the visitors to mount a final attack in a bid to earn a losing bonus point, but they remained unable to break down a home defence in no mood to let slip their margin of victory.

Date:
Thursday November 30th, 2023

Score:
Aberavon 24 – 13 Ebbw Vale

Aberavon Team:
Stef Andrews (capt) (rep Scott Delnevo half-time); Jay Baker (rep Callum Carson 72 min), Frankie Jones, Bradley Roderick, Chris Banfield; James Davies, Liam Seaward (rep Aron Hemmings 48 min); Jordan Walters (rep Rowan Jenkins 51 min), Cameron Lewis (rep Ellis Major 80 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 51 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Thomas, Andrew Waite (rep Travis Huntley 54 min), Ben Gregory (rep Cameron Loveys 80 min).

Notes:
Liam Seaward appeared from Morriston RFC; Ellis Major appeared from Tondu RFC; Cameron Loveys appeared from Trebanos RFC.
Rhodri Hughes made his 100th appearance for Aberavon RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Cameron Lewis, Jay Baker, Aron Hemmings, Frankie Jones
C – James Davies (2)

Ebbw Vale Scorers:
T – Owen Conquer
C – Evan Lloyd
P – Evan Lloyd (2)

Referee:
Tom Spurrier

Man Of The Match:
1 – Rhodri Hughes
2 – Cameron Lewis
3 – Rhys Thomas

Time Line:
20 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Owen Conquer & C – Evan Lloyd (0 – 7)
30 min: Aberavon – T – Cameron Lewis (5 – 7)
40+2 min: Half Time
42 min: Aberavon – T – Jay Baker & C – James Davies (12 – 7)
45 min: Ebbw Vale – PG – Evan Lloyd (12 – 10)
55 min: Ebbw Vale – PG – Evan Lloyd (12 – 13)
61 min: Aberavon – T – Aron Hemmings & C – James Davies (19 – 13)
74 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones (24 – 13)
80+2 min: Full Time

Action Replay (Ebbw Vale Programme Notes)

Action Replay (Ebbw Vale Programme Notes)

Cardiff 64-26 Aberavon
Indigo Premiership, 25th November 2023

by Paul Williams

The injury-hit Wizards’ woes continued at Cardiff Arms Park as the home side raised their game after the interval following a hard-fought opening half. To their great credit, the young Aberavon side kept going until the very end and were rewarded with a bonus point thanks to two late tries added to their two first-half touchdowns.

Cardiff were quickly off the mark, and things looked ominous for the Wizards as first hooker Joey Tomlinson was driven over from an early lineout, then experienced number eight and skipper Morgan Allen crossed and, with another experienced campaigner, former Newport fly-half Arwel Robson, having converted both, the score stood at 14-nil after fifteen minutes.

A quick response from the Wizards was crucial, and it came almost immediately when turnover ball saw Frankie Jones sprinting away down the left from deep inside the Aberavon half. He handed on to Chris Banfield who took play up to the Cardiff 22 before kicking ahead, and as the home defence struggled to make the ball safe fly-half James Davies, enjoying a good first season in Aberavon colours following his move from Swansea, followed up and grounded the loose ball, adding the conversion to make it 14-7.

Soon afterwards the Wizards were on terms. Lineout ball courtesy of Rhodri Hughes was sent wide, and some good running from Jonathan Phillips and Frankie Jones took play to within a few metres of the home line where the Cardiff defence conceded a penalty under pressure. From the ensuing lineout drive hooker Cameron Lewis burst away and crashed over for Davies to again convert. As half-time approached, however, Robson darted over for an unconverted try to regain the initiative for the home side.

The second half, sadly, was where it all began to unravel for the Wizards, and while there was clearly more than a hint of a forward pass in a couple of the home side’s tries, there was no denying their overall superiority as they overwhelmed a brave but tiring Aberavon defence and took their try tally to ten, building a 64-14 lead with ten minutes left to play.

In fairness, the visitors spent that last ten minutes pressing hard for some kind of tangible reward, and their endeavours earned them that bonus point when first Frankie Jones squeezed in at the right-hand corner, touching down acrobatically for an unconverted try and then, with the very last play, back-row man Rhys Thomas took a pass at full tilt to race through to the posts for Stef Andrews to convert.

Paul Williams (Ebbw Vale Programme Notes)

Paul Williams (Ebbw Vale Programme Notes)

Learning Curves

Okay, so it’s no use pretending that the season is going swimmingly thus far, but we can continue to look at the positives… they are there, in the form of the valuable experience being gained by some of the youngest players in many a long year to have donned the famous blood-and-black jersey.

Since the opening couple of weekends of this season, we’ve been without skipper Joe Gage, Rhodri Cole, Liam Seaward, Luke Davies, Casey Williams, Ashton Evans and Andrew Waite, while Jonathan Phillips and Chris Davies have only recently returned to action after lengthy absences, Joe Tomalin-Reeves is caught up in work commitments, and while we anxiously await the hopefully imminent return of several of the aforementioned, there remain some who will, sadly, be reluctant absentees for a little while longer. Surely anyone familiar with the Aberavon squad will agree that the above list of names would make up the nucleus of a pretty useful team if all were fully fit.

On the plus side, however, we have of necessity seen numerous young men step bravely forward and onto the rugby fields of South (and, on one occasion, North) Wales to represent Aberavon, and if the results haven’t gone their way, we can rest assured that each and every step they have taken along the difficult path they’ve been asked to follow has added to that for which, so the saying goes, there is no substitute – experience.

Since this season began in earnest we have seen James Davies quickly step in as a solid and authoritative fly-half, the returning Rhys Thomas making his presence felt in the back row alongside newcomer Ben Gregory. We’ve seen Aron Hemmings come in and add to our considerable scrum-half talent, and young Scott Delnovo make his mark at full-back. Travis Huntley has added to our strong pool of back-row players and Sam Jardine has picked up a baton that his father laid down two or three decades ago. Ellis Major, Cameron Loveys, James Clegg and Saul Hurley have made their debuts. What all these players possess in spades is youthful enthusiasm… what they will gain from each and every moment they spend on the field of play is experience, and as the more experienced players themselves return from the list of ‘walking wounded’ their influence will only be of benefit to this season’s crop of young newcomers.

It’s a steep learning curve, stepping into premiership rugby under such circumstances. Those of us who look on must remember this, show our appreciation of their efforts and above all provide encouragement. In sport today’s young bloods are tomorrow’s leading players. Give them their chance to prove it to us.

On, however, to this evening, and the arrival of the high-flying Steelmen of Ebbw Vale, currently nipping at the heels of table-toppers Llandovery. We bid them welcome, but I make no apology for asking why, oh why, do we always seem to get selected for one of these live-streamed floodlit matches during the dark, damp and/or undoubtedly cold parts of the season? As one who is now being dragged, kicking and screaming, in the general direction of old age, I could do without having to spend the best part of a couple of hours sitting or standing outside in conditions that I used to call “bracing” but am now more inclined to describe as “downright uncomfortable”. Ah well, c’est la vie.

Enjoy the game.

Team v Ebbw Vale

Team v Ebbw Vale

The Aberavon team to face Ebbw Vale at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Stef Andrews (capt); Jay Baker, Frankie Jones, Bradley Roderick, Chris Banfield; James Davies, Liam Seaward; Jordan Walters, Cameron Lewis, Chris Davies, Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Thomas, Andrew Waite, Ben Gregory.

Replacements:
Aron Hemmings, Scott Delnevo, Callum Carson, Ellis Major, Cameron Loveys, Travis Huntley, Rowan Jenkins, Geraint James.

The People Behind the Magic in the Community.

We are pleased to collaborate with Aberavon Schoolboys and Wizards Netball Club to enhance the opportunities for children in the Port Talbot community. 

Aberavon Rugby Football Club provides a sports initiative for primary school children in the Port Talbot area. The initiative is fully endorsed and supported by steel giants, Tata Steel. The league is branded ‘The Tata Steel Wizards League’.

There are fifteen primary schools involved and over 500 children directly benefit from the initiative. 

Chris Davies, Head of Communications at Aberavon Rugby Club said.

“The benefits of the Tata Steel Wizards League to our community is truly great. We are able to promote and facilitate more opportunities to become physically active while also adding the element of competition”.

Additionally, the Tata Steel Wizards League promotes the opportunity to play more sport during curriculum time and likewise during extra-curricular time.

We have partnered with Aberavon Schoolboys Rugby and also Wizards Netball Club in help provide the opportunities to play rugby and netball outside of school.

Mike Dyer, Aberavon Schoolboys, said.

“It was great be in a position as an organisation to be able to help out because at the end of the day some of the children taking part in the league are involved with Aberavon Schools 11s this season and are also supporting future generations.

COVID19 put a stop on school sport so having the league back provides the schools in the area an opportunity to play against other schools and not having to worry about to financial costs of buses or kits.”

We asked Sharon Walters of Wizards Netball Club about why she wanted to be involved with the Tata Steel Wizards League.

“To get children active, to see all schools involved in league, these children will have memories and make friends for life, from sport.

Playing sport helps children build resilience and feel better about themselves.

Building a positive attitude to sport and physical exercise, can help them feel more motivated, confident and able to get active throughout life.”

Each school have been provided with rugby and netball kit to wear for the Tata Steel Wizards League. While the steel giants are the principle partner, Sharon’s Wizards Netball Club and Mikes Aberavon Schoolboys logo sit on the sleeve of the netball and rugby kit respectively.

Mike commented on the opportunities.

“Hopefully after children having a taste of the tata steel wizards league it will help see children join their local club outside school which will give them even more exposure to either rugby or netball.”

Sharon added what she has noticed already within the community.

“I have seen an increase in participation with a large intake of year 6’s starting to train and play games.

Hopefully overall you will see an increase in children playing sport, and encourage children to join clubs in the area, and give them a chance to play sport which some may not be able to do outside of a school environment.

The initiative involved three blocks of fixtures. The schools combine their overall results to determine what stage they participate in next. This promotes teamwork across the two sports and promotion around the school as a team as opposed to rugby and netball as a separate identity.

Mike spoke of the opportunities the initiative has created.

“… gives the children the opportunity and experience of representing their school.

The league has also been an opportunity for the Neath Port Talbot College students and some comprehensive schools in the area to be match officials who have previously been involved in past seasons, so, it’s great to see them have to opportunity to give back to the sport.”

Sharon added to this.

“Children are learning and understanding rules and gamesmanship, they are learning new skills, working within a team, supporting one another.

The schools should also see an increase in children wanting to play rugby or netball, which should increase numbers in after school club and make the children healthy by keeping active.”

The next stages of the Tata Steel Wizards League will be on January 25th 2024.

Preview: Aberavon v Ebbw Vale

Preview: Aberavon v Ebbw Vale

This Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Aberavon hosts Ebbw Vale in the Indigo Group Premiership at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

Last season, Ebbw Vale finished 5th in the Premiership, winning 14 of 22 games. This season, they’ve won 8 of 10 matches, starting with a narrow loss to Merthyr (earning a losing bonus point) and rebounding with a bonus point win against Pontypridd. Subsequent victories include Cardiff (bonus point win), RGC 1404 (bonus point win), Llandovery, Neath (bonus point win), and Bridgend. Despite a losing bonus point in an away match against Pontypool, they’ve since won at Newport and secured a recent bonus point victory at home against Swansea.

In the Premiership Cup, Ebbw Vale triumphed 40-19 over Neath in September and will face Cardiff in the quarter-finals next month.

Looking at the Aberavon-Ebbw Vale history in the Welsh National League, they’ve clashed 37 times, with 18 wins each and 1 draw. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, the Wizards lead 13-5 with 1 draw, but Ebbw Vale won their last meeting there last season.

The match, live on S4C Clic, will be officiated by referee Tom Spurrier, assisted by Simon Mills, Joseff Rees, and Mark Jones.

Match Report: Cardiff 64 – 26 Aberavon

Match Report: Cardiff 64 – 26 Aberavon
by Paul Williams

The injury-hit Wizards’ woes continued at Cardiff Arms Park as the home side raised their game after the interval following a hard-fought opening half. To their great credit, the young Aberavon side kept going until the very end and were rewarded with a bonus point thanks to two late tries added to their two first-half touchdowns.

Cardiff were quickly off the mark, and things looked ominous for the Wizards as first hooker Joey Tomlinson was driven over from an early lineout, then experienced number eight and skipper Morgan Allen crossed and, with another experienced campaigner, former Newport fly-half Arwel Robson, having converted both, the score stood at 14-nil after fifteen minutes.

A quick response from the Wizards was crucial, and it came almost immediately when turnover ball saw Frankie Jones sprinting away down the left from deep inside the Aberavon half. He handed on to Chris Banfield who took play up to the Cardiff 22 before kicking ahead, and as the home defence struggled to make the ball safe fly-half James Davies, enjoying a good first season in Aberavon colours following his move from Swansea, followed up and grounded the loose ball, adding the conversion to make it 14-7.

Soon afterwards the Wizards were on terms. Lineout ball courtesy of Rhodri Hughes was sent wide, and some good running from Jonathan Phillips and Frankie Jones took play to within a few metres of the home line where the Cardiff defence conceded a penalty under pressure. From the ensuing lineout drive hooker Cameron Lewis burst away and crashed over for Davies to again convert. As half-time approached, however, Robson darted over for an unconverted try to regain the initiative for the home side.

The second half, sadly, was where it all began to unravel for the Wizards, and while there was clearly more than a hint of a forward pass in a couple of the home side’s tries, there was no denying their overall superiority as they overwhelmed a brave but tiring Aberavon defence and took their try tally to ten, building a 64-14 lead with ten minutes left to play.

In fairness, the visitors spent that last ten minutes pressing hard for some kind of tangible reward, and their endeavours earned them that bonus point when first Frankie Jones squeezed in at the right-hand corner, touching down acrobatically for an unconverted try and then, with the very last play, back-row man Rhys Thomas took a pass at full tilt to race through to the posts for Stef Andrews to convert.

Date:
Saturday November 25th, 2023

Score:
Cardiff 64 – 26 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Callum Carson 51 min); Stef Andrews (capt), Frankie Jones, Sam Jardine (rep Bradley Roderick 55 min), Chris Banfield; James Davies (rep Scot Delnevo 63 min), Aron Hemmings; Jordan Walters (rep Rowan Jenkins 53 min), Cameron Lewis (rep Saul Hurley 58 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 53 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes (rep James Clegg 58 min), Rhys Thomas, Travis Huntley (rep Iestyn Davies 63 min), Ben Gregory.

Notes:
Sam Jardine appeared from Cwmavon RFC; Iestyn Davies appeared from Tondu RFC; James Clegg appeared from Trebanos RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – James Davies, Cameron Lewis, Frankie Jones, Rhys Thomas
C – James Davies (2), Stef Andrews

Cardiff Scorers:
T – Joey Tomlinson (2), Morgan Allen (2), Arwel Robson, Joe Goodchild, Nathan Hudd, Shaun O’Rourke, Dewi Cross, Jacob Lloyd
C – Arwel Robson (4), Harrison James (3)

Referee:
Jason Bessant

Man Of The Match:
1 – Chris Banfield
2 – Jonathan Phillips
3 – Shay Smallman

Time Line:
08 min: Cardiff – T – Joey Tomlinson & C – Arwel Robson (7 – 0)
15 min: Cardiff – T – Morgan Allen & C – Arwel Robson (14 – 0)
17 min: Aberavon – T – James Davies & C – James Davies (14 – 7)
25 min: Aberavon – T – Cameron Lewis & C – James Davies (14 – 14)
35 min: Cardiff – T – Arwel Robson (19 – 14)
40+3 min: Half Time
44 min: Cardiff – T – Joey Tomlinson & C – Arwel Robson (26 – 14)
54 min: Cardiff – T – Joe Goodchild & C – Arwel Robson (33 – 14)
62 min: Cardiff – T – Morgan Allen & C – Harrison James (40 – 14)
65 min: Cardiff – T – Nathan Hudd & C – Harrison James (47 – 14)
70 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Frankie Jones
72 min: Cardiff – T – Shaun O’Rourke (52 – 14)
75 min: Cardiff – T – Dewi Cross (57 – 14)
78 min: Cardiff – T – Jacob Lloyd & C – Harrison James (64 – 14)
80+1 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Frankie Jones
80+2 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones (64 – 19)
80+7 min: Aberavon – T – Rhys Thomas & C – Stef Andrews (64 – 26)
80+8 min: Full Time

Team v Cardiff

Team v Cardiff

The Aberavon team to face Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Jonathan Phillips; Stef Andrews, Frankie Jones, Sam Jardine, Chris Banfield; James Davies, Aron Hemmings; Jordan Walters, Cameron Lewis, Chris Davies, Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Thomas, Travis Huntley, Ben Gregory.

Replacements:
Callum Carson, Scot Delnevo, Bradley Roderick, Saul Hurley, Iestyn Davies, James Clegg, Rowan Jenkins, Geraint James.

BEARHUG Partner with the Wizards.

Aberavon Rugby Club is proud to partner with BEARHUG to help aid player recovery.

Bearhug is on a mission to get the world moving with support from its quality bamboo compression solutions that aim to minimise aches and pains, reduce injuries and enhance recovery times. 

This makes it a natural partnership with Aberavon RFC who’s on field and off field activity within the community epitomise the mission.

Chris Davies, Head of Communications at Aberavon Rugby commented.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with an amazing company in Bearhug. Their products will help our players recover better and will reduce injuries.”

Rhys George from Bearhug said.

It is an honour for Bearhug to partner with Aberavon RFC, the opportunity for Bearhug a dynamic Welsh business that has grown with sales in over 30 countries globally to support Welsh sport at its grass roots.”

The current range of products consists of wrist, elbow, knee and ankle joint supports along with calf and thigh muscle sleeves and the team will be benefitting from these products to help strengthen their recovery protocols.

Chris Davies stated.

“We strive to support our players as best as we can away from the field to optimise performance and Bearhug specifically are integral to this support.”   

Rhys George added.

“Aberavon’s activity within its local community is something that was particularly attractive for us as brand partner.

This is something we would love to build on and reinforce the benefits of Bearhug for everyone’s activity levels, whether that be walking the dog or kicking a conversion.

Get a Bearhug and get moving – you’ll see us in the community soon!”


If you would more information about Bearhug or to purchase their products please visit their website https://getabearhug.com


To get 20% off at the checkout click this link or use WIZARDS20.

Preview: Cardiff v Aberavon

Preview: Cardiff v Aberavon

This Saturday, Aberavon heads to Cardiff Arms Park to face Cardiff in the Indigo Group Premiership, with kickoff at 2:30 p.m.

Last season, Cardiff finished in first place in the Premiership, winning 19 out of 22 games, then beat Newport in the first round of the league playoffs before losing to Llandovery in the playoff final.

This season, Cardiff began with a draw against Pontypridd in an away match, followed by a home victory against RGC 1404, earning a bonus point. However, they then suffered defeats against Ebbw Vale at home and Llandovery away. The Blue and Blacks rebounded with consecutive wins, securing bonus points in both matches against Neath at home and Bridgend away. Despite a home loss to Pontypool, Cardiff managed to salvage a losing bonus point. A defeat at home against Newport followed, but they secured a victory away from home against Swansea last weekend.

In the Cup, Cardiff beat Newport 38 – 15 in September and will play at Ebbw Vale in the quarter-final stage next month.

In their head-to-head Welsh National League history, Aberavon and Cardiff have met 41 times, with the Blue & Blacks leading the series 22 – 18 with 1 game drawn. At Cardiff Arms Park, the home side leads 15 – 5 with 1 game drawn, and have won the last five times the teams have played at the ground.

Referee Jason Bessant will oversee the upcoming Saturday game, supported by Steffan Edwards and Mark Jones as assistant referees.