Team v Llanelli

The Aberavon team to face Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday at 2:30pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Joe Gage; Chris Banfield, Chay Smith, Joe Thomas, Frankie Jones; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett; Rhys Fawcett, Cameron Lewis, Geraint James, Shay Smallman, Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Replacements:
Rhodri Cole, Aled Rees, Matthew Jenkins, Ieuan Davies, Lee Purnell, Sam Pailor, Rowan Jenkins, Nicky Thomas.

Preview: Llanelli v Aberavon

Aberavon (1st) travel to Parc y Scarlets to take on Llanelli (6th) in the Indigo Group Premiership Cup this Saturday, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

The West Walians have had a tough season so far with them losing all five of their games. They started their season with a 17 – 43 loss at Aberavon before picking up a losing bonus point at home to Bridgend (18 – 21). Two away games followed with Llanelli losing at Llandovery (12 – 39) and then Swansea (15 – 53). Last weekend, they lost 24 – 27 at home to Carmarthen Quins.

Looking at the Premiership Cup, in “attack”, Llanelli have scored 17.2 points on average per game (ranked 6th) and 2.8 tries (ranked 3rd). In “defence” they have conceded 36.6 points on average per game (ranked 6th) and 4.8 tries (ranked 6th). Aberavon have scored 27.6 points per game (ranked 1st) and 3.6 tries (ranked joint 1st), and conceded 14.6 points (ranked 2nd) and 1.4 tries (ranked 1st).

Looking back to the 2003-04 season, when Aberavon met Llanelli at Stradey Park, Llanelli outside half Ceiron Thomas and his opposite number Jamie Davies traded penalties before Daran Griffiths scored a try at the end of the opening quarter. Davies converted and kicked another penalty after half-hour to give the Wizards a 13 – 3 lead. However, a try by wing Daniel Rogers and conversion by Thomas saw Aberavon’s lead reduce to just 3 points at the interval. The home side took the lead early in the second half when full-back Lee Byrne released centre Richard Davies for an unconverted try. A third Davies penalty helped the Wizards retake the lead before Richard Lewis scored a try in the corner. Davies added the extras to give the Wizards a 23 – 15 lead after 64 minutes. Rogers scored his second try of the game soon after with Thomas converting to reduce Aberavon’s lead to just one point. Ricky Price scored the Wizards third try of the game in the last ten minutes of the game. Thomas and Davies traded further penalties late on with the Aberavon holding out to win 31 – 25 despite playing the last ten minutes down to 14 players.

The Wizards team that day was: Richard Lewis; Daran Griffiths, Aled James, Gareth Jones (rep Darren Ryan), Ricky Price; Jamie Davies, Dan Hawkins; Dinlle Francis (rep Mike Harris), James Jones (rep Jon Owen), Paul Breeze, Steve Rees (rep Dafydd Owen), Chris Gittins, Jamie Summers (rep Matthew Powell), Richard Morris, Steffan Edwards.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Stephen Allsop, aided by Wayne Davies and Colin Kirkhouse.

Sam Pailor Signs for the Wizards

On Saturday against Llandovery Sam Pailor featured on the bench scoring a try once on the field. Although this was not his debut.

32 year-old Pailor played for Aberavon in 2009 in a home win against Cardiff 41-40 debuting off the bench replacing Chris Davies.

“Aberavon is a traditional Welsh rugby club with strong values and clear direction”, commented Pailor.

Aberavon Head Coach Jason Hyatt said.

“We are delighted to welcome Sam to the Wizards family.

Sam has vast experience at second row and flanker, he has gained experience in the English Championship, as well as in the Welsh Premiership”.

Pailor has played for Cardiff, Bedwas, Swansea, Pontypool, Ealing, Doncaster, Coventry and Bedford.

The new signing is quite the character. When asked what he would bring to the club his reply was simple; “I will bring the average age up”.

Match Report: Aberavon 18 – 24 Llandovery

by Paul Williams

A losing bonus point proved just enough for Aberavon to hang on to the top spot in the West conference of the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, albeit with their lead over second-placed Llandovery reduced to a single point.

Matches between these two teams have evolved into invariably tense affairs just as the respective clubs have evolved, during well over two decades, into quality outfits that can compete with the best in Welsh club rugby.

A hard-fought affair from the very start, it took almost a quarter of the match for any change to the scoreboard, coming after a raid into the visitors ’22’ saw the Wizards go close a couple of times before the hard-working Ashton Evans crashed over the line. Teenager Dan Edwards, a hero of the previous week’s victory at Carmarthen, slotted the conversion to make it 7-nil.

Almost inevitably the Drovers struck back on the half-hour, with experienced wing Aaron Warren crossing in the corner for an unconverted try.

Things began to unravel for the Wizards just before the interval when Frankie Jones was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball on, receiving a yellow card. By any measure it looked a harsh decision, inconsistent at best; Jones was making a tackle, wrapping his arms around his opponent in the prescribed manner when the attempted pass ricocheted off his arm, and several other similar incidents had not received the same sanction.

One must, however, play with the hand one is dealt, and the Wizards suddenly found themselves under intense pressure, with Llandovery’s numerical advantage resulting in the depleted home defence being stretched one way and then the other before hooker Dafydd Hughes scored close to the posts for former Aberavon skipper James Garland, now a player-coach at Llandovery, putting over the conversion to make the score 7-12 at the break. Meanwhile, the Wizards, having already lost hooker Luke Davies to injury, suffered an addition to a growing injury list when Jonny Phillips fell awkwardly after fielding a difficult high ball and did not re-emerge for the second half.

Edwards reduced the deficit to 10-12 after 45 minutes, sending over a long-range penalty from out wide, but with the match becoming an intensely tight affair he was replaced by the experienced Aled Thomas, who put over another penalty to regain the lead.

Hindsight, they say, is a wonderful thing, and Aberavon may regret withdrawing Edwards from the fray, as Thomas limped off the field with an ankle injury a few minutes later, leaving them with a somewhat unfamiliar looking back division with several players out of position. The situation was compounded by long-serving lock Sam Williams, the Wizards’ main lineout target, succumbing to an ankle strain sustained much earlier.

Just before the hour mark the visitors again took the lead, with former Wales Sevens star Lee Rees sprinting clear to the posts for Garland to convert, and with time rapidly running out the visitors looked to have sealed their victory when wing Callum Williams went over for an unconverted corner try.

A frenetic finish saw the home team redouble their efforts, and new signing Sam Pailor rounded off a period of intense pressure to crash over and reduce the deficit to six points. Further pressure by the Wizards saw them come frustratingly close to scoring a potentially match-winning try, but the disruptions to the line-up and a determined Llandovery defence combined to prevent any further score.

Score:
Aberavon 18 – 24 Llandovery

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Joe Gage half-time); Chris Banfield, Chay Smith, Joe Thomas, Frankie Jones; Dan Edwards (rep Aled Thomas 50 min, rep Iwan Temblett 61 min), Rhodri Cole (capt); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 60 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 28 min), Geraint James (rep Nicky Thomas 60 min), Shay Smallman, Sam Williams (rep Sam Pailor 61 min), Ashton Evans (temp rep Geraint James 66-75 min), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Replacements not used:
Billy Moxey.

Notes:
Dan Edwards appeared from the Ospreys; Billy Moxey and Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Ashton Evans, Sam Pailor
C – Dan Edwards
PG – Dan Edwards, Aled Thomas

Llandovery Scorers:
T – Aaron Warren, Dafydd Hughes, Lee Rees, Callum Williams
C – James Garland (2)

Referee:
Elgan Williams

Man Of The Match:
1 – Andrew Waite
2 – Lloyd Evans
3 – Rhodri Cole

Time Line:
19 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans & C – Dan Edwards (7 – 0)
32 min: Llandovery – T – Aaron Warren (7 – 5)
39 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Frankie Jones
40+3 min: Llandovery – T – Dafydd Hughes & James Garland (7 – 12)
40+8 min: Half Time
45 min: Aberavon – PG – Dan Edwards (10 – 12)
45 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Frankie Jones
52 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (13 – 12)
59 min: Llandovery – T – Lee Rees & James Garland (13 – 19)
63 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Nicky Thomas
74 min: Llandovery – T – Callum Williams (13 – 24)
75 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Nicky Thomas
80 min: Aberavon – T – Sam Pailor (18 – 24)
80+9 min: Full Time

Paul Williams (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Coverage

I recently turned on the TV one evening to be greeted by a trailer for what sounded like some or other sports coverage. “The rugby season begins tomorrow”, boomed the voice-over. Wondering briefly whether or not to reach for a calendar to confirm my understanding that we were in the final week of September, I then awaited the punchline, which was something along the lines of The United Rugby Championship, being broadcast live on BBC2 Wales.

What began life as The Celtic League back in the early 2000s has now morphed, via the Pro-12 and Pro-14 etc., into the United Rugby Championship, with the inclusion of the top four South African provincial teams. Now I have no problem with this, per-se. We have become accustomed to the Welsh Regions, Irish Provinces, Scottish and Italian superclubs, and anyone else who comes along, forming the fully professional tier of our sport, and gaining the bulk of media exposure.

What I do have a problem with, however, is a mainstream broadcaster proclaiming that the rugby season began only when those teams started to take part in competitive matches, completely ignoring the fact that club sides, from the Indigo Premiership right down through the divisions that encompass the very many community clubs where the stars of tomorrow are even now learning the rudiments of the sport under the guidance of dedicated volunteers and parents giving up their valuable time, have been toiling away for weeks, with some competitions kicking off in late August and even the semi-professional tier playing preparatory ‘friendly’ fixtures before our season began in earnest a week earlier than the BBC would have us believe.

At the risk of repeating myself, my own commitment to the sport of Rugby Union is as a lifelong follower of Aberavon RFC. I grew up listening to tales of family members past and present who’d played for the Wizards, and have the emotional attachment to my club that only comes from having spent most of my life following the fortunes of the men in Blood and Black. This has culminated in a current situation in which both my wife Elaine and I are amongst the small army of voluntary workers who help in some small way to keep the wheels of the club turning. While intending no disrespect, I cannot summon the same affection for a team that was formed less than twenty years ago, and although I have been known to attend rugby at what was at the time called the Liberty Stadium, I remain Aberavon through and through.

What is disappointing, however, is the apparent reluctance of the media to spare the sport, at our level, anything more than the odd mention. Now I know that our epic 2021-22 season promotional video, featuring an impassioned performance from the one and only Michael Sheen, raised a few eyebrows and inspired the odd news article, but the main rugby-related item I happened across in the Welsh media was an article bemoaning the fact that the Ospreys v Cardiff ‘local derby’ a couple of weeks ago only pulled in 5700-odd spectators, segueing into a long post mortem as to why this should be the case. Now I’ve already help up my hand in the previous paragraph as to why I wasn’t there, but that isn’t the point I’m trying to make here. Try and find anything more than the most basic coverage of club rugby in Wales and you’re guaranteed to draw a blank. I stopped buying the South Wales Evening Post when they stopped covering the club game, even though our resident gentleman of the press and good friend of mine Howard Evans was prepared to furnish them with match reports and news from the Talbot Athletic Ground free of charge, after they’d decided they would no longer pay him for his efforts.

On a related matter, it is with great disappointment that I note Phil Steele is no longer a feature of our diet of televised rugby. Phil has been a fairly frequent visitor to Aberavon in recent seasons – a genuine guy with a genuine passion for club rugby at all its levels, and a man who had played the sport during the era when club rugby was all there was, and therefore possesses an understanding of what the Aberavons and the Llandoverys of this world are all about. He has an empathy for the club game that goes way beyond the role of a commentator – to provide an example of this, having been told by another of Aberavon’s matchday volunteers of the devastating bereavement that my wife and I went through in February of last year, he took the trouble to get hold of my phone number and called me, at home, to express his condolences. And I’d be prepared to bet he’d have done the same for any of the many people with whom he’s acquainted across the length and breadth of the club game in Wales.

Enjoy the game.

Howard Evans (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Today, we not only welcome the Drovers players, committee and supporters, but we also welcome a side that plays good open rugby.

There have been several strong links between the two clubs and hopefully this afternoon we will see the return of James Garland, a man who gave his very best for the ‘Wizards’ as a player and a leader.

James began in brilliant fashion in a walloping of Cardiff only hours after I had told my wife that this young chap replacing the injured Jamie Davies would be in real trouble.

Instead, he almost beat Cardiff single-handed. Then, he was cruelly dropped after his last-second drop shot from 30 metres at Ebbw Vale had won us a tight match. He moved on, but luckily he was to follow Lyndon Lewis on the trail back to the TAG.

Lyndon, a former Aberavon captain, was not only at Vardre with James, but I believe he was a schoolmaster who taught his protege.

They were not the only ones who were at both clubs and of course, we have Howard Thomas back with us and picking up the brilliant coaching job he had started after ending his playing career.

Many other Llandovery names come to mind on and off the pitch. Iestyn Thomas was a splendid player and coach, the Williams brothers, Huw S.Thomas, Gareth Salt (a good, honest man), the incredible Handel Davies, who has not yet entered the Tour de France, but who probably looks to outspeed Les Keen and Ray Giles.

Aberavon should have signed No 8 forward Richard Brooks from Bonymaen, but our loss was Llandovery’s gain.

I must say a word for the Aberavon squad, who, despite injuries, have started in fine fashion. Obviously, I hope it continues today, but it will be no easy ride.

Let’s hope for a real thriller.

Action Replay (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Carmarthen Quins 3-26 Aberavon
Principality Cup, 9th October 2021

by Paul Williams

Not a high-scoring ‘try festival’ but, make no mistake, this was an absorbing and entertaining contest between two of the best teams in the Premiership, with a superbly organised Aberavon defence ultimately taking much of the credit, with the visitors limited to a single early penalty despite having their fair share of possession and territory.

Amidst all this were cameo performances that caught the eye, none more so than the competitive debut of fly-half Dan Edwards, stepping into the role while the experienced Aled Thomas looked on while recovering from a hamstring strain. Having only turned 18 a matter of weeks previously, the Cwmafan youngster produced an accomplished display in all-round play, with the added bonus of a 100% goalkicking success rate.

Acting skipper Will Price was at the heart of this Aberavon performance, with his powerful ball-carrying complementing his strength in the tackle. Around him his colleagues without exception combined to form well-organised defensive wall, and each and every Aberavon player should share the credit for keeping their line intact. A threequarter line comprising, Price aside, Joe Thomas, Chris Banfield and Stef Andrews is never going to be the biggest, but the assertion that ‘size matters’ was confounded by their eagerness to get to grips with the Quins’ big ball carriers, while half-backs Temblett and Edwards were also noticeably unfazed by what confronted them. Meanwhile at the back, Jonny Phillips celebrated his 30th birthday with a flawless performance in the 15 jersey, capping it off with a couple of superbly judged ’50-22′ touchfinders.

Although the home side got off to a promising start, with a simple penalty goal kicked by Josh Batcup putting them ahead after four minutes when the Aberavon midfield strayed offside. It was a short-lived advantage, though, as the Wizards struck back just a minute later in emphatic style. A midfield burst from the irrepressible Price pierced the home defence, and flanker Ashton Evans was on hand to receive the offload, thundering on before sending scrum-half Iwan Temblett in at the posts for a fine try. Dan Edwards added the conversion.

Fifteen minutes of play swinging from end to end followed, with neither side adding to their tally, and the pattern looked set to continue when the Quins were awarded a scrum inside their ’22’. While most observers expected a straightforward clearance to touch, the Aberavon pack had other ideas, and the front row of Rowan Jenkins, Luke Davies and Geraint James did what they’ve been doing since the season began, unceremoniously driving the home eight back off the ball and, with the solid drive of locks Shay Smallman and Sam Williams keeping the scrum going forward, and flankers Ashton Evans and Lloyd Evans keeping things on an even keep for Andrew Waite to superbly control the ball at his feet until experienced Quins flanker Nic Cudd was adjudged to have illegally kicked the ball clear of the scrum, earning himself a yellow card and Aberavon a penalty try.

With play continuing to ebb and flow, the Wizards’ eleven-point lead looked more promising than such a margin might normally appear, such was the ferocity of their defence, and so it proved to be. The only further score in the first half was a huge penalty from Edwards to make it 3-17 at the break.

Edwards repeated the feat after the break, and one had to wonder whether there was a difference in fitness levels between the two teams when Carmarthen began to make wholesale changes while the Wizards were still going strong. This was borne out as the match wore on, with the home side’s error count climbing rapidly, and even though the Wizards lost first Sam Williams and then Andrew Waite to the sin-bin for similar technical offences, effectively leaving them one man short for the entire final quarter, there remained no way through for the home runners. Instead, the Wizards were able to pressurise the Quins into conceding two further kickable penalties, both of which were turned into points by Edwards.

Another interested spectator was Lee Purnell. The big flanker left the field injured – an almost unheard-of sight – at Bridgend the previous week but is on the mend and was hoping to be available soon. He said that he found watching a frustrating experience as he likes to be in the thick of the action. That much is self-evident to anyone who has seen him play!

Team v Llandovery

The Aberavon team to face Llandovery at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Saturday at 2:30pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Jonathan Phillips; Chris Banfield, Chay Smith, Joe Thomas, Frankie Jones; Dan Edwards, Rhodri Cole; Rowan Jenkins, Luke Davies, Geraint James, Shay Smallman, Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Replacements:
Iwan Temblett, Joe Gage, Aled Thomas, Cameron Lewis, Billy Moxey, Sam Pailor, Rhys Fawcett, Nicky Thomas.

Preview: Aberavon v Llandovery

Aberavon (1st) welcome Llandovery (2nd) to the Talbot Athletic Ground this Saturday in the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

The Drovers have won three of their four games this season with them kicking off their campaign with a 21 – 5 home win over Swansea, after leading 18 – 0 after half-hour of play. Flanker Stuart Worrall scored a try for the home side, who were also awarded a penalty try. Outside-half Angus O’Brien kicked three penalties.

In their second game, Llandovery won 21 – 10 away to Carmarthen Quins. The Drovers led 14 – 10 at half-time with centre Rhodri Jones and prop Harri O’Connor scoring tries, whilst outside-half James Garland converted both. In the second half, the former Wizard scored a try himself which he converted.

The following week the Drovers welcomed Llanelli to Church Bank and ran out 39 – 12 winners, gaining a bonus point in the process. They scored six tries with full-back Will Thomas, centre Rhodri Wall, outside-half James Garland, wing Aaron Warren and lock Osian Davies all touching down, with them also being awarded a penalty try. Garland converted two tries and kicked a penalty.

Last weekend, Llandovery welcomed Bridgend to Church Bank. The Drovers were leading the Ravens 19 – 5 by half-time thanks to tries by hooker Dafydd Hughes, centre Rhodri Jones and wing Callum Williams with two conversions by outside-half James Garland. However, the visitors outscored their hosts 20 – 0 in the second half to win 25 – 19 and give the Drovers their first defeat of the season with them picking up a losing bonus point.

Looking at the Premiership Cup, in “attack”, Llandovery have scored 25.0 points on average per game (ranked 2nd) and 3.5 tries (ranked 2nd). In “defence” they have conceded 13.0 points on average per game (ranked 2nd) and 1.8 tries (ranked 2nd). Aberavon have scored 30.0 points per game (ranked 1st) and 4.0 tries (ranked 1st), and conceded 12.3 points (ranked 1st) and 0.8 tries (ranked 1st).

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in January 2000 there were club debuts for New Zealander Scott Leighton and replacement back-row forward Ian Moore. The Wizards were 17 – 0 up after 23 minutes thanks to tries by centre Ian Jones and Gareth King, with outside half Leighton converting both and kicking a penalty. The Drovers hit back on the half-hour mark when flanker Gareth Thomas went over for a try. In injury time at the end of the first half wing, Daran Griffiths scored the Wizards third try to make the score 22 – 5 to Aberavon at the interval.

Llandovery hit back again at the start of the second half when wing Tracy Lewis scored a try that was converted by outside half Peter Lloyd. However, Aberavon came back with a try by captain Mark Evans and then by flanker Chris Kinsey. Leighton added a conversion to make the score 34 – 12. Late in the game, number eight Richard Morris scored the Wizards sixth try with replacement James Taylor adding the extras to make the final score 41 – 12 to Aberavon.

The Wizards team that day was: Gareth King; Daran Griffiths, Ian Jones, Barry Maddocks, Paul Bamsey; Scott Leighton, Aled Thomas; Robert Price, Jason Hyatt, Colin Noon, Mark Evans (capt), Ian Strang, Chris Kinsey, Richard Morris, Howard Merrett. Replacements: James Taylor, Ian Moore, Matthew McCarthy, Lloyd Howell, Mickey Dixon, Mark Thomas.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Elgan Williams, aided by Jason Morris and Kath Pritchard.

Autumn International Tickets

We have a number of tickets available for the Wales Autumn Internationals in Cardiff including the first game against New Zealand.

If you are interested and would like more information please contact seasontickets@aberavonwizards.co.uk

  • Wales v New Zealand | Principality Stadium | Saturday 30th October 2021 | KO – 17:15
  • Wales v South Africa | Principality Stadium | Saturday 6th November 2021 | KO – 17:30
  • Wales v Fiji | Principality Stadium | Sunday 14th November 2021 | KO – 15:15
  • Wales v Australia | Principality Stadium | Saturday 20th November 2021 | KO – 17:30