Match Report: Llandovery 27 – 21 Aberavon

by Paul Williams

With both teams having some time ago qualified for home quarter-finals in the Premiership Cup there was very little at stake in this final pool match, but Aberavon can feel more than a little hard-done-by with regard to a crucial penalty that set up the position from which Llandovery were able to steal the result in the dying moments.

The Wizards fielded a blend of youth and experience for what was always going to be a tough encounter. Academy lock Tristan Davies partnered Sam Williams at lock and sent well before giving way to Shay Smallman early in the second half, while another teenager, Dan Edwards, came off the bench during the second half to make an impact. With Aled Thomas still nursing a leg injury Joe Thomas started at fly-half.

The Wizards made much of the early running, but twelve minutes of hard graft had elapsed before they were able to fully breach the home defence. When it came, however, it was an absolute beauty of a try, launched from near halfway with the ball being spun out to Stef Andrews on the left wing. Having eluded the first-up defence, he then kept the ball in play with a magical back-handed offload to flanker Lloyd Evans, who showed his own brand of magic by sending up a perfectly judged kick and then catching it on the full, passing inside to Rhodri Cole who made the line. Chris Banfield converted with a fine kick from out wide.

Five minutes later more pressure on the home line saw the Wizards double their tally when Cole sent out a long pass to Thomas, whose acceleration took him clean through the home defence to touch down near the posts for Banfield to again add the extras.

As half time approached, Lloyd Evans left the field with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, and with no other open-side specialist available Lee Purnell, one of the great unsung Aberavon heroes of recent times was forced, not for the first time, to adapt to the role. Meanwhile Llandovery reduced the arrears when much-travelled wing Ashley Evans was put clear for a try, converted by fly-half Kristian Jones, to make it 7-14 at the interval.

Just after the interval the scores were level, wing Aaron Warren crashing over in the corner with Jones again converting. Play continued to swing from end to end, but in the often-frantic close-quarter stuff it seemed that the home side were increasingly getting the upper hand and, crucially, the benefit of any fifty-fifty decisions.

Jones landed a brace of penalties to take the score to 20-14 with ten minutes left to play, but the Wizards were not done. Forward pressure saw them advance towards the home line before the ball came back to Dan Edwards. The youngster put in an inch-perfect cross-kick, and Banfield challenged for the ball as it came down but it was knocked back by a defender and seemed to be heading harmlessly for the dead-ball line when Jonny Phillips, having only just replaced Frankie Jones, came from nowhere at top speed to touch it down with inches to spare. Edwards stepped up and, with no sign of nerves, sent over the conversion from the right-hand touchline to put his side ahead by a single point.

That should have been that, but there was one final twist. With Cole waiting to feed a scrum on halfway, the front rows went to ground and Geraint James was adjudged to have been the cause. Shouts of protest came from the Aberavon dugout, a viewpoint from whence one could clearly observe at close quarters James’ opponent tucking his elbow under and pulling James down, while the referee, standing on the opposite side of the scrum, would have had no sight of what happened. The assistant referee, despite being some twenty or so metres downfield, was called upon to confirm or otherwise, and found in favour of the home side. The Wizards were denied the opportunity to claim possession and run down the clock, and instead the penalty was kicked deep into Aberavon territory, from whence intense pressure ended with centre Rhodri Jones forcing his way over for Kristian Jones to again convert.

It brought an otherwise entertaining and absorbing contest to a close, and while there was no real prize at stake, the Wizards will feel somewhat disappointed at the defeat and the manner in which it came.

Score:
Llandovery 27 – 21 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Chris Banfield; Stef Andrews, Chay Smith (rep Dan Edwards 63 min), Will Price (capt) (rep Rheon James 59 min), Frankie Jones (rep Jonathan Phillips 70 min); Joe Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 60 min), Cameron Lewis (rep Ieuan Davies 46 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 46 min), Tristan Davies (rep Shay Smallman 43 min), Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (rep Lee Purnell 36 min)

Notes:
Tristan Davies & Dan Edwards appeared from the Ospreys.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Rhodri Cole, Joe Thomas, Jonathan Phillips
C – Chris Banfield (3)

Llandovery Scorers:
T – Ashley Evans, Aaron Warren, Rhodri Jones
C – Kristian Jones (3)
PG – Kristian Jones (2)

Referee:
Gareth Newman

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

Time Line:
12 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Chris Banfield (0 – 7)
18 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Thomas & C – Chris Banfield (0 – 14)
40 min: Llandovery – T – Ashley Evans & C – Kristian Jones (7 – 14)
40+1 min: Half Time
42 min: Llandovery – T – Aaron Warren & C – Kristian Jones (14 – 14)
46 min: Llandovery – PG – Kristian Jones (17 – 14)
70 min: Llandovery – PG – Kristian Jones (20 – 14)
74 min: Aberavon – T – Jonathan Phillips & C – Chris Banfield (20 – 21)
80+3 min: Llandovery – T – Rhodri Jones & C – Kristian Jones (27 – 21)
80+6 min: Full Time

Team v Llandovery

The Aberavon team to face Llandovery at Church Bank on Saturday at 2:30pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Chris Banfield; Stef Andrews, Chay Smith, Will Price (capt), Frankie Jones; Joe Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rowan Jenkins, Cameron Lewis, Chris Davies, Tristan Davies, Sam Williams, Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Replacements:
Dan Edwards, Jonathan Phillips, Rheon James, Ieuan Davies, Lee Purnell, Jordan Walters, Shay Smallman, Geraint James.

Preview: Llandovery v Aberavon

There is a top-of-the-table clash in the final pool game of the Indigo Group Premiership Cup this Saturday as Aberavon (1st – 40 points) travel to Church Bank to take on Llandovery (2nd – 38 points), kick-off at 2:30 pm.

Like the Wizards, the Drovers have won 8 of their 9 games this season. They started their campaign with three straight wins as they saw off Swansea, Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli with them picking up a bonus point in that latter game. Their winning run came to an end when Bridgend beat them at Church Bank but the Drovers gained a losing bonus point in the process. Since then, Llandovery have won five straight with them beating Aberavon, Swansea, Carmarthen, Llanelli and, last weekend, Bridgend. The Drovers picked up bonus points in all but one of those wins.

Both Aberavon and Llandovery are already guaranteed to get home games in the quarter-finals of the Premiership Cup. Whoever finishes top of the West pool will be home to the fourth-placed team in the East, whilst the runner-up in the West will be home to the third-placed team in the East. With one round to go in the East, three teams could finish third or fourth. Currently, Merthyr are third (23 pts), RGC 1404 are fourth (21 pts) and Pontypridd are fifth (19 pts). Next Saturday, Merthyr are away to Cardiff (2nd) whilst RGC 1404 host Pontypridd.

Looking at the Premiership Cup, in “attack”, Llandovery have scored 29.6 points on average per game (ranked 1st) and 4.2 tries (ranked 1st). In “defence” they have conceded 11.8 points on average per game (ranked 1st) and 1.7 tries (ranked 1st). Aberavon have scored 28.2 points per game (ranked 2nd) and 4.0 tries (ranked 2nd), and conceded 16.3 points (ranked 2nd) and 2.0 tries (ranked 2nd).

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in October 2010, things weren’t looking good for Aberavon at the interval after they found themselves losing 6 – 13 and facing the prospect of playing a second half into the strong wind. The Wizards started well and were ahead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two penalties by Matthew Jarvis. Former Wizard Cerith Rees kicked two penalties of his own for Llandovery to tie the game before a Nio Aiono try, converted by Rees, gave the Drovers a seven-point lead at the interval.

However, the Wizards came out after the interval and immediately turned up the tempo. The young midfield trio of Jarvis, Ashley Beck and Ben John combined well, and a policy of running the ball at every opportunity into the wind began to pay off. In a seven-minute spell, the Wizards scored three tries when first David Pritchard, then Neil White, then Ricky Thomas all touched down. Jarvis converted all three to give Aberavon a fourteen-point lead. Rees kicked a penalty for the home side on the hour mark, but the Wizards had the last score when Richard Carter scored a try. Jarvis added the extras to make the final score 34 – 16 to Aberavon.

The Wizards team that day was: Ricky Thomas; Richard Carter, Ben John, Ashley Beck, Richard Thomas; Matthew Jarvis (rep Jamie Davies), David Pritchard (rep Andrew Jenkins); Neil White (rep Lloyd Howell), Christian Richards (rep Gareth Harvey), Anthony Edwards (rep Craig Cross), Richard Morris (rep Nathan Strong), Gavin Ronan (rep Sam Williams), James King, Tom Smith, Chris Davies (capt).

The referee for Saturday’s game is Stephen Allsop, aided by Gareth Newman and Richard Brace.

Aberavon V Swansea Streamed Live

INDIGO GROUP PREMIERSHIP LIVE ON S4C CLIC

The Welsh Rugby Union will team up with S4C to show ‘The Indigo Group Premiership’ matches live online every Thursday night throughout the season ahead.

Starting with Swansea’s trip to face Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Thursday 9th December (7.30pm), a different league game will be shown each week.

All of The Indigo Group Premiership clubs are set to benefit from live coverage at least once in the first seven weekends alone, with the matches to be shown via a new S4C series – Rygbi’r Prem.

The matches will be available online on the S4C Clic player, the S4C Facebook Live page and S4C YouTube page and will also feature on the WRU’s own website and WRU Facebook.

There will be 14 rounds of matches to feast on and, in addition to the Thursday night live game, there will be a weekly highlights show shared across the S4C Chwaraeon and WRU social platforms.

Rygbi’r Prem commentary will be provided in Welsh, with an English language option on Clic and You Tube. Several familiar rugby figures will provide analysis throughout the season, with Whisper Cymru will produce S4C’s Indigo Premiership coverage.

“We have worked closely with S4C on a new and exciting plan for The Indigo Group Premiership which we hope will bring in new audiences as well as satisfy the existing fan-base for the very best of Welsh club rugby,” said WRU community director Geraint John.

“All clubs in The Indigo Group Premiership are set to feature in at least one live match during the season, in a regular slot on Thursday evenings.”

“We expect these matches to be watched in clubhouses up and down the country as the competition builds to its exciting crescendo.”

“Merthyr remain the holders after lifting the title in 2019, before the pandemic curtailed the season the following year. But we have introduced a brand new trophy and welcomed a new title sponsor since that time, so we are now searching for the first club to lift our new Indigo Group Premiership silverware.”

Lauren Jenkins will present Rygbi’r Prem, while Whisper Cymru will produce S4C’s Indigo Group Premiership coverage.

Lauren Jenkins said: “The Indigo Group Premiership has it all; quality players and coaches, fierce rivalries and competitive games full of tries. This is the highest level of Welsh club rugby and it’s the bedrock of the game in Wales. And S4C will be the only place where you can follow the Premiership, so make sure you join us online every Thursday night.”

Sue Butler, S4C Sports Commissioner, said: “This is an exciting new venture and one we hope will attract new viewers to the Welsh club game, as well as providing a window on the league for the regular supporters. We’ve developed our online sports coverage over the past few years, and our live coverage of rugby and football, as well as hockey and netball matches, has proved popular. It’s great to partner with the clubs and the Welsh Rugby Union and to showcase the Premiership.”

Live Online Matches:


Thursday 9 December Aberavon v Swansea 7.30pm

Thursday 16 December Carmarthen Quins v Llanelli 7.30pm
Sunday 27 December Ebbw Vale v Newport 2.30pm
Sunday 3 January 2022 Llanelli v RGC 1404 5.30pm
Thursday 13 January Bridgend v Pontypridd 7.30pm
Thursday 27 January Cardiff v Ebbw Vale 7.30pm

Match Report: Aberavon 22 – 17 Carmarthen Quins

by Paul Williams

The Wizards kept their season rolling along nicely with yet another bonus-point win in this penultimate match of the Indigo Premiership Cup pool stage.

With the WRU having now confirmed that the top four clubs in each of the East and West pools will go through to the quarter-finals of a knockout tournament, and with Llandovery and Aberavon guaranteed the top two places in the West, the Quins were keen to cement their third place with a win. As it turned out, the single losing bonus point they gained was sufficient to remove the mathematical possibility of Swansea overtaking them, and the top three are now set in stone, with Bridgend and Swansea set to battle it out for the fourth qualifying spot.

The match, to an extent, followed a pattern similar to that of the Wizards’ victory at Carmarthen Park a few weeks ago. The Quins enjoyed much of the possession and territory but found the Aberavon defence difficult to break down for long periods. The Wizards, meanwhile, struck four times in devastating fashion, and although the visitors ultimately ran in three tries of their own, they were always chasing the game.

A quarter of the match had passed before the Wizards opened the scoring, putting the visitors’ defence under intense pressure before an accurate kick from fly-half Joe Thomas found Aled Rees out wide on the left. The powerful wing still had a lot to do, but he cut inside the cover and powered through a couple of attempted tackles to touch down wide out.

Things then reverted to type, with the visitors pounding away against an unyielding defence that became increasingly adept at turning over possession to frustrate their opponents. The deadlock was broken when one such turnover, courtesy of Andrew Waite, led to a bout of interpassing down the right wing with Frankie Jones eventually speeding clear to score in the right-hand corner. Chris Banfield converted magnificently from the touchline to make the half-time score 12-nil.

The pattern continued until 15 minutes into the second half when left wing Morgan Griffiths managed to elude the home defence for once and squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try, but almost immediately the Wizards found another gear, and with Rhodri Cole in inspirational form play was switched one way then another, with Banfield eventually sending out a huge pass that found skipper-for-the-night Lloyd Evans haring down the touchline en-route to an acrobatic touch-down in the right-hand corner.

Five minutes later the Quins had again reduced the arrears when replacement scrum-half Rhodri Davies took a quick tap-penalty and raced in at the posts for fly-half Jac Wilson to convert.

Wilson was also to add a late try having intercepted a loose pass near half-way, but by then the Wizards had all but sealed the win as Banfield fielded a speculative kick and set off on a counterattacking run that split the Quins’ defence, handing on to Joe Thomas who released the speeding Chay Smith down the touchline and over in the corner for the try of the match.

This was very much a team effort from the Wizards against opponents who are, make no mistake, a quality team, and credit must go to all who played a part, with a high work-rate in defence creating the chances to claim possession and turn defence into attack with devastating results.

Score:
Aberavon 22 – 17 Carmarthen Quins

Aberavon Team:
Chris Banfield; Aled Rees (rep Jonathan Phillips 72 min), Chay Smith, Rheon James, Frankie Jones; Joe Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 49 min), Ieuan Davies, Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 49 min), Ashton Evans, Shay Smallman, Lee Purnell (rep Billy Moxey 63 min), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (capt).

Replacements not used:
Stef Andrews, Matthew Jenkins, Llew Phillips-Taylor, Lewis Marsh.

Notes:
Matthew Jenkins, Llew Phillips-Taylor and Billy Moxey appeared from Trebanos RFC. Lewis Marsh appeared from the Ospreys.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Aled Rees, Frankie Jones, Lloyd Evans, Chay Smith
C – Chris Banfield

Carmarthen Scorers:
T – Morgan Griffiths, Rhodri Davies, Jac Wilson
C – Jac Wilson

Referee:
Simon Mills

Man Of The Match:
1 – Chris Banfield
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Lloyd Evans

Time Line:
27 min: Aberavon – T – Aled Rees (5 – 0)
34 min: Carmarthen – Yellow Card – Lewys Millin
40+6 min: Carmarthen – End Yellow Card – Lewys Millin
40+9 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones & C – Chris Banfield (12 – 0)
40+11 min: Half Time
56 min: Carmarthen – T – Morgan Griffiths (12 – 5)
58 min: Aberavon – T – Lloyd Evans (17 – 5)
63 min: Carmarthen – T – Rhodri Davies & C – Jac Wilson (17 – 12)
64 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith (22 – 12)
73 min: Carmarthen – T – Jac Wilson (22 – 17)
80+1 min: Full Time

Paul Williams (Carmarthen Quins Programme Notes)

Goalposts

Yes, those things at either end of the pitch. Have you noticed how they never move?

However, in the rarified atmosphere of the corridors of power, things are somewhat different. A few days ago we learned of a change to what we understood to be the format of the Indigo Premiership Cup, the group stages of which are, of course, underway. In fact, not just underway but rapidly approaching their conclusion.

Now those particular goalposts, as we understood them, have moved. Whereas we were expecting to see the top two clubs from each pool of six go forward to play in a knockout competition involving two semi-finals and a final, to be played at dates, times and venues still unknown to the world at large, now we discover that it will in fact be the top four from each pool of six going forward to play in an eight-team knockout competition.

“So what?” I hear you ask. “More matches is good, isn’t it?”

Well, OK yes, but (and I appreciate that this will come as good news to our visitors this evening, as they currently sit in third place with a very high probability of progressing to the knockout stages) why not announce it at the start of the season? It wouldn’t surprise me if certain clubs who now have no chance of qualifying for the top four after 80% of the fixtures are completed, will be protesting that, having perhaps got off to a shaky start and having written off their chances of qualifying, would have taken a different approach to the later rounds instead of using them to try out new players and combinations. It would, in my opinion, be a valid complaint – in a post-lockdown season where pre-season player recruitment would have been more difficult than usual, opportunities to look at potential signings were extremely limited before the season began in earnest. At Aberavon, some years ago we suffered from goalposts suddenly being shifted beyond our reach, and it left behind a very bitter taste that lasted for quite a number of years. Things have moved on since then, I know, but memories still linger.

This also sees the Premiership Cup now firmly installed as the main competition for this season, as many have expressed the opinion that the league competition, due to begin next month, is likely to be a somewhat half-baked affair with everyone playing one another just the once, meaning that some have more home fixtures than others. Whoever finishes top, it will almost certainly be regarded as a lesser achievement than winners of a full-on home-and-away league programme.

Such things, however, are beyond our control, and on we must go regardless. At least this does change this evening’s match; whereas from a Carmarthen viewpoint it would have been something of a ‘dead rubber’ with no prize at stake for them, there is now the opportunity for them to cement their third place qualifying spot, and with a pretty good record here at the Talbot Athletic Ground, they’ll be fancying their chances, despite the Wizards’ fine performance in the idyllic Autumnal surroundings of Carmarthen Park just a few short weeks ago – sadly a dark and, no doubt, chilly November evening in Port Talbot is all we can offer by way of reciprocation!

Enjoy the game.

Howard Evans (Carmarthen Quins Programme Notes)

We welcome Carmarthen Quins tonight for the penultimate group match of the Principality Premiership Cup.

Changes to the format announced this week mean that the knockout stages will now include quarter-finals, and while Aberavon and Llandovery are guaranteed to qualify though, Carmarthen Quins are looking odds-on to join them with Bridgend and Swansea battling it out for the fourth spot from the West pool.

However, when will these final rounds be played? My guess is May 2022, when squads will have changed drastically due to injuries, retirements, transfers and regional calls.

Still, we must get on with it and Aberavon stand two points ahead of Llandovery with the Drovers away to Bridgend tonight and then comes the return between Llandovery and Aberavon on November 27.

Tonight may well see two friends and ‘veteran’ fly halves in opposition – one (Craig Evans) off the pitch and the other (Aled David Llewellyn Thomas) on it – if he survives the trip back from Bermuda.

As well as Craig, another ‘old man’, lock Haydn Pugh will be here. Haydn, a North Walian, has been a wonderful servant to the Mighty Quins, even if he did play a bit for Neath long ago!

The Quins play good rugby and even though they cannot move up the table, they will be doing their utmost to upset the ‘Wizards’.

We saw a good match last Saturday when Bridgend went closer than the 36-15 score suggests, but once more Aberavon took five points.

Tonight we welcome Gwyn Morris, the schoolmaster from Whitchurch in Cardiff, who I personally think is the best referee in Premiership rugby and one of the fittest.

Gwyn is yet another North Walian to see sense and come South, though I suspect he was just a youngster who later turned out for Cardiff HSOB as a flanker. From one who played No 8 for the same club, I just wish that I had played with him.

Gwyn ‘calls them as he sees them’ and you can’t be fairer than that.

Let us have a fine sporting match.

Action Replay (Carmarthen Quins Programme Notes)

Aberavon 36-15 Bridgend
Indigo Premiership Cup, 13th November 2021

by Paul Williams

Aberavon held onto their lead at the top of the West group with this bonus-point victory, having been made to work hard by a determined Bridgend team before going well clear in the final quarter.

With both teams missing some key personnel, the early stages were somewhat tentative as new combinations took time to settle in, and were further disrupted when Bridgend prop Curtis Hicks had the extreme misfortune to sustain a serious ankle injury, which led to a lengthy stoppage before the unfortunate victim was stretchered off.

On the resumption of play Aberavon full-back Chris Banfield landed a penalty-goal to open the scoring, but almost directly from the restart a defensive slip saw the Wizards fall behind as the visitors swiftly capitalised with full-back Ed Howley touching down at the posts for fly-half Jacob Chilcott to convert.

The Wizards were just as quick to strike back, with their pack taking control. A well-executed line-out became a well-organised driving maul that made short work of the twenty or so metres to the visitors’ try-line, with the familiar sight of hooker Ieuan Davies emerging from the pile of bodies having claimed the try. Banfield’s conversion attempt from way out on the right sailed inches wide of the posts.

It was a lead the Wizards were never again to lose, although Bridgend made them work hard to extend it beyond a handful of points. Half time arrived with a score of 15-7, with flanker Lloyd Evans having rounded off a series of forward drives by diving over a ruck to touch down, with Banfield converting.

The only score of the third quarter was a Chilcott penalty goal, but the Wizards turned up the intensity going into the latter stages, putting the visitors’ defence under intense pressure. After a series of forward drives that seemed to involve Ashton Evans’ effective ball-carrying at every phase, hooker Davies fed replacement prop Rhys Fawcett who drove over from close range with lock Sam Pailor adding his weight. Banfield again converted, taking the score to a more comfortable looking 22-10.

The result was effectively put beyond doubt when the visitors, increasingly desperate to escape the vice-like grip of the home pack, attempted to run the ball out of defence. Replacement wing Frankie Jones, apparently wise to their intentions, went racing up into the perfect position to intercept a long pass intended for Howley and run in unopposed beneath the posts for Banfield to convert.

A rare visit into home territory saw young replacement scrum-half Harvey Nash squeeze over from a line-out in the left-hand corner to reduce the arrears, but it proved to be no more than a consolation as the Wizards finished in style. As the ball ran loose from a ruck, Rheon James made ground down the right-hand touchline before being tackled. 17-year-old replacement scrum-half Rhodri Lewis then threw a huge pass across to Banfield in midfield, and he in turn sent an equally long and accurate pass to Joe Thomas out in the wide open spaces. The Bridgend defence, having been stretched one way then the other, finally gave way with Chay Smith running on to the ball at speed and leaving most of what remained of the cover in his wake before sending Stef Andrews over in the corner. Banfield converted with magnificent effort from the touchline, and a few minutes later the final whistle brought down the curtain on an absorbing match.

An absorbing match, perhaps, in which both sides deserve credit. For the Wizards, there were big performances from some players returning to action; prop Jordan Walters celebrated his first start of the season with a solid performance and a display of powerful ball-carrying and tackling, Shay Smallman continues to impress as one of this season’s big successes thus far, while the back row of Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite and Lloyd Evans combined superbly in all phases. There was also an Aberavon debut off the bench for Wales U20 lock Tristan Davies, whose play caught the eye several times. Bridgend, meanwhile, fielded an mainly young side that can surely only improve with experience.

Meanwhile, it would be remiss not to also mention the contribution of the match officials, in particular Simon Rees, one of Wales’ more experienced referees, whose consistency, fitness, positioning and decision-making were first-class.

Team v Carmarthen Quins

The Aberavon team to face Carmarthen Quins at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Friday at 7:30pm is…

Aberavon Starting XV:
Chris Banfield; Aled Rees, Chay Smith, Rheon James, Frankie Jones; Joe Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rhys Fawcett, Ieuan Davies, Chris Davies, Sam Pailor, Shay Smallman, Lee Purnell, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (capt).

Replacements:
Stef Andrews, Jonathan Phillips, Matthew Jenkins, Llew Phillips-Taylor, Billy Moxey, Ashton Evans, Rowan Jenkins, Geraint James.

Preview: Aberavon v Carmarthen Quins

Aberavon (1st – 35 points) welcome Carmarthen Quins (3rd – 21 points) to the Talbot Athletic Ground this Friday evening in the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, kick-off at 7:30 pm.

The Quins have won 5 of their 8 games this season. They kicked off their campaign with a bonus-point win at Bridgend (38 – 15) before losing at home to Llandovery (10 – 21). A win followed at Swansea (21 – 6) before Carmarthen lost at home again, this time to Aberavon (3 – 26). Two back-to-back wins followed as the Quins won at Llanelli (27 – 23) and then at home to Bridgend (27 – 12). At the start of this month, they lost at Llandovery (0 – 16) whilst, last weekend, they beat Swansea (24 – 21) at home.

Looking at the Premiership Cup, in “attack”, Carmarthen Quins have scored 18.8 points on average per game (ranked 5th) and 2.3 tries (ranked 6th). In “defence” they have conceded 17.6 points on average per game (ranked 3rd) and 1.9 tries (ranked joint 2nd). Aberavon have scored 29.0 points per game (ranked 2nd) and 4.0 tries (ranked 2nd), and conceded 16.3 points (ranked 2nd) and 1.9 tries (ranked joint 2nd).

Looking back at the first time both sides met in the league at the Talbot Athletic Ground (August 2000) the Wizards started well and had a lot of possession. However, some poor decision making meant that Aberavon failed to make the most of this possession and went into halftime just 6 – 3 up – two penalties for outside half Jamie Davies to a penalty by his opposite number Giles Thomas. In the second half, the visitors scrummaging improved and drew level on the hour through a second Thomas penalty. In the last 10 minutes of the match, both outside halves exchanged penalties. In injury time Davies kicked a fourth penalty only to be cancelled out by a drop goal by Thomas from near the touchline. However, two minutes into injury time, Davies slotted another penalty. As if it was an action replay from before, Thomas again levelled the matters on 15 all with his second drop goal. Final score Aberavon 15 – 15 Carmarthen Quins.

The Wizards team that day was: Ricky Price; Sam Greenaway, Paul Morgan, Barry Maddocks, Grant Radford; Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Mike Harris, Jason Hyatt, Mark Thomas (rep Lloyd Howell), Mervyn Meredith, Mark Evans (capt), Kevin Evans, Ian Moore (rep Richard Morris), Andrew Thomas (rep Howard Merrett).

The referee for Friday’s game is Simon Mills, aided by Aaron Parry and Anthony Price.