Match Report: Aberavon 10 – 16 Pontypridd
by Paul Williams
Aberavon fell to a third successive defeat thanks to a trio of second-half penalties from Pontypridd full-back Josh Phillips, but a once again very young Wizards line-up showed a great deal of promise and salvaged a losing bonus point.
The huge injury list at the Talbot Athletic Ground, in which any number of the club’s most influential players remain sidelined, has left Jason Hyatt and his coaching team with little option to give youth a chance, and a summer spent recruiting any number of rising stars has provided the Wizards with a crop of young talent that will only improve as they settle in alongside the more experienced and established squad members who are still to return to fitness.
One experienced player returning from injury was scrum-half Rhodri Cole, whose influence was evident early on as his accurate and swift service from the rucks stretched the visitors’ defence one way and then the other, being instrumental in setting up the position whereby fly-half James Davies, who is proving to be a great success following his close season arrival from Swansea, sent a superbly timed pass to Sam Jardine. The young centre, son of former Aberavon stalwart and skipper John, came onto the ball at top speed to leave the Pontypridd defence clutching at thin air as he raced clear to the posts for Davies to add the conversion.
Alas the high hopes arising from such a fine start were ultimately dashed. After an untidy spell that saw scrum penalties awarded against both teams, the visitors were awarded a penalty try after a five-metre scrum wheeled around and broke up, with the referee ruling that a probable try would have resulted but a transgression on the part of the home front row, the nature of which was a mystery to most onlookers. Davies added a penalty to give his side a penalties.
On a positive note, the Wizards had clearly worked hard to eradicate the defensive errors that had been their undoing at Merthyr a week earlier, and at no time did Pontypridd look likely to cross the home line, but ultimately they were able to hang on and claim the win, although the Wizards did have one golden try-scoring opportunity late on after the visitors’ defence had again been stretched left then right, but the final pass went to ground and the opportunity was lost.
The run-up to Christmas sees the Wizards facing a tough schedule, with just the one home match against high-flying Ebbw Vale sandwiched between a trip to Cardiff and successive trips to Llandovery as they face the Drovers in Cup and League on consecutive weekends.
Saturday November 18th, 2023
Aberavon 10 – 16 Pontypridd
Scott Delnevo (rep Stef Andrews 50 min); Jay Baker (rep Bradley Roderick 62 min), Frankie Jones, Sam Jardine, Chris Banfield; James Davies, Rhodri Cole (rep Aron Hemmings 56 min); Rowan Jenkins (capt) (rep Jordan Walters 62 min), Cameron Lewis, Chris Davies, Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Thomas, Travis Huntley, Iestyn Davies (rep Cameron Loveys 50 min).
Replacements Not Used:
Ellis Major, James Clegg, Morgan James.
Sam Jardine appeared from Cwmavon RFC; Iestyn Davies & Ellis Major appeared from Tondu RFC; Cameron Loveys & James Clegg appeared from Trebanos RFC; Morgan James appeared from Penclawdd RFC.
T – Sam Jardine
C – James Davies
P – James Davies
T – Penalty Try
P – Josh Phillips (3)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Sam Jardine
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Chris Banfield
07 min: Aberavon – T – Sam Jardine & C – James Davies (7 – 0)
24 min: Pontypridd – T – Penalty Try (7 – 7)
30 min: Aberavon – PG – James Davies (10 – 7)
40 min: Half Time
43 min: Pontypridd – PG – Josh Phillips (10 – 10)
50 min: Pontypridd – PG – Josh Phillips (10 – 13)
60 min: Pontypridd – PG – Josh Phillips (10 – 16)
69 min: Pontypridd – Yellow Card – Ben Burnell
70 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Rhys Thomas
80 min: Pontypridd – End Yellow Card – Ben Burnell
80+1 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Rhys Thomas
80+2 min: Pontypridd – Yellow Card – Macauley Cook
80+5 min: Full Time