Match Report: Swansea 32 – 38 Aberavon
by Paul Williams
Aberavon bounced back from a below-par defeat at home to Newport to pick up a bonus-point victory under the St Helens floodlights, racing to a commanding lead before the home side fought their way back into contention, and eventually securing a deserved win through a converted try seven minutes from the end of an absorbing and entertaining encounter.
Swansea were first off the mark when fly-half Rhys Jones, last season an Aberavon regular, put over a penalty. It was a short-lived lead, however, as the Wizards launched an attack from close range that saw centre Brad Roderick dart over for a try. Fly-half James Davies, himself a Swansea regular last season, put over the conversion.
Within minutes the home side regained the initiative after hooker Owen Thomas was driven over for an unconverted try, but five minutes later Davies landed a penalty to give the Wizards a two-point lead.
The Wizards were visibly gaining in confidence and, with the wind at their backs in the first half, began to dominate territorially, eventually extending their lead when a series of forward drives led to number eight Rhys Thomas picking up and crashing over the line, with Davies’ conversion making the score 8-17 going into the second quarter.
Swansea’s woes grew as, on the half-hour mark, smart interpassing between the Wizards’ forwards and backs created space for the evergreen Stef Andrews, operating on this occasion at full-back, to use his pace to good effect, accelerating down the left-hand touchline before passing inside for Frankie Jones to touch down. Davies again converted and the half ended with a scoreline of 8-24 in the visitors’ favour.
The Wizards were again first to draw blood after the interval, with their scrum having too much power for the home eight to hold. As the set-piece rumbled relentlessly forward towards the Swansea try line the home front-row caved in leaving referee Ben Breakspear with no option but to award a penalty try, ensuring a bonus-point for the Wizards.
Swansea, however, were down but certainly not out. As Aberavon sought to consolidate into the teeth of the strong wind, a loose pass went to ground and was fly-hacked to within a couple of metres of the Wizards’ line, and a couple of phases later home skipper Callum Bowden crashed over close to the goalposts for Jones to convert.
The All Whites’ resurgence continued when further pressure on the Aberavon line yielded a penalty try and a yellow card for Joe Tomalin-Reeves, who was somehow singled out as having deliberately collapsed a driving maul. A second try from hooker Thomas, converted by Jones, then narrowed the Wizards’ lead to just two points, and with less than ten minutes remaining to play Jones landed a penalty to put the home side ahead 32-31, much to the dismay of the visiting contingent.
The Wizards were in no mood to surrender, however, and with Swansea’s indiscipline yielding a series of penalties that were converted into territory by the boot of Davies, the power of the Aberavon pack came once again to the fore, driving relentlessly forwards until Cameron Lewis, having replaced blood-streaked hooker Luke Davies, burst away almost to the posts, with lock Shay Smallman in close attendance to pick up and crash over. Davies’ conversion took the score to 32-38, and try as they might, Swansea couldn’t escape the clutches of the determined Aberavon defence as the clock ran down.
There were big performances right across the field from Aberavon, as those on the field sought to restore the faith of their supporters following the previous weekend’s disappointment. As a unit the pack were nothing short of formidable, while behind the scrum the backs were clinical in taking what chances came their way. The final whistle saw broad smiles on the faces of the coaching team, none wider than that of Head Coach Jason Hyatt who promised they would be working hard to put right what had gone amiss a few days earlier.
Thursday October 19th, 2023
Swansea 32 – 38 Aberavon
Stef Andrews; Jay Baker (rep Callum Carson 65 min), Frankie Jones, Bradley Roderick, Morgan Williams; James Davies, Aron Hemmings (rep Iwan Temblett 62 min); Rowan Jenkins (capt) (rep Jordan Walters 67 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 36-40 min, 50 min), Geraint James (rep Rhys Fawcett 67 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Ben Gregory, Rhys Thomas, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (rep Casey Williams 67 min).
Replacements Not Used:
Sam Jardine, Travis Huntley.
Sam Jardine appeared from Cwmavon RFC.
T – Bradley Roderick, Rhys Thomas, Frankie Jones, Penalty Try, Shay Smallman
C – James Davies (4)
P – James Davies
T – Owen Thomas (2), Callum Bowden, Penalty Try
C – Rhys Jones (2)
P – Rhys Jones (2)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Shay Smallman
2 – James Davies
3 – Morgan Williams
02 min: Swansea – PG – Rhys Jones (3 – 0)
04 min: Aberavon – T – Bradley Roderick & C – James Davies (3 – 7)
08 min: Swansea – T – Owen Thomas (8 – 7)
13 min: Aberavon – PG – James Davies (8 – 10)
16 min: Aberavon – T – Rhys Thomas & C – James Davies (8 – 17)
31 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones & C – James Davies (8 – 24)
40 min: Half Time
49 min: Aberavon – T – Penalty Try (8 – 31)
52 min: Swansea – T – Callum Bowden & C – Rhys Jones (15 – 31)
55 min: Swansea – T – Penalty Try (22 – 31)
55 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
60 min: Swansea – T – Owen Thomas & C – Rhys Jones (29 – 31)
67 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
71 min: Swansea – PG – Rhys Jones (32 – 31)
72 min: Swansea – Yellow Card – Lloyd Evans
73 min: Aberavon – T – Shay Smallman & C – James Davies (32 – 38)
80 min: Full Time