Preview: Bridgend v Aberavon

On Good Friday, Aberavon (6th – 27 points) travel to the Brewery Field to take on Bridgend (12th – 6 points) in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

In the Premiership this season, the Ravens have won one from eight games. Their win came over RGC 1404 last month when Bridgend won 20 – 8 at home. They have picked up losing bonus points in their games at Carmarthen Quins (17 – 22) and home to Swansea (23 – 27). In the game against the All Whites – the Ravens last match on April 2nd – the home side was winning but an interception in the last play of the game gifted Swansea victory.

In the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, Bridgend finished the pool stage of the competition in fourth place of the West division after winning four of their ten games. They did the double over Llanelli and won at Llandovery and Swansea. The Ravens then lost at Newport in the quarter-finals.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Bridgend have scored 16.0 points on average per game (ranked 11th) and 1.8 tries (ranked 12th). In “defence” they have conceded 28.4 points on average per game (ranked 11th) and 4.3 tries (ranked 11th). Aberavon have scored 29.4 points per game (ranked 4th) and 4.1 tries (ranked 3rd), and conceded 20.3 points (ranked 2nd) and 2.5 tries (ranked 3rd).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Bridgend have met each other 40 times in the Welsh National League, with the Wizards leading the series 20 – 18 with 2 games drawn. At the Brewery Field, Bridgend lead 11 – 8 with 1 game drawn with Aberavon winning the last time the sides met in the league at the ground (27 – 26 in 2019-20).

Looking back fifteen years ago to the 2006-07 season, the Wizards won the fixture 24 – 16 taking the spoils in a scrappy encounter in which tries were scored by Robbie Morgan and James Pike. Jamie Davies landed a penalty goal and a conversion, while replacement Gareth Knox landed three penalties to put the game beyond doubt after the home side had threatened to claw their way back into contention. The Ravens points came from a Rhys Webb try, with Gareth David kicking three penalties and a conversion.

The Wizards team that day was: Liam Gadd; Richard Carter, Paul Bamsey, Darren Ryan, James Pike; Jamie Davies (rep Gareth Knox), Chris Morgans (rep Dan Hawkins); Mike Harris, Marc Breeze (rep Christian Richards), Anthony Edwards (rep Ceri Jones), Andrew Fisher, Chris Gittins (capt), Darryl Thomas, Robbie Morgan, James Davies (rep Simon Peters).

The referee for Friday’s game is Ben Breakspear, aided by John Darcy and Mark Butcher.

Cup Final Flags

We have ordered Aberavon/ Wizards branded flags for the Indigo Premiership Cup Final against Newport on Sunday 24 April, 5:35 kick off.

If you would like to purchase a flag you can do so in the clubhouse every evening after 6pm.

The flags come in three sizes (whilst stock lasts):

12″ x 8″ = £5

18″ x 12″ = £10

3^” x 24″ = £40


Tickets for the cup final are available from Tuesday 12 April from the clubhouse – we will continue to sell tickets in the clubhouse every evening.

Ticket prices and details as follows:

Adults = £10

Under 16s = £5

Tickets can be printed off and you will be supplied with an e-ticket.

Please visit the clubhouse to purchase and to ask for anymore information.

Match Report: Aberavon 28 – 29 Llandovery

by Howard Evans

A try by replacement back-rower Jordan Evans, a few minutes from full-time gained the ‘Drovers’ a narrow victory.

As usual with these two clubs, there was little between them at the finish, but Llandovery, who led 5-4 on the try-count just about deserved it.

Scrum-half Lee Rees proved to be the outstanding player and a strangely quiet home side found him too hard to hold.

Credit also to left-wing Aaron Warren, who scored three good tries.

The visitors led 19-0 and kept that lead until the 69th minute when Aberavon nosed in front.

The ‘Wizards’ were particularly poor in the first quarter and went down to 14 men when Lee Purnell was yellow-carded with two tries being conceded while he was off.

It was a final home match for centre Will Price, the club vice-captain, but who led on the day. Will has been a fine servant and was replaced in the final quarter, coming off to the cheers of the supporters.

Llandovery were quick off the mark with Warren scoring a try, followed by centre Rhodri Jones and then Warren again. Former ‘Wizard’ James Garland converted the last two.

Aberavon gradually fought back and Lloyd Evans scored a try that should have been a penalty try and a yellow card. However, Dan Edwards converted.

After seven extra minutes No 8 Andrew Waite, who played splendidly, took a tap penalty and scored for Edwards to convert.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first with another try by Warren to make it 14-24.

Aberavon rang the changes and replacement hooker Luke Davies went over with Edwards again converting.

Further home pressure was rewarded by another try from Waite and Edwards again kicked a fine goal for a lead at 28-24.

However, Llandovery were not finished and back-row replacement Jordan Evans scored wide out to give his side a one-point win.

Score:
Aberavon 28 – 29 Llandovery

Aberavon Team:
Joe Gage; Frankie Jones, Chay Smith (rep Joe Thomas 68 min), Will Price (capt) (rep Cori Lewis-Jenkins 61 min), Stef Andrews; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 52 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 48 min), Cameron Lewis (rep Luke Davies 48 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 48 min), Sam Pailor (rep Sam Williams 52 min), Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (rep Ben Williams 64 min), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Notes:
Dan Edwards & Cori Lewis-Jenkins appeared from the Ospreys; Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC; Ben Williams appeared from Gilfach Goch RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Andrew Waite (2), Lloyd Evans, Luke Davies
C – Dan Edwards (4)

Llandovery Scorers:
T – Aaron Warren (3), Rhodri Jones, Jordan Evans
C – James Garland (2)

Referee:
Gareth Newman

Man Of The Match:
1 – Andrew Waite
2 – Dan Edwards
3 – Will Price

Time Line:
17 min: Llandovery – T – Aaron Warren (0 – 5)
22 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Lee Purnell
25 min: Llandovery – T – Rhodri Jones & C – James Garland (0 – 12)
28 min: Llandovery – T – Aaron Warren & C – James Garland (0 – 19)
31 min: Aberavon – T – Lloyd Evans & C – Dan Edwards (7 – 19)
32 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Lee Purnell
40+7 min: Aberavon – T – Andrew Waite & C – Dan Edwards (14 – 19)
40+8 min: Half Time
44 min: Llandovery – T – Aaron Warren (14 – 24)
53 min: Aberavon – T – Luke Davies & C – Dan Edwards (21 – 24)
69 min: Aberavon – T – Andrew Waite & C – Dan Edwards (28 – 14)
77 min: Llandovery – T – Jordan Evans (28 – 29)
80+5 min: Full Time

Paul Williams (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Thank you and good… erm… afternoon

Despite there still being important rugby to be played, it befalls me, at what feels like an unbelievably early stage of this somewhat strange and abbreviated season, to acknowledge all the help, support and encouragement I’ve received in producing these pages on a regular basis throughout the past seven or so months.

So first, to my good friend Howard Evans, the walking encyclopaedia of Welsh club rugby, whose knowledgeable contributions save me from having to do an unbelievable amount of research if he didn’t have the required information on whoever the visitors may be stored somewhere inside his head, ready to dash off in an email at a few minutes’ notice.

Then there’s the quiet man of Aberavon RFC, webmaster Gareth Gange, whose diligent attention to detail means I can quickly and easily confirm who scored the last try in whatever fixture I’m referring to, along with a host of other significant details that I’d otherwise get hopelessly wrong.

There are then those who make numerous other contributions, such as Club Chairman Andrew John with his leading article and Commercial Manager Chris Davies with innumerable bits and bobs to keep the reader amused.

A special shout out goes to designer Stuart Evans (Sevans Design) whose talent for turning an assortment of diverse emails into the professional-looking publication you are now holding is something for which we’ve been incredibly grateful for well over twenty years now.

And I must make a special mention of my self-confessed number one literary followers Ceri and Rob, who tell me they look forward to reading my words over breakfast on the morning after each match.

Overarching all of the above, words cannot do justice to my appreciation of the club as a whole, management, coaches, players, staff, volunteers and loyal supporters all of whom contribute to making Aberavon RFC something of which we can all take pride in being a part. Thank you all

This afternoon brings down the curtain on the career of one of our longest-serving players, Will Price, who has been a fine and popular servant to the club since moving here from Tonmawr all those years ago, overcoming serious injury problems along the way. I could hear Howard Evans trying to persuade Will to think carefully about the decision to retire (code for trying to talk him out of it, perhaps?) but there comes a time for life after after rugby. Good luck Will, and thanks.

Congratulations go to staunch Wizards supporter Jonathan (Baayo) James and his fiancée Jade Brain, the very proud parents of their baby daughter Ariella-Rai born on February 3rd and weighing in at 7lb 11.5oz. Jonathan and Jade, from Fairway are both are over the moon and so are proud grandparents Hugh and Carolyn James. Jonathan can’t wait to dress her in a Wizards jersey and parade her around the ground.

Howard Evans (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Here we go again as for the fifth time this season the ‘Wizards’ and the ‘Drovers’ are meeting. We did not start playing against Llandovery until the 1993-94 season and yet already this season we have beaten them in an August friendly and in last month’s cup semi-final.

However, Llandovery have beaten us twice in the cup, both home and away. So, both clubs can ask – how do you lose and win in the cup? Rugby in Wales is indeed not simple is it? The knock-out cup means you can lose and win and in the league there are only 11 games with some clubs playing six at home and five away and others just the opposite.

There are a few players over the years who have represented both clubs, but primarily I think of fly halves James Garland and Cerith Rees. James will be here today and he is very, very welcome.

Interestingly, Joe Thomas, who was in Texas when we met in August, has since scored tries in all the three cup meetings.

One thing we do know is that though the coaches – Jason Hyatt and Euros Evans – were hookers, nevertheless, there will some good open rugby played today.

Even the referee stays the same as the cup semi-final with Rhys Jones in the middle, while Wayne Davies is on the line. I remember a Mid District semi-final many years ago when Wayne was referee. Despite two fierce sides, Wayne was outstanding that day.

Good luck to all players and officials and particularly to our splendid Will Price, who will be here as an Aberavon player for the final time.

Action Replay (Llandovery Programme Notes)

Aberavon 33-14 Ebbw Vale
Indigo Group Premiership, 2nd April 2022

by Paul Williams

“A game of two halves” is probably the most-used cliché in the cliché-ridden world of sport, but the description fitted this match perfectly. A dry, sunny Saturday afternoon on a perfect playing surface and a willingness from both sides to open up from all parts of the field brought plenty of thrills, as well as a few spills, to the opening half, but whether it was the late-afternoon plummeting temperature, a touch of fatigue after all the earlier running, or perhaps a combination of those and other factors, but the jamboree for some reason gave way to a somewhat error-strewn final half-hour that became dominated by the referee’s whistle.

It was evident from the word go that while Aberavon’s much-changed line-up were all raring to go in the quest for a place in the forthcoming Premiership Cup Final, the visitors hadn’t just arrived to make up the numbers, and things quickly settled into the Wizards’ pacy backs seeking to find a way through or around a dogged Ebbw defence, while at the same time having to contain the visitors’ more direct but no less effective approach. Within this environment, two players – wing Cori Lewis-Jenkins and flanker Ben Williams, made their respective league debuts in Aberavon colours while the popular Chris Banfield captained the team for the first time. All three emerged with considerable credit.

It was the Wizards who made the early running, however, opening the scoring when the in-form Joe Gage burst up the middle and offloaded to Andrew Waite. The speedy number eight went charging away and when play was halted in the shadow of the visitors’ posts, quick ball was moved left and flanker Ashton Evans crashed over for an unconverted try.

That was followed by a brace of tries from Chay Smith, the first after a clever reverse pass from Iwan Temblett had the Ebbw defence wondering where the ball was as Smith sprinted in at the posts, and then Aled Thomas joisted a delicate chip into the in-goal area for the alert centre to acrobatically ground the ball inches before it rolled dead.

With Thomas having added both conversions, the Wizards were suddenly 19-nil up, and looking good value for their lead. The visitors, however, came storming back, laying siege to the Aberavon goal-line until lock Ethan Doyle was able to crash over at the posts for fly-half Evan Lloyd to add the conversion.

It was close to half time when the next score came. When it did, it was courtesy of the Aberavon scrum, which has caused more than a few problems for opposing packs this season. After a speculative kick ahead had earned them an attacking scrum-five, on came the pressure and as the Ebbw front row caved in referee Ben Whitehouse had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, earning the Wizards a bonus point.

A fine try from Gage late in the third quarter was goaled by Thomas to make the score 33-7, but to their credit the visitors kept on battling away as play became increasingly attritional, with Mr Whitehouse’s whistle coming increasingly to the fore. Eventually number eight Alex Howes forced his way over from close range following a period of sustained pressure on the home line, with Lloyd again converting. It was to be the final score of the day as the match reached its conclusion with both teams battling away without success to add to their tally.

Will Price to Retire

Will Price has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of this season.

Will played his first game for Aberavon on the 29th April 2009 against Llanelli at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

He has played 229 times for Aberavon (as of 8/4/22) and has scored 35 tries.

Wizards Head Coach Jason Hyatt spoke very highly of Price.

“I have had the privilege of coaching Will for many years and had the pleasure of watching him develop into an outstanding Wizard, on and off the field.

Will is a player who I often ask for advice, he is honest and knows how to bring the best out of everyone around him, a very special talent”.

During nearly 13-years of service at Aberavon, he has represented Wales Sevens on the International Sevens Series, a fine achievement, however, what is very fitting for Will Price is during his first full season at Aberavon he reached the cup final against Pontypridd, now he is to finish his Aberavon career in yet another cup final against Newport on April 24th.

“He’s the type of player you’d rather play with than against”

Ashley Beck

Ex-Wizard and former Captain Ian Moore is full of admiration for Price.

“For me, Will should go down as one of the greats who has put on the Aberavon jersey.

What a class player! So physical and skilful, someone who I would always want on my side, underrated by many, but those that were lucky enough to play alongside him knew how talented he was.

It was an absolute honour to play with you mate and all the best in your retirement”.

Former team-mate and friend, Welsh International Ashley Beck added.

“William is a great friend of mine and it was awesome to play with him down at the Wizards for some time.

He’s the type of player you’d rather play with than against. I had some great memories on and off the field with will him and hope he gets the send-off he deserves because he’s put so much into the Wizards jersey for so many years. 

Congratulations on an awesome career mate! Glad I got to share the field with you”.

“Will should go down as one of the greats who have put on the Aberavon jersey.”

Ian Moore

Will is of course an exceptional talent when it comes to rugby, a player who has the ability to carry across the gain line, to tackle his opponents ferociously and to distribute well and offload in the tackle as good as any – yet, the person behind the rugby ability is what his peers admire most.

“For all young players searching for answers on how to achieve their ambitions, he is an ideal role model. He keeps himself in perfect physical condition, his work rate is first class and most importantly, he’s a real nice guy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Will’s family, especially Becky, Mia & Sofia for their support. Having the support of family & loved ones is so important for all young players to develop and Will has obviously been very fortunate to have such strong support”, added Hyatt.

Price will play his last home game at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Saturday 9 April against Llandovery.


Statement from Will Price.

It has been a privilege to play for Aberavon and I’m very proud to have represented the club for over 12 years and also captain the side too. 

Aberavon is a great club filled with amazing people and I just want to say thank you to each and everyone who have allowed me to be a part of it.

As a club we’ve had many highs and lows but all are great memories which I will always be thankful for, as well as all the friendships I’ve made on the way.

It is a hard decision to make and one I did not rush into making, but now I can look forward to spending more time with my Wife and two girls. 

Thank you once again to all. I will most definitely be down supporting the club and the boys next season. 

Will 

Team v Llandovery

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

Aberavon Starting XV:
Joe Gage; Frankie Jones, Chay Smith, Will Price, Stef Andrews; Dan Edwards, Iwan Temblett; Rowan Jenkins, Cameron Lewis, Chris Davies, Sam Pailor, Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.

Replacements:
Rhodri Cole, Cori Lewis-Jenkins, Joe Thomas, Ben Williams, Luke Davies, Rhys Fawcett, Sam Williams, Geraint James.

Preview: Aberavon v Llandovery

Aberavon play their last home game of the season this Saturday when they welcome Llandovery to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

In the Premiership this season, the Drovers have won three from seven games. They have beaten RGC 1404 (bonus point win), Merthyr (bonus point win) and Swansea, but have lost to Newport, Pontypridd, Ebbw Vale and Cardiff.

In the Premiership Cup, the Drovers finished the pool stage of the competition in top spot of the West division after winning nine of their ten games. They then beat Pontypridd at home in the quarter-final stage before narrowly losing to Aberavon in the semi-final held at Merthyr a couple of weeks ago.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Llandovery have scored 24.4 points on average per game (ranked 7th) and 3.7 tries (ranked 5th). In “defence” they have conceded 26.9 points on average per game (ranked 10th) and 3.6 tries (ranked 9th). Aberavon have scored 29.6 points per game (ranked 4th) and 4.1 tries (ranked 3rd), and conceded 19.0 points (ranked 2nd) and 2.1 tries (ranked 1st).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Llandovery have met each other 48 times in the Welsh National League (including playoffs), with the Wizards leading the series 30 – 16 with 2 games drawn. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, the Wizards lead 18 – 5 with 1 game drawn with them winning the last time the sides met at the ground (31 – 26 in 2018-19).

Looking back twenty seasons ago the Wizards won the Division One fixture against Llandovery 22 – 13. Wizards outside-half Jamie Davies and Drovers full-back Stuart Harries traded penalties in the first half to make the score 6 – 6 at the interval. Early in the second half centre Tracey Lewis intercepted for the visitors inside their own 22 to set up a try for wing Ioan Davies. Harries added the extras to put Llandovery 13 – 6 up. This seemed to be the impetus that the home side needed as their 15 game unbeaten run in Division One came under threat. Wizards flanker Andrew Thomas set up an unconverted try for Davies in the corner, before Davies kicked his third penalty of the afternoon to help the Wizards into a narrow 14 – 13 lead with half-hour to go. As the match entered the final quarter scrum-half Daniel Hawkins scored from a scrum five while Davies kicked another penalty in the 70th minute as the Wizards consolidated their lead at the top of the table.

The Wizards team that day was: Matthew Back; Sam Greenaway, Barry Maddocks, Scott Leighton, Daran Griffiths; Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Mike Harris, Jason Hyatt, Greg Dix (rep Andrew Clatworthy), Mervyn Meredith, Steve Rees (rep Chris Gittins), Natano Tiatia (rep Marvin Thomas), Richard Morris, Andrew Thomas.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Gareth Newman, aided by Wayne Davies and Owen Wrangham.

Match Report: Aberavon 33 – 14 Ebbw Vale

by Howard Evans

Aberavon had gained the try-bonus by half-time and it was just as well because for most of the second half the whistle dominated.

There was little rugby played in the second spell with both sides having players yellow-carded, but it was the fault of neither side as they tried their level best to play rugby.

However many spectators left feeling they did not get their moneys-worth and replacements of both sides waited and waited to get on.

Aberavon had made 11 changes, including two league debutants and the side played as if they certainly wanted a place in the forthcoming cup final.

The ‘Wizards’ tried to open play up at every opportunity and it is no criticism of the ‘Steelmen’ that they kept it tight and tackled their hearts out.

Though Aberavon had the slight edge in the scrum, where Rhys Fawcett excelled, they found the Ebbw pack as strong as any they have played against.

Both sides put in splendid tackling, but Aled Thomas found willing runners in centres Joe Gage and Chay Smith who made some fine bursts.

The Vale had several young players in their midst while Aberavon had the teenage Ben Williams at ‘7’ and 18-yr-old Ceri Lewis-Jenkins on a wing.

All those young men played well and how young Vale hooker Harry Bee lasted through the first half, hobbling badly, was astonishing.

Gage produced the form that won him Wales Youth caps thanks to the half-back combination of Thomas and Iwan Temblett.

In the pack, lock Rhodri Hughes carried on with a cut on his head that will probably need stitches as both sides went strong in the contact area.

It took Aberavon just five minutes to score through flanker Ashton Evans and soon after Temblett gave a splendid backflip to Smith, who raced over for Aled Thomas to convert.

Thomas then cleverly grubber-kicked for the flying Smith to somersault over as he touched down and Aled again converted.

Ebbw ground it out down to the home line and lock Ethan Doyle went over for fly-half Evan Lloyd to convert.

Just before the half-time whistle, the home scrum shunted and a penalty try was awarded for a 26-7 scoreline.

Early in the second spell, Aberavon’s fifth try came from the exciting running of Gage and Thomas goaled from the touch-line.

Thereafter, what rugby was allowed to be played was mostly on the Aberavon line before No 8 Alex Howes scored and Lloyd converted with a fine kick.

By then, both sides had a player yellow-carded.

Ebbw coaches Jason Strange and Geraint Lewis can both take a pat on the back for the way their side worked hard throughout, never taking a back step.

For Aberavon, it was another five-pointer well done, but the spectators were robbed of seeing flowing rugby in the second half.

Score:
Aberavon 33 – 14 Ebbw Vale

Aberavon Team:
Chris Banfield (capt) (rep Stef Andrews 68 min); Cori Lewis-Jenkins, Chay Smith, Joe Gage, Frankie Jones; Aled Thomas (rep Will Price 54 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 68 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 68 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 68 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 68 min), Sam Pailor (rep Shay Smallman 68 min), Rhodri Hughes (off injured 80+1 min), Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Ben Williams (rep Lloyd Evans 54 min).

Notes:
Cori Lewis-Jenkins appeared from the Ospreys; Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC; Ben Williams appeared from Gilfach Goch RFC. Cori Lewis-Jenkins made his debut for the club. Ben Williams league debut for the club.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Chay Smith (2), Ashton Evans, Penalty Try, Joe Gage
C – Aled Thomas (3)

Ebbw Vale Scorers:
T – Ethan Doyle, Alex Howe
C – Evan Lloyd (2)

Referee:
Ben Whitehouse

Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Gage
2 – Ashton Evans
3 – Chay Smith

Time Line:
05 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans (5 – 0)
14 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith & C – Aled Thomas (12 – 0)
23 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith & C – Aled Thomas (19 – 0)
27 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Ethan Doyle & C – Evan Lloyd (19 – 7)
39 min: Aberavon – T – Penalty Try (26 – 7)
39 min: Ebbw Vale – Yellow Card – A.N.Other
40+3 min: Half Time
53 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Gage & C – Aled Thomas (33 – 7)
69 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Lloyd Evans
71 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Alex Howe & C – Evan Lloyd (33 – 14)
80+6 min: Full Time