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.