Aberavon 31-24 Llanelli
Indigo Premiership, Saturday, September 24th 2022
by Paul Williams
Aberavon continued their impressive start to the league campaign with a third bonus-point victory from three outings, but Llanelli, whose record against Aberavon in recent seasons has been far from impressive, were on this occasion tougher opponents than either Bridgend or Swansea had proved to be in the Wizards’ first two league outings.
It must be said that the visitors, to a degree, contributed to their own downfall with moment of dreadful indiscipline that cost them three yellow cards, but in truth, despite having ended the first half just two points ahead, the Wizards always looked the more likely victors, with a stronger forward platform that ultimately secured the win after the backs had got things moving with two spectacular tries.
Ten minutes had passed before the first score, but when it came it was a beauty. As the visitors attempted to attack from deep, a handling error near halfway was pounced on by left-wing Aled Rees, and his pass created just enough space for Stef Andrews, at full-back on this occasion, to go streaking down the touchline before passing inside for the ever-present Joe Gage to cross for a fine try that Rhys Jones converted from way out on the left.
Andrews himself was next on the scoreboard as the Wizards ended a spell of battering away at the visitors’ defence by spinning the ball quickly wide, with prop Rown Jenkins delivering a long pass for the full-back to squeeze over in the corner.
A promising attack from Llanelli was thwarted when Rees raced across field to produce a copybook cover tackle, but the position did give the visitors a rare foothold in Aberavon territory, and after countless attempts by their forward to batter their way over, lock Jac Price finally touched down close to the posts, with fly-half Josh Phillips converting and adding a penalty to make the half-time score 12-10.
Going into the final quarter the Wizards found themselves 26-10 ahead following a typical bullocking try from Luke Davies followed by a rather less typical affair from Ashton Evans, who raced in at the corner holding off defenders like a wing-threequarter. Rhys Jones converted the former, his replacement Aled Thomas duly obliged with the latter.
With Llanelli replacement half-backs narrowing the gap to nine points with scrum-half Luke Davies touching down for his partner Tal Rees to convert, the Wizards’ lead began to look just a little fragile, but with time running out the quick-thinking of Andrew Waite secured the win by taking a quick penalty and racing in, his pace and strength being far too great for the defence to hold.
At 31-17 as the clock ran into overtime, Llanelli wing Ben Raivalitia crashed over from a quick penalty and Rees’ conversion earned the visitors a losing bonus point that most would agree was no more than they deserved.