Action Replay (Llanelli Programme Notes)

Aberavon 23-5 Carmarthen Quins
Indigo Group Premiership, Saturday, 12th March 2022
by Paul Williams

The Wizards completed an unique treble for the season over Carmarthen Quins, having produced their best away performance of the season in the picturesque surroundings of Carmarthen Park on a fine autumnal October afternoon, secured a much narrower win here at Aberavon on a gloomy November Friday evening, and then making far better use of the blustery conditions here at the Talbot Athletic Ground last weekend.

The Quins’ had selected an experienced and bulky pack to counter the Wizards’ scrummaging strength that had previously caused them so many problems, but while this made for a more solid set-piece, they found the constant ball carrying of the Aberavon forwards difficult to contain, with Lee Purnell, Ashton Evans, Rhys Fawcett and Chris Davies leading the way.

A strong gusting wind blowing diagonally across the field made things difficult for both teams, but with Rhodri Cole constantly at the heels of his pack to whip away the ball, his half-back partner Aled Thomas, a former Carmarthen player, provided a master-class in using the conditions, apparently operating in an oasis of calm control amid the committed physical encounter taking place around and about him. Meanwhile, the Quins’ efforts to break out of their own territory were regularly thwarted by wing Chris Banfield and full-back Jon Phillips, with the former’s usual tactic of running the ball back into traffic at top speed and the latter’s inch-perfect kicking game keeping the home side on top territorially.

The Wizards opened the scoring when Banfield’s fellow wing Frankie Jones showed great anticipation to intercept a pass on half-way and go racing clear to the posts for Thomas to convert before adding two penalties to make it 13-nil at half-time.

After the interval Jones was again instrumental in gaining a foothold deep in Quins territory that was to yield a try for hooker Ieuan Davies. Jones’ acceleration took him clear of a couple of attempted tackles, and he was then obstructed after kicking ahead and giving chase, earning a penalty five metres from the visitors’ try line. A period of sustained pressure saw the home pack secure lineout possession and drive forward before Davies broke away and darted over in the corner.

Even with the wind in their favour, the visitors were unable to mount any kind of threat, with the home pack still having the ascendency in loose play, and even the usual second-half changes of personnel that saw both sides empty their benches, failed to change things, with the Wizards’ strength-in-depth in key positions keeping them on top. There was a last-minute consolation try scored by replacement wing Morgan Griffiths, but by then the Wizards were leading by 23-nil after a cross-kick to the left-hand corner found its way into the hands of skipper Joe Tomalin-Reeves, who sprinted over in the corner to put the result well and truly beyond doubt.