Preview: Aberavon v Bridgend
Aberavon open up their Indigo Group Premiership campaign this Saturday when they host Bridgend at the Talbot Athletic Ground, kick-off at 2:30 pm.
This season, the Premiership returns to home and away matches for the twelve teams, whilst play-off matches will take place at the end of the season to determine the champions.
Last season, the Ravens finishes in ninth place in the Premiership after winning four of their eleven games, whilst Aberavon finished third after winning seven of their games.
During pre-season, Bridgend played Merthyr away on August 20th and, last Friday evening, Maesteg Quins at home.
They beat the Ironmen 26 – 24 thanks to a last-minute converted try. The Ravens led 14 – 0 after the opening quarter, and 14 – 7 at the break before the home side came back and led 24 – 19 late on before the match-winning converted try by the visitors. Full-back Edd Howley scored a brace of tries, whilst there were also tries by wing Tyler Williams and centre Stuart Floyd Ellis. Outside-half Luke Price converted two whilst replacement Paul Short converted one.
Against Maesteg Quins, the Ravens won 38 – 3. The first half was close with the home side leading 5 – 3 at the interval thanks to a try by centre Joseph Gatt. However, Bridgend ran away with in the second half as Gatt scored his second, wing Tyler Williams also scored a brace of tries, and there were also tries for number eight Jordan Collier and outside-half Paul Short. Short and replacement Jamie Murphy kicked two conversions each.
Head-to-head, Aberavon and Bridgend have met each other 41 times in the Welsh National League, with the Wizards narrowly leading the series 20 – 19 with 2 games drawn. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon lead 12 – 7 with 1 game drawn with the Wizards winning four of the last five games between the sides at the ground.
Looking back at the fixture fifteen seasons ago, a scrappy, forward-dominated opening half saw the Wizards take an 8 – 0 lead thanks to a try from Marc Breeze and a penalty by Jamie Davies. Davies kicked two further penalties in the third quarter as Gareth David got points on the board for the visitors. Leading 14 – 3, the Wizards’ home pack were increasingly dominating their counterparts resulting in a brace of tries for Chris Wells, both converted by Davies, and an unconverted try by James Garland. Final score, Aberavon 33, Bridgend 3.
The Wizards team that day was: James Garland (rep Ricky Thomas); Richard Carter, Paul Bamsey, Liam Gadd, Steve Davies; Jamie Davies, Gavin Hooper (rep Chris Morgans); Neil White (rep Mike Harris), Marc Breeze (rep Chris Wells), Paul Breeze, Ian Moore (capt), Chris Gittins (rep Andrew Fisher), Darryl Thomas, Richard Morris (rep Simon Peters), Chris Davies.
The referee for Saturday’s game is Elgan Williams, aided by Adam Jones and Jon Mason.