Preview: Aberavon v Cardiff

This Thursday evening, Aberavon (3rd – 31pts) welcome Cardiff (1st – 37pts) to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 7:30 pm.

The Blue & Blacks have won all eight of their league games this season and are the only unbeaten side left in the league. They’ve seen off Pontypridd, Newport (bonus-point win), Ebbw Vale, RGC 1404, Llanelli (bonus-point win), Llandovery (bonus-point win), Bridgend (bonus-point win) and Swansea (bonus-point win).

In the Premiership Cup, Cardiff beat Merthyr in the first round but lost to Llandovery in the last round but still booked themselves into the semi-finals of the competition.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Cardiff have scored 34.9 points on average per game (ranked 1st) and 4.9 tries (ranked 1st). In “defence” they have conceded 18.1 points on average per game (ranked 3rd) and 2.1 tries (ranked 2nd). Aberavon have scored 31.4 points per game (ranked 2nd) and 4.7 tries (ranked 2nd), and conceded 24.1 points (ranked 7th) and 3.0 tries (ranked 7th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Cardiff have met each other 39 times in the Welsh National League, with the Blue & Blacks leading the series 21 – 17 with 1 game drawn. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, the Wizards lead 12 – 7 with them winning the last time the sides met at the ground (20 – 18 in 2019-20).

Looking back to the 2008-9 season, the sides met at the Talbot Athletic Ground in the last game of the season. Cardiff came to the ground as the newly crowned Principality Premiership Champions, whereas the Wizards would finish in third place. In the game, a 19-year-old flanker by the name of Sam Pailor made his debut for Aberavon when he came on as a replacement, on permit from Pontypool RFC, in the last quarter.

Cardiff made an early start going over for the opening try just two minutes into the game. Wing Shaun James the try scorer with outside-half Gareth Davies converting. However, the Wizards hit back shortly after with a try by Richard Thomas. Matthew Jarvis added the extras to tie the score, and then kicked a penalty to put the home side ahead. Further Aberavon tries by Chris Lewis and David Pritchard, and another conversion and penalty by Jarvis made the score 25 – 7 to Aberavon at the interval.

The second half started with another Jarvis penalty before Gareth Davies scored a try he converted for the visitors. A fourth penalty by Jarvis and a second try by Richard Thomas, once more converted by Jarvis gave the Wizards a 38 – 14 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining. In the last quarter, the visitors hit back as they scored four tries with centre Gareth Chapman scoring twice whilst wing Ryan Howells and full-back Craig Morgan also scored. Three of the tries were converted. For Aberavon, Jarvis kicked his fifth penalty as the Wizards narrowly held on for a 41 – 40 win.

The Wizards team that day was: Marc Bennett; Richard Carter, Richard Thomas, Jamie Davies (rep Ashley Beck), Chris Lewis; Matthew Jarvis, David Pritchard (rep Brendan Roach); Lloyd Howell (rep Neil White), Marc Breeze (rep Chris Wells), Anthony Edwards (rep Ian Poley), Ian Moore (capt), Chris Gittins (rep Nathan White), Darryl Thomas, Richard Morris, Chris Davies (rep Sam Pailor).

The referee for Thursday’s game, which will be shown live on S4C Clic (S4C Clic player, S4C Facebook Live page and S4C YouTube page), is Ben Whitehouse, aided by Carwyn Williams, Joseff Rees and Mark Jones, with TMO Jon Mason.