Preview: Aberavon v Ebbw Vale

This Friday evening, Aberavon (1st – 30pts) welcome Ebbw Vale (5th – 16pts) to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 7:30 pm.

The Steelmen have won three of their six league games this season. They started their campaign with two wins as they won at Newport (25 – 21) and home to RGC 1404 (24 – 8). They then lost their next three matches, losing narrowly at Cardiff (19 – 20), at home to Llandovery (20 – 23) and away to Bridgend (27 – 29). In their last league outing, Ebbw Vale had a bonus point home win over Swansea (22 – 9).

In the Premiership Cup, the Steelmen won their first pool game 34 – 14 away to Carmarthen Quins back in September.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Ebbw Vale have scored 22.8 points on average per game (ranked 8th) and 2.2 tries (ranked 10th). In “defence” they have conceded 18.5 points on average per game (ranked 2nd) and 2.3 tries (ranked 2nd). Aberavon have scored 34.3 points per game (ranked 1st) and 5.3 tries (ranked 1st), and conceded 22.7 points (ranked 6th) and 2.9 tries (ranked 7th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Ebbw Vale have met each other 35 times in the Welsh National League, with the Wizards leading the series 18 – 16 with 1 game drawn. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, the Wizards lead 13 – 4 with 1 game drawn with them winning the last two times the sides have met at the ground (26 – 11 in 2019-20, 33 – 14 in 2021-22).

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground during the 2006-7 season, the Wizards outscored the then-league leaders 5 – 3 on try count to run out 39 – 19 winners. However, there was never a 20-point difference between the two sides, though Aberavon were more than willing to play running rugby and Scarlets under-20 centre Richard Thomas was outstanding with a two-try contribution. Both packs had their moments with Richard Morris searching for a club record-breaking 126th try and Ian Moore and Darryl Thomas supporting to the hilt, yet the Ebbw Vale back-row of John Bowd, Hywel Jenkins and skipper Craig Cleaver never yielded. Darren Ryan, Jamie Davies and Liam Gadd also scored tries for the Wizards while Davies kicked 14 points with the boot. For the Steelmen, tries were scored by Simon Hunt, Rhodri Dicks and Andrew Bevan, whilst David Langdon converted two tries.

The Wizards team that day was: Liam Gadd; Richard Carter, Richard Thomas (rep Paul Bamsey), Darren Ryan, James Pike; Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Mike Harris, Chris Wells, James Jones (rep Lloyd Howell), Paul Morgan (rep Andrew Fisher), Chris Gittins (capt), Ian Moore, Richard Morris, Darryl Thomas (rep Simon Peters).

The referee for Friday’s game is Ian Davies, aided by Jason Bessant and Richard Brace.