Preview: Aberavon v Merthyr

Aberavon take on Merthyr at the Talbot Athletic Ground this Sunday in the quarter-final stage of the Indigo Group Premiership Cup, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

Merthyr finished the pool stage of the competition in third place in the East division after winning five of their ten games. They lost three of their opening four games as they went down at home to Ebbw Vale and away to both Pontypridd and Newport, but beat RGC 1404 at The Wern. They won four of their final six pool matches, completing the double over Cardiff, winning at Ebbw Vale and home to Pontypridd, whilst losing away to RGC 1404 and at home to Newport.

In the other quarter-final matches, Cardiff beat Carmarthen Quins and Newport beat Bridgend last month, whilst Llandovery will be home to Pontypridd in the other quarter-final match.

In the Indigo Group Premiership, the Ironmen have played three games with them winning two of them. In December they gained a bonus point home win over Ebbw Vale, whilst at the end of last month, they had a bonus-point win at Swansea. In their last outing, last weekend at RGC 1404, the Ironmen went down 19 – 42 after the game was tied at 19 – 19 at half-time.

Looking back to when Aberavon and Merthyr met at the ground five seasons ago, the Wizards came back from being 14 -17 down at half-time to win 24 – 17. The Ironmen got on the scoreboard early in the game when wing Teri Gee scored a try that was converted by Matthew Jarvis. It wasn’t long however before the home side tied the scores when James Garland scored a try that he converted. Halfway through the opening half Joe Tomalin-Reeves touched down for the Wizards second try. Garland added the extras. Jarvis pulled a penalty back for the Ironmen before a try by scrum-half Rhys Downes, converted by Jarvis, made the score 17 – 14 to the visitors at half-time.

At the start of the second half, Aberavon went back in front thanks to a try by Ben Jones. Garland converted. The next score didn’t occur until late in the game when replacement Steffen Williams kicked a penalty to make the final score 24 – 17.

The Aberavon team that day was: Joe Gage; Matthew Jenkins (rep Jon Phillips), Rheon James (rep Cameron Clement), Will Price, Stef Andrews; James Garland (rep Steffen Williams), Jacob Flynn; Rowan Jenkins (rep Mike Burgess), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies), Jon Thomas (rep Rhys Forse), Ian Moore (capt) (rep Sam Williams), Ben Jones, Nathan Brown (rep Ben Davies), Luke Joseph, Joe Tomalin-Reeves.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Aled Evans, aided by Elliot Mayor and Richard Brace.