Preview: Aberavon v Merthyr

This Saturday, Aberavon welcome Merthyr to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

Merthyr have won three of their four league games this season. They started their campaign with two home games, with them beating RGC 1404 22 – 15 before losing 12 – 36 to Llandovery. They’ve since had back-to-back bonus point wins, beating Bridgend 34 – 10 away and then, last weekend, winning 35 – 14 at home to Swansea.

In the Premiership Cup, the Ironmen lost their first pool game 15 – 50 away to Cardiff last month.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Merthyr have scored 25.8 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.8 tries (ranked joint 2nd). In “defence” they have conceded 18.8 points on average per game (ranked 3rd) and 2.5 tries (ranked joint 5th). Aberavon have scored 36.2 points per game (ranked 1st) and 5.6 tries (ranked 1st), and conceded 19.4 points (ranked 4th) and 2.4 tries (ranked 4th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Merthyr have met each other 17 times in the Welsh National League (including playoffs), with the Wizards leading the series 12 – 5. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon lead 6 – 2 and have won their last two league games with Merthyr at the ground (16 – 7 in 2018-19; 19 – 13 in 2019-20).

Looking back to when Aberavon and Merthyr met at the ground six 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 Saturday’s game is Jason Bessant, aided by Steffan Edwards and Gavin Roberts.