Preview: Aberavon v Neath
Aberavon is all set for the kick-off of their Indigo Group Premiership campaign this Saturday, hosting Neath at the Talbot Athletic Ground with the game kicking off at 5:00 p.m.
Last season, the Welsh All Blacks finished in second place in the WRU Championship, leading to their promotion to the Premiership alongside Championship champions Pontypool.
During pre-season, Neath played three games at The Gnoll.
Their first encounter saw them facing Builth Wells, resulting in a 52-14 victory for the home side. The Welsh All Blacks notched up five first-half tries courtesy of wing Llewellyn Hawkes, flanker Fletcher Barry, second-row Ioan Jones, flanker Fergus Kneath, and centre Ben Atkins. Outside-half Lewis Evans converted all five, leading to a 35-0 score at halftime. In the second half, Neath continued their scoring spree, with replacement outside-half Kristian Jones, flanker Gethin Tremlett, and wing Josh Congreve contributing tries. Kristian Jones added a conversion, while Builth managed to salvage some pride with two second-half tries of their own.
Their second match pitted them against Richmond Rugby, which ended in a 14-31 defeat for Neath. The English side led 12-0 at halftime with two first-half tries and added two more in the second half. However, Neath staged a comeback with two tries of their own. Flanker Ben Williams was the first to breach the opponent’s defence, followed by replacement wing Josh Congreve. Outside-half Kristian Jones converted both tries. Richmond Rugby had the final say with a converted try, sealing their victory.
In their final pre-season outing against fellow Premiership side Swansea, Neath lost 22-40. The All Whites secured two converted tries early on, but Neath responded with flanker Fergus Kneath scoring two tries, both converted by outside-half Kristian Jones. Wing Josh Congreve added another try, giving the home side a 19-14 halftime lead. In the second half, Neath extended their lead with a penalty by Kristian Jones, but Swansea rallied, scoring four tries, three of which were converted.
Looking at their history, Aberavon and Neath have met 40 times in the Welsh National League. The All Blacks lead with 25 wins to Aberavon’s 14, with one game ending in a draw. At the Talbot Athletic Ground, Neath lead 12-8. However, Aberavon have won the last four encounters at the ground, including a 36-17 victory five seasons ago.
The upcoming game on Saturday will be officiated by Ben Breakspear as the referee, with support from Adam Jones and Neil Perkins in the roles of assistants.