Preview: Aberavon v Pontypridd

This Saturday, Aberavon welcome Pontypridd to the Talbot Athletic Ground in the WRU Premiership Cup, kick-off at 2:30 pm.

For the Cup competition, the twelve clubs in the Indigo Group Premiership have been split into four pools with the pool winners then qualifying for the semi-finals. Each pool consists of three rounds, with each team playing two games in the pool – one at home, one away.

Aberavon are in Pool B along with Pontypridd and Bridgend. Ponty picked up two bonus points in their 26 – 30 loss at home to Bridgend in the first round of the competition, with Aberavon getting a bonus point win in their 49 – 14 win at Bridgend in the second round. That leaves both Aberavon and Bridgend tied on 5 points in Pool B and Pontypridd on 2 points heading into the final round (Aberavon v Pontypridd) this weekend.

The pools – and current state ahead of the final round of games – are as follows:
Pool A – Carmarthen Quins (P2 L2 – 0pts), Ebbw Vale (P1 W1 – 5pts), RGC 1404 (P1 W1 – 5pts) – Final Game: RGC 1404 v Ebbw Vale.
Pool B – Aberavon (P1 W1 – 5pts), Bridgend (P2 W1 L1 – 5pts), Pontypridd (P1 L1 – 2pts) – Final Game: Aberavon v Pontypridd.
Pool C – Llanelli (P1 L1 – 0pts), Newport (P1 W1 – 5pts), Swansea (P2 W1 L1 – 5pts) – Final Game: Newport v Llanelli.
Pool D – Cardiff (P1 W1 – 5pts), Llandovery (P1 L1 – 1pt), Merthyr (P2 W1 L1 – 5pts) – Final Game: Llandovery v Cardiff.

In the league this season, Pontypridd have won two of their eight games. They started their league campaign with two home games, losing to Cardiff (12 – 26) before beating Bridgend (40 – 8). Two losses followed away to Swansea (22 – 45) and home to Aberavon (18 – 33). In the middle of last month, Ponty won at Carmarthen (21 – 15). In their last three outings, they have lost at home to Llanelli (29 – 31), home to Merthyr (18 – 24) and away to Newport (16 – 33).

Looking back when the sides played each other at the ground during the 2005-06 season, the Wizards let a 22 – 3 lead slip in the final 15 minutes as two late Ponty tries set up a nail-biting finish. Aberavon took a 17 – 3 interval lead via a penalty try and a touchdown from hooker Chris Wells. Outside half Jamie Davies converted both tries and added a penalty. For the visitors, outside half Dai Flanagan kicked a penalty. Centre Paul Bamsey scored an unconverted try in the 2nd half to give the Wizards a 19 point lead. However, a brace of tries by wing Matthew Nuthall, converted by Flanagan put the visitors within 5 points of their hosts. Only a late penalty by Davies made the game safe as Aberavon won 25 – 17.

The Aberavon team that day was: Liam Gadd; Richard Carter, Paul Bamsey, Darren Ryan (rep David Hawkins), Daran Griffiths; Jamie Davies, Daniel Hawkins; Mike Harris (rep Lloyd Howell), Chris Wells, Anthony Edwards, Andrew Fisher (rep Paul Morgan), Chris Gittins (capt), Darryl Thomas, Ian Moore, Simon Peters.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Gwyn Morris, aided by Aled Evans and Wayne Davies.