Preview: Llandovery v Aberavon

This Friday evening, Aberavon (5th – 51 pts) travel to Church Bank to take on Llandovery (2nd – 59 pts) in a re-arranged Indigo Group Premiership match, kick-off at 7:30 pm.

The Drovers have won thirteen of their fifteen league games this season. They won their opening five games as they saw off Carmarthen Quins, Merthyr (bonus point win), Newport, Ebbw Vale and RGC 1404 (bonus point win). Their first league loss came at the end of October when they narrowly lost at Cardiff but picked up two bonus points in the process. Llandovery then won their next four games as they beat Llanelli (bonus point win), Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins (bonus point win) and Pontypridd. A loss to Merthyr followed in January on a Thursday night before winning their last four games with wins over Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, RGC 1404 and Cardiff (bonus point win).

In the Premiership Cup, the West Wales side lost at Merthyr but beat Cardiff. However, Llandovery missed out on a semi-final spot with the Blue & Blacks topping the Pool.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Llandovery have scored 27.1 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.3 tries (ranked 4th). In “defence” they have conceded 15.9 points on average per game (ranked 1st) and 1.7 tries (ranked 1st). Aberavon have scored 28.0 points per game (ranked 3rd) and 4.0 tries (ranked 3rd), and conceded 23.2 points (ranked 7th) and 2.9 tries (ranked 7th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Llandovery have met each other 49 times in the Welsh National League (including playoffs), with the Wizards leading the series 30 – 17 with 2 games drawn. At Church Bank, the Wizards narrowly lead 12 – 11 with 1 game drawn with the Drovers winning the last three times the sides have met at the ground.

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in January 2000 there were club debuts for New Zealander Scott Leighton and Ian Moore. The Wizards were 17 – 0 up after 23 minutes thanks to tries by centre Ian Jones and Gareth King, with outside half Leighton converting both and kicking a penalty. The Drovers hit back on the half-hour mark when flanker Gareth Thomas went over for a try. In injury time at the end of the first half wing, Daran Griffiths scored the Wizards third try to make the score 22 – 5 to Aberavon at the interval.

Llandovery hit back again at the start of the second half when wing Tracy Lewis scored a try that was converted by outside half Peter Lloyd. However, Aberavon came back with a try by captain Mark Evans and then by flanker Chris Kinsey. Leighton added a conversion to make the score 34 – 12. Late in the game, number eight Richard Morris scored the Wizards sixth try with replacement James Taylor adding the extras to make the final score 41 – 12 to Aberavon.

The Wizards team that day was: Gareth King; Daran Griffiths, Ian Jones, Barry Maddocks, Paul Bamsey; Scott Leighton, Aled Thomas; Robert Price, Jason Hyatt, Colin Noon, Mark Evans (capt), Ian Strang, Chris Kinsey, Richard Morris, Howard Merrett. Replacements: James Taylor, Ian Moore, Matthew McCarthy, Lloyd Howell, Mickey Dixon, Mark Thomas.

The referee for Friday’s game is Craig Evans, aided by Steffan Edwards and Neil Jones.