Preview: Ebbw Vale v Aberavon

On Thursday evening, Aberavon (4th – 55 pts) travel to Eugene Cross Park to take on Ebbw Vale (5th – 53 pts) in the Indigo Group Premiership, kick-off at 7:30 pm.

The Steelmen have won eleven of their seventeen league games this season. They won their first two games of the season seeing off both Newport and RGC 1404 before losing their next three, as they went down to Cardiff, Llandovery and Bridgend but picked up a losing bonus point in each of those games. The Gwent side then went on a six-game winning streak as they beat Swansea (bonus point win), Aberavon, Carmarthen Quins (bonus point win), Pontypridd, Newport and Llanelli (bonus point win). A pair of losses followed in January as they went down to RGC 1404 and Llandovery with them picking up a losing bonus point against the Drovers. In February they won both their games as they had a bonus point win over Llanelli and also saw off Bridgend. This was followed by a bonus point win at Swansea at the start of this month. In their last outing, at home to Merthyr, they went down 9 – 24.

In the Premiership Cup, the Gwent side lost at RGC 1404 but beat Carmarthen Quins at home. However, Ebbw Vale missed out on a semi-final spot with RGC 1404 topping the Pool.

Looking at the Premiership, in “attack”, Ebbw Vale have scored 24.4 points on average per game (ranked 7th) and 2.9 tries (ranked 8th). In “defence” they have conceded 19.1 points on average per game (ranked joint 2nd) and 2.2 tries (ranked 4th). Aberavon have scored 27.8 points per game (ranked 3rd) and 3.9 tries (ranked 2nd), and conceded 22.8 points (ranked 7th) and 2.8 tries (ranked 7th).

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Ebbw Vale have met each other 36 times in the Welsh National League, with the Wizards narrowly leading the series 18 – 17 with 1 game drawn. At Eugene Cross Park, the home side leads 12 – 5 and won the last time the sides met at the ground (19 – 17 in 2018-19).

Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in 2004-05, the Wizards hung on to win 22 – 21 after taking a fourteen-point lead towards the end of the first half. Playing into the wind, the home side opened the scoring with a try by Kuli Faletau – father of Wales centurion Taulupe Faletau. Aberavon responded with three tries of their own as Barry Maddocks and Ricky Price both touched down before referee David Bodilly awarded the Wizards a penalty try. Davies converted two of the tries to give the visitors a 19 – 5 lead. However, in injury time, Byron Hayward, kicked a penalty to make the score 19 – 8 at the interval. Hayward kicked a further two penalties in the second half with Davies replying with one of his own to make the score 22 – 14 as the game entered the final quarter. A Scott Headington try in the 75th minute, converted by Hayward, set up a tense ending to the game, especially as Bodilly added seven minutes of injury time.

The Wizards team that day was: Ricky Price; Daran Griffiths, Barry Maddocks, Darren Ryan, Paul Bamsey; Jamie Davies (rep Liam Gadd), Adrian Williams; Mike Harris (rep Lloyd Howell), Chris Wells, Paul Breeze, Dafydd Owen (capt), Ian Moore, Jonathan Purnell, Richard Morris, Steve Phillips.

The referee for Thursday’s game, which will be shown live on S4C Clic (S4C Clic player, S4C Facebook Live page and S4C YouTube page), is Adam Jones, aided by Elgan Williams, Mark Butcher and Rob Mota, with TMO Wayne Davies.