Aberavon 33 – 24 Carmarthen Quins
by Paul Williams
Aberavon secured their fourth bonus-point victory from four games, running in five tries against a Quins side whose spirited performance in defeat did them credit and made one wonder at their hitherto dismal start to the season.
The Wizards starting line-up saw several changes from that which defeated Llanelli a week earlier, with Sam Williams returning at lock for the injured Rhodri Hughes, changes in the front row, which highlighted the club’s strength in depth in that particular department, and a new centre partnership in Brad Roderick and Callum Carson, while the experienced Aled Thomas made his first start of the season at fly-half.
Despite facing a fairly strong wind, the Wizards made most of the early running, while their powerful scrum inevitably made its presence felt as Rowan Jenkins, Luke Davies and Geraint James caused all kinds of problems for the Quins’ front three. It was from a close-range scrum that the Wizards opened the scoring as the on-form Andrew Waite picked up and fed Rhodri Cole, whose acceleration took him past the visitors’ back-row and through an attempted tackle as he hit the line. Aled Thomas converted via the goalpost.
Fly-half Steffan Marshall reduced the arrears with a straightforward penalty, but then came a try right out of the top drawer, with the Quins failing to secure possession from a defensive lineout. Cole was quick to react and sent the ball wide, with Callum Carson eventually putting in a perfectly weighted rolling kick into the in-goal area, with wing Frankie Jones leaving everyone for dead to comfortably win the race and claim the try. Thomas converted with a superb kick from the right-hand touchline.
With half-time looming the Quins struck back when wing Geraint Llewellyn charged down a clearance kick, regathered the fortuitous ricochet and just managed to force his way over in the corner for try converted by Marshall. The Wizards’ response, however, was almost instant. Waite, having already been prominent with his strength and pace, powered his way through midfield evading several attempted tackles before offloading to Cole, who sprinted over in the right-hand corner. Thomas repeated his earlier feat by confounding the wind and sending over the most difficult of conversions to make it 21-10 at the interval.
Within seconds after the restart the home lead was further increased as a weaving run from another in-form player, full-back Jonathan Phillips, followed by quick ruck ball, saw the industrious and consistent Ashton Evans crash over in the corner for his second try in as many games, claiming the bonus-point in doing so. Thomas’ conversion attempt, however, drifted wide, and there then followed a fifteen-minute scoreless spell during which defences were well and truly in the ascendancy, but the stalemate was eventually broken when, after a period of close-range pressure on the visitors’ line, a long pass from Thomas found replacement Gabe Lacey out on the far left. On his competitive debut, the teenager from Porthcawl strolled in comfortably for the Wizards’ fifth try with Thomas adding the extras.
There was, however, time enough for the Quins to gain some reward for their considerable endeavours, breaking out of defence to create tries for left-wing Kalum Evans and replacement scrum-half Aron Hemmings, both converted by Marshall.
Aberavon 33 – 24 Carmarthen Quins
Jonathan Phillips; Frankie Jones, Callum Carson (rep Rhys Jones 61 min), Bradley Roderick, Stef Andrews (rep Gabe Lacey 14 min); Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole (rep Iwan Temblett 64 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 56 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 64 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 56 min), Shay Smallman, Sam Parris-Williams (rep Sam Pailor 64 min), Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt) (rep Lloyd Evans 61 min).
T – Rhodri Cole (2), Frankie Jones, Ashton Evans, Gabe Lacey
C – Aled Thomas (4)
Carmarthen Quins Scorers:
T – Geraint Llewellyn, Kalum Evans, Aron Hemmings
C – Steffan Marshall (3)
P – Steffan Marshall
Man Of The Match:
1 – Andrew Waite
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Jonathan Phillips
05 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Aled Thomas (7 – 0)
09 min: Carmarthen – PG – Steffan Marshall (7 – 3)
13 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones & C – Aled Thomas (14 – 3)
39 min: Carmarthen – T – Geraint Llewellyn & C – Steffan Marshall (14 – 10)
40+1 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Aled Thomas (21 – 10)
40+3 min: Half Time
41 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans (26 – 10)
52 min: Carmarthen – Yellow Card – Lewis Morgan
56 min: Aberavon – T – Gabe Lacey & C – Aled Thomas (33 – 10)
63 min: Carmarthen – T – Kalum Evans & C – Steffan Marshall (33 – 17)
69 min: Carmarthen – Yellow Card – Lawrence Reynolds
80+3 min: Carmarthen – T – Aron Hemmings & C – Steffan Marshall (33 – 24)
80+4 min: Full Time