Aberavon 17 – 24 Ebbw Vale
by Paul Williams
Aberavon were left licking their wounds both figuratively and literally after this first home defeat of the season, in which a series of early injuries were influential in disrupting the Wizards’ game. There was, however, one positive in the league debut of scrum-half Liam Seaward, who produced a fine fifty-minute display that included a brace of tries.
It was the sight of players heading for the medical room that will abide in the memories of most Aberavon supporters. Dan Baker limped off after eight minutes with an ankle injury, and he was followed two minutes later by Aled Rees nursing a shoulder injury, and while the Wizards were able to replace like with like on those two occasions with Andrew Waite and Chris Banfield taking the field, things got more difficult once Ashton Evans departed with a hand injury and Rhodri Hughes hobbled off. This resulted in Sam Williams initially replacing Evans at flanker before moving to lock to replace Hughes, with hooker Ieuan Davies having to join the front row with Luke Davies moving into unfamiliar territory at flanker.
While all this had been going on, however, the Wizards had conjured two magical scores. The first came after sixteen minutes and involved some dazzling interpassing involving Rowan Jenkins, Rhodri Hughes and Stef Andrews, whose inside pass sent Seaward on a flight path to a corner try.
Almost twenty minutes later an Ebbw Vale lineout on the Aberavon ‘22’ went awry and Luke Davies was quick to snap up the loose ball and burst away. He linked with Sam Williams who showed an astonishing turn of speed along the touchline before offloading when tackled to Seaward, who again went racing over with Rhys Jones this time adding the conversion.
The visitors, however, were able to respond when flanker Lewis Young went over after expoiting a gap in the disrupted home defence, with fly-half Evan Lloyd converting, and shortly afterwards things got heated when what began as an innocuous bout of pushing and shoving escalated when an Ebbw Vale player ran in and knocked Joe Gage off his feet from behind. It took a little while for referee Ian Davies to restore order, and the net result was yellow cards for Aberavon’s Joe Thomas and Ebbw Vale’s Ethan Phillips, immediately followed by the half-time whistle.
The visitors took the upper hand soon after the restart, with Lloyd crossing for a try and adding a conversion, and while the Wizards’ patched-up pack tried valiantly to make their mark on proceedings it was always an uphill struggle. Going into the third quarter, 12-14 became 12-21 as Chad Thomas raced over for Lloyd to convert, and then Lloyd sent over a penalty to virtually seal the victory, but there was yet more drama as the match drew to a close. Home supporters were incensed at the sight of prop Chris Davies being set upon by two opponents, which went unpunished, and then deep into stoppage time, with the Wizards laying siege to the visitors’ line, another free-for-all broke out with punches flying in all directions. After conferring with both assistant referees, Mr Davies singled out Ebbw Vale centre Dominic Franchi and flanker Lewis Young, and Aberavon prop Jordan Walters for red cards.
In the final moments the Wizards salvaged a single bonus point when Waite crashed over from a driving lineout for an unconverted try.
Aberavon 17 – 24 Ebbw Vale
Jonathan Phillips; Aled Rees (rep Chris Banfield 10 min), Joe Thomas, Joe Gage, Stef Andrews; Rhys Jones (rep Bradley Roderick 63 min), Liam Seaward (rep Iwan Temblett 47 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 59 min), Luke Davies, Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 59 min), Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes (rep Ieuan Davies 36 min), Ashton Evans (rep Sam Parris-Williams 32 min), Dan Baker (rep Andrew Waite 8 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).
Liam Seaward appeared from Morriston RFC.
T – Liam Seaward (2), Andrew Waite
C – Rhys Jones
Ebbw Vale Scorers:
T – Lewis Young, Evan Lloyd, Chad Thomas
C – Evan Lloyd (3)
P – Evan Lloyd
Man Of The Match:
1 – Liam Seaward
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Luke Davies
16 min: Aberavon – T – Liam Seaward (5 – 0)
34 min: Aberavon – T – Liam Seaward & C – Rhys Jones (12 – 0)
40 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Lewis Young & C – Evan Lloyd (12 – 7)
40+7 min: Ebbw Vale – Yellow Card – Ethan Phillips
40+7 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Joe Thomas
40+7 min: Half Time
43 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Evan Lloyd & C – Evan Lloyd (12 – 14)
62 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Chad Thomas & C – Evan Lloyd (12 – 21)
74 min: Ebbw Vale – PG – Evan Lloyd (12 – 24)
80+7 min: Ebbw Vale – Red Card – Lewis Young
80+7 min: Ebbw Vale – Red Card – Dominic Franchi
80+7 min: Aberavon – Red Card – Jordan Walters
80+9 min: Aberavon – T – Andrew Waite (17 – 24)
80+11 min: Full Time