by Howard Evans
Aberavon outscored Llanelli by 7-2 on tries to win an entertaining match at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
The visitors tried hard, but though they had pace in the backs, Aberavon matched them in the running game and had too much experience all around.
With several changes from last week’s win over Carmarthen, Aberavon were trying out several new combinations.
Joe Gage played splendidly in the centre as did Iwan Temblett at scrum-half in his first start since a bad shoulder injury and Jordan Walters was strong at loose-head prop.
With Johnny Phillips again outstanding at full-back, there were players all over the park putting their hands up for a place in the cup semi-final side.
In the pack, they all went well and Lee Purnell once again played like an enthusiastic teenager.
Even the replacements all gave their best with young Zac Fifield showing great maturity as scrum-half and wing Aled Rees romping over for his try.
Temblett was particularly effective and he totally outplayed Wales under-20 cap Harri Williams at the base of the scrum.
After only three minutes Temblett broke splendidly and the alert Stef Andrews finished off a clever move.
Andrews soon gained another try after brilliant play by Gage and just beat Purnell to the touchdown that Aled Thomas converted.
However, Llanelli hit back with a high-speed try touched down by winger Amir Jiwa-Walji that fly-half Ioan Hughes converted.
The home forwards then took a hand and hooker Ieuan Davies gained the touchdown and then Gage sent Temblett over (though many thought it was Joe Thomas) for a 24-7 half-time lead.
Aberavon started to ring the changes as all the replacements got a much-needed runout.
Davies scored his second try and fourth in the league after a forward rumble and Aled converted, though Jira-Walji replied for Llanelli with his second and the lively Hughes again converted.
But, Aberavon finished far stronger and a great team effort went to the left, then back across to the right and was finished off in style by Frankie Jones with Thomas kicking a superb conversion.
There was still time for the seventh try that saw replacement wing Aled Rees racing clear and Aled added his fifth successful conversion.
Aberavon 45 – 14 Llanelli
Jonathan Phillips (rep Aled Rees 58 min); Frankie Jones, Joe Thomas (rep Chay Smith half-time), Joe Gage, Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Iwan Temblett (rep Zac Fifield 55 min); Jordan Walters (rep Rowan Jenkins half-time), Ieuan Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 58 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 47 min), Shay Smallman, Sam Williams (rep Sam Pailor 55 min), Lee Purnell, Ashton Evans (rep Andrew Waite 57 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).
Zac Fifield appeared from Glamorgan Wanderers RFC; Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC.
T – Stef Andrews (2), Ieuan Davies (2), Iwan Temblett, Frankie Jones, Aled Rees
C – Aled Thomas (5)
T – Amir Jiwa-Walji (2)
C – Ioan Hughes (2)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Gage
2 – Ieuan Davies
3 – Stef Andrews
03 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (5 – 0)
11 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews & C – Aled Thomas (12 – 0)
13 min: Llanelli – T – Amir Jiwa-Walji & C – Ioan Hughes (12 – 7)
30 min: Aberavon – T – Ieuan Davies (17 – 7)
35 min: Aberavon – T – Iwan Temblett & C – Aled Thomas (24 – 7)
40+1 min: Half Time
54 min: Aberavon – T – Ieuan Davies & C – Aled Thomas (31 – 7)
68 min: Llanelli – T – Amir Jiwa-Walji & C – Ioan Hughes (31 – 14)
73 min: Aberavon – T – Frankie Jones & C – Aled Thomas (38 – 14)
80 min: Aberavon – T – Aled Rees & C – Aled Thomas (45 – 14)
80+6 min: Full Time