Aberavon 10 – 27 Pontypridd
by Paul Williams
From an Aberavon viewpoint, this one will probably be filed under “forget and move on”. On an afternoon where next to nothing went right for the Wizards, Pontypridd notched their second victory of the season at the Talbot Athletic Ground, mystifying anyone who saw an Aberavon team in top form record an impressive victory at Sardis Road on a sunny afternoon in early October.
The visitors got off to a perfect start when the Wizards failed to secure the kick-off. A speculative kick to the home line looked fairly innocuous until the bounce of the ball eluded the defence allowing fly-half Jamie Murphy to regather and claim, with still only seconds on the clock, a try that he also converted.
The home side, in fairness, did respond by throwing everything at the Pontypridd defence, but an uncharacteristically high error rate repeatedly foiled their best efforts to reduce the arrears. A golden opportunity went begging after skipper Joe Tomalin-Reeves broke through in midfield to link with Joe Gage, but what looked like a nailed-on seven pointer failed to happen as the final pass went to ground.
Eventually the Wizards levelled the score after sustained pressure yielded an attacking lineout from which hooker Luke Davies, at the helm of the ensuing maul as it relentlessly advanced, crashed over for a typical try that fly-half Rhys Jones converted.
Back, however, came the visitors, with a midfield burst paving the way for back row man Sion Parry to cross for Murphy to convert, and although Jones reduced the arrears to 10-14 with a penalty just before half-time, the Wizards looked less than comfortable as they left the field at the interval.
Much of the second half saw defences on top as both teams struggled to make any progress. Murphy added a penalty to restore the visitors’ seven-point lead late in the third quarter, but with much of the play confined to the middle third of the field there was still everything to play for. However, the final quarter saw Pontypridd seal a memorable victory when scrum-half Joel Raikes found just enough space to break through and cross for an unconverted try, and shortly afterwards skipper and lock Kristian Parker crashed over in the right-hand corner to make it 10-27 as the home crowd were moved to wonder at an Aberavon team that was flying high during the first half of the season suffering such a dramatic loss of form for this match.
Aberavon 10 – 27 Pontypridd
Jonathan Phillips (rep Frankie Jones 62 min); Chris Banfield, Callum Carson, Joe Gage, Gabe Lacey; Rhys Jones (rep Aled Thomas 48 min), Liam Seaward (rep Iwan Temblett 55 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 57 min), Luke Davies (rep Jamie Cox 67 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 57 min), Sam Pailor, Sam Parris-Williams (rep Shay Smallman half-time), Ashton Evans, Dan Baker (rep Andrew Waite 55 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).
Gabe Lacey appeared from Porthcawl RFC; Liam Seaward appeared from Morriston RFC; Jamie Cox appeared from Trebanos RFC.
T – Luke Davies
C – Rhys Jones
P – Rhys Jones
T – Jamie Murphy, Sion Parry, Joel Raikes, Kristian Parker
C – Jamie Murphy (2)
P – Jamie Murphy
Man Of The Match:
1 – Ashton Evans
2 – Luke Davies
3 – Joe Gage
57 sec: Pontypridd – T – Jamie Murphy & C – Jamie Murphy (0 – 7)
06 min: Pontypridd – Yellow Card – Jordan Howells
15 min: Aberavon – T – Luke Davies & C – Rhys Jones (7 – 7)
17 min: Pontypridd – End Yellow Card – Jordan Howells
22 min: Pontypridd – T – Sion Parry & C – Jamie Murphy (7 – 14)
39 min: Aberavon – PG – Rhys Jones (10 – 14)
40+2 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Dan Baker
40+5 min: Half Time
47 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Dan Baker
55 min: Pontypridd – PG – Jamie Murphy (10 – 17)
70 min: Pontypridd – T – Joel Raikes (10 – 22)
76 min: Pontypridd – T – Kristian Parker (10 – 27)
80+5 min: Full Time