Cardiff 32 – 15 Aberavon
by Paul Williams
Although the Wizards had both the first and last words in this encounter at Cardiff Arms Park, it was too much of an uphill struggle for their injury-hit squad for them to repeat their victory over the then league leaders at back in December.
Once again the Aberavon scrum enjoyed early dominance over the home eight, but it took a little time for possession and territorial advantage to affect the scoreboard, with fly-half Aled Thomas drawing first blood after forward pressure yielded a kickable penalty.
The Wizards kept up the pressure as they sought to increase their lead. A string of penalties against Cardiff earned a stern word from the referee, but a further penalty earned no more that yet another stern word, although the intense pressure finally brought its reward early in the second quarter when quick passing saw Stef Andrews, playing at full-back, cross in the right-hand corner for an unconverted try.
Cardiff wasted no time in responding, however, and just four minutes later left-wing Dewi Cross fielded a cross-kick to run in unopposed and reduced the arrears to just three points, with the score then remaining at 5-8 for the remainder of the half.
The scores were levelled soon after the interval with experienced fly-half Dan Fish putting over a straightforward penalty, and almost immediately the Wizards’ injury woes received a further blow with the sight of flanker Lloyd Evans hobbling painfully off the field. On came youngster Casey Williams, making his second appearance in Aberavon colours having made his debut in a memorable victory at Llandovery a couple of weeks earlier.
Cardiff were quickly back on the attack and after laying siege to the Aberavon line lock James Richards eventually crashed over close to the goalposts for Fish to add the conversion. There then followed a period during which neither side was able to add to their tally, although the home side were now enjoying a greater share of possession and territory only to find the Wizards’ defence something of a tough nut to break down. However, Fish got the scoreboard moving again early in the final quarter, landing a drop-goal to extend the home lead to ten points.
If any doubt about the eventual outcome remained, it was surely eradicated by replacement Morgan Allen crashing through from short range for a try, then wing James Beal racing clear to round off a counter-attack, with Fish converting both to make it 32-8.
To their credit, however, the Wizards refused to throw in the towel, and got some consolation when Casey Williams ran a great angle onto Rhodri Cole’s perfectly-timed pass which saw the flanker race through for his first try in an Aberavon jersey. Replacement fly-half Rhys Jones converted with the last kick of the match.
Ultimately it was Cardiff who got what they wanted from this encounter, but the scoreline fails to reflect the efforts of an Aberavon squad that battled bravely against overwhelming odds.
Cardiff 32 – 15 Aberavon
Stef Andrews; Jay Baker, Callum Carson (rep Joe Thomas 46 min), Bradley Roderick, Frankie Jones; Aled Thomas (rep Rhys Jones 65 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 56 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 46 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 50 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 50 min), Rhodri Hughes, Sam Parris-Williams (capt) (rep Shay Smallman 65 min), Sam Pailor, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (rep Casey Williams 46 min).
Casey Williams appeared from Trebanos RFC.
Rowan Jenkins made his 300th appearance for the club.
T – Stef Andrews, Casey Williams
C – Rhys Jones
P – Aled Thomas
T – Dewi Cross, James Richards, Morgan Allen, James Beal
C – Dan Fish (2)
P – Dan Fish
D – Dan Fish
Man Of The Match:
1 – Rowan Jenkins
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Luke Davies
11 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (0 – 3)
23 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (0 – 8)
27 min: Cardiff – T – Dewi Cross (5 – 8)
40+3 min: Half Time
44 min: Cardiff – PG – Dan Fish (8 – 8)
47 min: Cardiff – T – James Richards & C – Dan Fish (15 – 8)
64 min: Cardiff – DG – Dan Fish (18 – 8)
71 min: Cardiff – T – Morgan Allen & C – Dan Fish (25 – 8)
78 min: Cardiff – T – James Beal & C – Dan Fish (32 – 8)
80+2 min: Aberavon – T – Casey Williams & C – Rhys Jones (32 – 15)
80+3 min: Full Time