Match Report: Llanelli 21 – 55 Aberavon

Llanelli 21 – 55 Aberavon
by Paul Williams

The Wizards got back to winning ways with an emphatic eight-try performance to score a league ‘double’ for the season against a Llanelli side that never gave up despite facing an Aberavon side that was clearly determined to get their season back on track following some recent disappointments.

While Aberavon’s scrummaging prowess has been a feature for much of the season, on this occasion it was the Wizards’ collective running and handling that the home side struggled to contain. A decent supply of possession came from a pack that worked tirelessly, in which lock Rhodri Hughes was a tower of strength in both lineout and loose play. Behind them experienced fly-half Aled Thomas was in masterful form as the midfield playmaker, and the sparse crowd were treated to some scintillating moments as the visitors’ set about building a commanding lead.

It took just two minutes for the Wizards to register their first score, as a clever kick ahead from flanker Lloyd Evans saw Stef Andrews comfortably win the race to touch down for the opening try. Thomas added the conversion, and shortly afterwards added a penalty goal.

Evans himself was then in on the act as he forced his way over from close range for Thomas to again convert, taking the score to 0-17 after fifteen minutes.

A rare Llanelli sortie into Aberavon territory then saw the home side register their first points, with Ieuan Davies adjudged by referee Dewi Phillips to have collapsed a driving maul close to the goal line, earning the home side a penalty try and himself a ten-minute spell in the sin-bin.

Any thoughts of the Aberavon hooker’s temporary absence letting Llanelli back into the game, however, were short-lived as within a couple of minutes a bout of quick passing saw full-back Jonathan Phillips cross for Thomas to again convert, and ten minutes later a length-of-the-field move that saw the ball pass through countless pairs of hands saw Phillips go racing in for his second try. Thomas’ fourth conversion made it 7-31, and although Aberavon skipper Joe Tomalin-Reeves was himself sin-binned for a technical offence close to the visitors’ goal-line, there seemed to be little cause for optimism in the home camp with the Wizards having already secured a bonus point.

Shortly after the interval the Wizards were again on the attack, and scrum-half Liam Seaward did well to dart around the blind side of a scrum and squeeze in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Seconds before Tomalin-Reeves returned to the fray Llanelli got their second try through centre Joe Hutchings, with Luke Davies adding the extras to make it 14-36, but with the Wizards back to full strength a driving line-out saw Ieuan Davies claim a typical touch-down with Thomas again adding the conversion.

The final few minutes brought another flurry of scoring. Back row replacement Andrew Waite launched an attack from inside the Aberavon 22 that gained impetus as the backs joined in, with centre Callum Carson eventually crossing in the left-hand corner for an unconverted try to make it 14-48, before Hutchings and Davies between them conjured a further converted try for the home side, but the Wizards then produced a fitting finale as they ran out the ball from close to their own line, with Chris Banfield sending Stef Andrews up the right-hand touchline before Carson and Brad Roderick got involved and finally replacement scrum-half Rhodri Cole, returning to action after a spell out injured, came racing up the middle to take the final pass and cross at the posts for Thomas to convert with the final kick of the match.

Llanelli 21 – 55 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Aled Rees 60 min); Chris Banfield, Callum Carson, Joe Gage (rep Bradley Roderick 70 min), Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Liam Seaward (rep Rhodri Cole 52 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Fawcett 52 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 60 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 52 min), Shay Smallman (rep Sam Pailor 52 min), Rhodri Hughes, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt), Steffan Lewis (temp rep Luke Davies 25-36 min), Lloyd Evans (rep Andrew Waite 52 min).

Liam Seaward appeared from Morriston RFC; Steffan Lewis appeared from Tondu RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T – Jonathan Phillips (2), Stef Andrews, Lloyd Evans, Liam Seaward, Ieuan Davies, Callum Carson, Rhodri Cole.
C – Aled Thomas (6)
P – Aled Thomas

Llanelli Scorers:
T – Joe Hutchings (2), Penalty Try.
C – Luke Davies (2)

Dewi Phillips

Man Of The Match:
1 – Lloyd Evans
2 – Rhodri Hughes
3 – Chris Banfield

Time Line:
02 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews & C – Aled Thomas (0 – 7)
07 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (0 – 10)
15 min: Aberavon – T – Lloyd Evans & C – Aled Thomas (0 – 17)
24 min: Llanelli – T – Penalty Try (7 – 17)
24 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Ieuan Davies
27 min: Aberavon – T – Jonathan Phillips & C – Aled Thomas (7 – 24)
36 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Ieuan Davies
37 min: Aberavon – T – Jonathan Phillips & C – Aled Thomas (7 – 31)
40+8 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
40+9 min: Half Time
46 min: Aberavon – T – Liam Seaward (7 – 36)
51 min: Llanelli – T – Joe Hutchings & C – Luke Davies (14 – 36)
52 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
59 min: Aberavon – T – Ieuan Davies & C – Aled Thomas (14 – 43)
76 min: Aberavon – T – Callum Carson (14 – 48)
79 min: Llanelli – T – Joe Hutchings & C – Luke Davies (21 – 48)
80+2 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Aled Thomas (21 – 55)
80+3 min: Full Time