by Howard Evans
Despite some terrible weather and a good effort by Swansea, Aberavon were able to increase their lead at the top of the West section and scored five tries.
It wasn’t particularly pretty at times and there were some nail-biting minutes, but the ‘Wizards’ got what they came for – another five-point win.
There were several plusses with Matthew Jenkins coming back with a brace of tries and Aled Thomas, Lee Purnell and Stef Andrews also making good returns after injury.
However, there will be questions of the lack of power in midfield at times, but the defence was mostly good and the front row was as strong as ever.
Swansea put up a good, brave show and were 20-18 up with just over ten minutes to play as the wind eased and fly-half James Davies kicked his goals splendidly.
There is a theory that Aberavon play better against stronger opponents, but they certainly never throw the towel in, as they showed when Chay Smith was yellow-carded.
While Matthew Jenkins played very well, Ieuan Davies went the whole distance as hooker; Shay Smallman put in a huge effort at lock and Rhodri Cole also gave of his best at scrum-half.
Joe Gage later said that he took a knock on the head but recovered and Lloyd Evans appeared to leave late on after a ‘stinger’ to the shoulder.
Aberavon went in front when Cole went left and the smart finish came from Andrews near the corner. It was followed by the forwards going hard and Lloyd Evans appeared to get the score.
With a strong wind behind him, James Davies then opened Swansea’s score with a penalty, but another good try by Andrews took it to 15-3.
Chris Banfield replaced Gage and though getting few chances to attack, Chris went on to give his usual whole-hearted performance.
However, as it neared half-time, Swansea’s useful scrum-half Ben Ley handled twice before going over for a good try that James Davies converted.
The second half started with a big Swansea effort and a try by No 8 Charlie Davies levelled it at 15-all before James Davies converted well to give the ‘All-Whites’ the lead.
Aled Thomas then kicked a good goal to give Aberavon the lead at 18-17, but James Davies came back with a penalty to restore Swansea’s lead at 20-18.
It was now a case of next score the winner and it was Matthew Jenkins who gained a try, again unconverted, for a 23-20 lead and a bonus point.
In the last few seconds, Jenkins got another with smart following-up to a clever Cole kick and Aled Thomas kicked a splendid touchline conversion that both he and the good Aberavon support must have enjoyed.
In the few seconds remaining 17-years-old Rhodri Lewis came on to replace Cole and become the youngest player to appear for the ‘Wizards’ in the professional era.
The ‘Wizards’ will have to up their game again next week if they are to complete a double over a fast-improving Bridgend side at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
It should be added that Swansea were most unlucky not to have gained at least one point from the match.
Swansea 20 – 30 Aberavon
Joe Gage (rep Chris Banfield 29 min); Matthew Jenkins, Chay Smith, Will Price (capt), Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas (rep Joe Thomas 80+4 min), Rhodri Cole (rep Rhodri Lewis 80+4 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 69 min), Ieuan Davies, Nicky Thomas (rep Geraint James half-time), Shay Smallman, Sam Williams (rep Sam Pailor 62 min), Ashton Evans (rep Lee Purnell 62 min), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (rep Llew Phillips-Taylor 78 min)
Matthew Jenkins, Llew Phillips-Taylor and Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC; Rhodri Lewis appeared from the Ospreys.
Club debut for Rhodri Lewis who became the youngest Wizard ever in the semi-pro era. Ashley Beck was the youngest at 17 years and 132 days – off the bench against Pontypridd in 2007. Rhodri was 17 years and 81 days young when he came off the bench against Swansea.
T – Stef Andrews (2), Matthew Jenkins (2), Lloyd Evans
C – Aled Thomas
PG – Aled Thomas
T – Ben Ley, Charlie Davies
C – James Davies (2)
PG – James Davies (2)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Matthew Jenkins
2 – Rhodri Cole
3 – Stef Andrews
10 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (0 – 5)
16 min: Aberavon – T – Lloyd Evans (0 – 10)
25 min: Swansea – PG – James Davies (3 – 10)
26 min: Swansea – Yellow Card – Leon McNally
30 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (3 – 15)
35 min: Swansea – T – Ben Ley & C – James Davies (10 – 15)
40+1 min: Half Time
49 min: Swansea – T – Charlie Davies & C – James Davies (17 – 15)
55 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (17 – 18)
65 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Chay Smith
66 min: Swansea – PG – James Davies (20 – 18)
70 min: Swansea – Yellow Card – Tom Sloane
72 min: Aberavon – T – Matthew Jenkins (20 – 23)
80+2 min: Swansea – Yellow Card (= Red Card) – Leon McNally
80+4 min: Aberavon – T – Matthew Jenkins & C – Aled Thomas (20 – 30)
80+6 min: Full Time