Aberavon 24-14 Swansea
By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea were outmuscled upfront as they fell to defeat at the hands of Aberavon in a keenly fought encounter.
The Wizards made the brighter start and lock Ben Thomas rose high to collect a lineout with centre Chay Smith taking a crash ball, forcing the visitors offside. The home side took a quick tap penalty, but winger Frankie Jones was unable to break through the gain line and the move broke down.
Swansea were penalised for failing to roll away after the tackle and fly half Aled Thomas opted to kick at goal, but a strong breeze meant the ball drifted well wide of the posts.
Aled Thomas made a break up to the Swansea twenty-two with number eight Andy Waite charging up to within 10 metres of the line, but an outstanding tackle by centre Rhys Williams stopped Aled Thomas in his tracks, earning a penalty.
The penalty was reversed due to an earlier offside spotted by the touch judge so Aled Thomas chipped to the corner. A powerful maul by the Wizards’ pack was held up over the line by a desperate visitors defence.
From the scrum five, the Aberavon pack drove forward giving referee Shota Tevzadze no option but to award a penalty try.
Swansea looked to hit back immediately and full back Max Nagy made a break upfield. The home side were penalised for offside but fly half Steffen Williams dragged his effort at goal wide of the post.
Rhys Williams injected pace into a Swansea attack and number eight Rob McCusker battered his way forward, but the Welsh international was penalised for tackling a man off the ball.
Winger Stef Andrews and Smith linked up out wide as the Wizards counterattacked, but Aled Thomas was dragged down on half way. The home side successfully recycled the ball, but full back Joe Gage was bundled into touch.
Play was stopped as a fight broke out between flankers Joe Tomalin Reeves and Duane Eager, but both players shook hands and the game continued without any cards issued.
Waite burst through a tackle and ran at the Swansea defence at pace, but his pass out wide was poor and the visitors were able to clear the danger.
Half-time:- Aberavon 7 Swansea 0
The visitors secured a turnover straight from the restart and built an attack through and phases before Nagy lost possession forward.
The Wizards were soon back on the attack, although a dogged Swansea defence meant they made slow progress, Stef Andrews sprinted into the twenty-two, only for flanker Lloyd Evans to drop the crucial pass.
The outstanding Aberavon pack earned another penalty at the scrum and Aled Thomas kicked the three pointer.
The home side were penalised at the scrum, but centre Jack Evans missed touch, although he was given a reprieve thanks to a poor clearance. McCusker collected a short range lineout for the visitors and prop Tom Sloane powered over for a try. Replacement fly half James Davies converted.
Another scrummaging infringement by the visitors gifted Aberavon a penalty, which Aled Thomas chipped to the corner, but obstruction gave Swansea a chance to clear.
The home side extended their lead with five minutes remaining when a superb line break by Aled Thomas confused the Swansea defence and the fly half handed a scoring pass to replacement winger Garyn Payne. Aled Thomas converted.
There was still time for Aberavon to grab a third try and the pack drove towards the line with scrum half Rhodri Cole scoring in the corner. Aled Thomas converted.
The Whites camped on the Aberavon line as they went in search of a consolation try and Nagy managed to squeeze a long pass out wide to winger Gareth Rees, who scored. James Davies converted.
Full-time:- Aberavon 24 Swansea 14
Tries:- Penalty Try (22), Garyn Payne (74), Rhodri Cole (80+2)
Cons:- Aled Thomas (80+3)
Pens:- Aled Thomas (55)
Yellow cards:- Rhys Thomas (79), Ashton Evans (80+9)
Tries:- Tom Sloane (63), Gareth Rees (80+10)
Cons:- James Davies (64, 80+11)
Yellow cards:- Huw Sutton (80+1)
Venue:- Talbot Athletic Ground
Weather:- Sunny, 21C
Man of the match:- Aled Thomas
15 Joe Gage
14 Frankie Jones (rep: Garyn Payne 73)
13 Chay Smith
12 Will Price
11 Stef Andrews (rep: Dan Davies 80+1)
10 Aled Thomas
9 Rhodri Cole
1 Rowan Jenkins (rep: Rhys Thomas 66)
2 Luke Davies (rep: Ieuan Davies 66)
3 Geraint James (rep: Chris Davies 53)
4 Ben Thomas (rep: Shay Smallman 53)
5 Sam Williams
6 Joe Tomalin Reeves (rep: Lee Purnell 66)
7 Lloyd Evans
8 Andy Waite (rep: Ashton Evans 80+4)
16 Dan Davies
17 Garyn Payne
18 Lee Purnell
19 Ieuan Davies
20 Rhys Thomas
21 Ashton Evans
22 Shay Smallman
23 Chris Davies
15 Max Nagy
14 Brandon Wood
13 Rhys Williams (rep: Callum Carson 56)
12 Jack Evans
11 Gareth Rees
10 Steffen Williams (rep: James Davies 56)
9 Chris Morgans (rep: Tom Lucas 73)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Eddie Drake 73)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Matthew Moore 53)
3 Alun Dew (rep: Jordan Pritchard 56)
4 Shaun O’Rourke
5 Owen Morgan (rep: Huw Sutton 64)
6 Duane Eager (rep: Harry Davies 75)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Rob McCusker
16 Matthew Moore
17 Eddie Drake
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 Huw Sutton
20 Harry Davies
21 Tom Lucas
22 James Davies
23 Callum Carson