By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites suffered a second successive Premiership Cup defeat to a clinical Aberavon side at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
It was a lightning fast start for the Wizards as winger Stef Andrews powered through a tackle from the kick off and sent centre Chay Smith racing clear to score within the opening 20 seconds. Fly half Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
The visitors regathered their thoughts and fly half Liam Popham kicked his side into the Aberavon half with a penalty touch finder. A superb offload by lock Matt Dodd found hooker Owen Thomas who sprinted across the twenty-two. A couple of phases later the Wizards’ defence crept offside in midfield, allowing Popham to convert a relatively easy penalty goal.
Dodd rose high to take the restart and made a good few yards upfield, but a forward pass by Popham brought an end to the move.
The home pack destroyed their counterparts at the first scrum and Aled Thomas made them pay with a successful effort at goal.
Following a turnover, the Aberavon defence failed to roll away after the tackle and Popham kicked the three pointer.
The Wizards looked to mount a dangerous attack but overcomplicated the move and flanker Will Hickey gathered a loose ball. Another transgression by the home defence gave Swansea a penalty, which Popham duly converted.
Aled Thomas failed to reach the 10-metre line with his restart, but he was bailed out by his pack who drove the Whites off their own scrum.
Flanker Lloyd Evans made a break from half way and he was supported by centre Joe Thomas, who spread play out to the opposite side. Lock Rhodri Hughes took a crash ball but support was too slow to arrive and he gave away a penalty.
The visitors were penalised again at the scrum, this time for driving inwards, and this time Aled Thomas chose to chip to the corner. Prop Tom Northy managed to disrupt the lineout and the Wizards surrendered possession.
Aberavon looked to have grabbed a second try when Aled Thomas chipped into the corner for Chris Banfield to chase, but the winger was unable to ground the ball. Play was brought back for a penalty though and Thomas kicked to the corner. A poor error by number eight Andrew Waite brought an end to the move.
Winger Gareth Rees used his strength to power over half way and the Wizards were penalised again, this time for a high tackle. Popham opted to kick for the corner with Dodd collecting the lineout, but a chip ahead was shepherded dead by full back Joe Gage.
A superb break by Joe Thomas split the Whites defence with scrum half Rhodri Cole and flanker Lee Purnell combining in midfield. The visitors gave away another penalty and this time referee Dewi Phillips yellow carded hooker Owen Thomas. The home side opted for a scrum and the visitors could do nothing to prevent a penalty try on the stroke of half time.
Half-time:- Aberavon 15-9 Swansea
The home side were quick to find their feet in the second half with a sustained attack on the Whites’ twenty-two ending and a chargedown saw hooker Luke Davies power towards the line, allowing Gage to dive over for his side’s second try. Aled Thomas converted.
With the Wizards beginning to run riot, all the Whites could do to prevent another attack was to kill the ball. Knowing their pack was far superior, Aberavon opted for a scrum 10 metres from the line. This time it was replacement prop Cameron Jones’ turn to see yellow following another scrummaging transgression.
The Aberavon forwards again made yards at the scrum, which gave their backs an ideal platform to spread play wide for Banfield to score in the corner. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
Smith spotted a gap in the Swansea defence and almost reached the twenty-two, but the visitors managed to steal possession back through Hickey.
In a rare Swansea attack Popham chipped to the corner after the home side were penalised for offside. Dodd rose to collect the lineout, but Popham’s kick to the corner was defused by Gage.
Aberavon were soon back inside the Swansea twenty-two when Lloyd Evans and Andrews linked up, but a try saving tackle by centre Hanno Dirksen prevented a certain Frankie Jones try in the corner.
With the last play of the game a quick tap penalty by scrum half Ben Ley took the visitors to within a few metres of the line and Dirksen crashed over for a consolation score.
Full-time:- Aberavon 27-14 Swansea
Tries:- Chay Smith (1), Penalty Try (40+4), Joe Gage (44), Chris Banfield (55)
Cons:- Aled Thomas (45)
Pens:- Aled Thomas (11)
Tries:- Hanno Dirksen (80)
Pens:- Liam Popham (8, 13, 16)
Yellow cards:- Owen Thomas (40+2), Cameron Jones (52)
Venue:- Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot
Referee:- Dewi Phillips
Weather:- Cloudy, 22C
Man of the match:- Joe Thomas
15 Joe Gage
14 Chris Banfield
13 Chay Smith
12 Joe Thomas
11 Stef Andrews (rep: Matthew Jenkins 75)
10 Aled Thomas (rep: Frankie Jones 57)
9 Rhodri Cole (rep: Iwan Temblett 57)
1 Rhys Fawcett (ep: Ashton Evans 65)
2 Luke Davies (rep: Cameron Lewis 69)
3 Geraint James (rep: Nicky Thomas 65)
4 Shay Smallman
5 Rhodri Hughes
6 Lee Purnell (rep: Billy Moxey 73)
7 Lloyd Evans
8 Andrew Waite (rep: Jordan Walters 61)
16 Iwan Temblett
17 Frankie Jones
18 Matthew Jenkins
19 Cameron Lewis
20 Billy Moxey
21 Ashton Evans
22 Jordan Walters
23 Nicky Thomas
15 Harri Houston
14 Matt Billett (rep: Aneurin James 40+2-48, rep: Tom Northy 53-64, rep: J Rhys Williams 64)
13 Curtis Davies
12 Hanno Dirksen
11 Gareth Rees
10 Liam Popham
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Ben Ley 75)
1 Tom Northy (rep: Cameron Jones 48)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Aneurin James 67)
3 Jordan Pritchard (rep: Alun Dew 48)
4 Matt Dodd (rep: Owen Morgan 78)
5 Jay Williams
6 Will Hickey
7 Callum Bowden (rep: Charlie Davies 73)
8 Jon Fox © (rep: James Fender 48)
16 Aneurin James
17 Cameron Jones
18 Alun Dew
19 Owen Morgan
20 James Fender
21 Charlie Davies
22 Ben Ley
23 J Rhys Williams