By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites endured a difficult afternoon at the Talbot Athletic Ground as they shipped eight tries in a dismal 13-48 defeat at the hands of Aberavon.
It started well for the visitors when lock Lloyd Ashley took a lineout inside the Aberavon half and winger Gareth O Rees made a break down the wing, but his chip ahead sailed straight into touch much to the frustration of the chasing scrum half Gareth J Rees.
Winger Jay Baker superbly intercepted a pass on half way, and although he wasn’t able to break a tackle, he found full back Stef Andrews and flanker Rhys Thomas in support, who took play up to the 22. The home side recycled the ball quickly out wide with hooker Cameron Lewis putting on the afterburners to score a superb try. Fly half James Davies converted.
Lock Rhodri Hughes took a scrappy lineout for the home side as they made good yards upfield, but James Davies’ high kick was safely marked by full back Harri Houston. An uncharacteristic error by James Davies gave Swansea possession back after his kick sailed out on the full.
Gareth J Rees wriggled out of a tackle and over half way, but play was brought back for a high challenge by the Wizards. Fly half Jacob Symes successfully kicked the resulting penalty goal.
Centre Osian Knott did well to grab the ball out of Baker’s hands and the visitors were awarded a penalty soon after when the Wizards’ defence crept offside. Symes found touch inside the Aberavon half with his kick.
A well weighted dink across the field by James Davies found Baker on the wing, who used his pace to draw in Whites’ tacklers and then feed centre Joe Gage, who chipped ahead for scrum half Liam Seaward to score a sensational try. James Davies converted.
The Wizards began to run riot and a powerful scrum gave the backs a superb platform with Gage and fellow centre Callum Carson combining to take play up to the try line. A mistake followed, but referee Craig Evans brought play back for an offside offence. The home side ominously opted for a five metre scrum.
It paid off as number eight Andrew Waite profited at the base of the advancing scrum, touching down easily for a third try. James Davies converted.
A late tackle by the home side gave Swansea a penalty and Symes this time chose to kick into the corner. Ashley took the lineout and the Wizards were penalised for an offence at the set piece so Symes again dinked into the corner.
A further couple of penalties later and Evans’ patience gave in and he yellow carded Hughes for persistent offside. Ashley took the lineout for a third time and a superb rolling maul saw hooker Jack Rodon crash over for a try. Symes missed the conversion.
The Wizards looked to attack again but a superb tackle by flanker Lloyd Evans brought an end to the dangerous move. The Whites gave away a penalty at the scrum though, which James Davies chipped into the corner. Although the Whites looked to have repelled the maul and gained a turnover, prop Tom Sloane lost the ball forward at the base of the ruck.
The Aberavon pack were penalised for pulling down a maul so Symes found touch inside the opposing 22. Ashley took the lineout but the ball bounced into the hands of winger Frankie Jones, who cleared.
Replacement hooker Archie Ivens found space and made a superb break through the middle, before Houston danced past a couple of tacklers to take play over the 22. The ball was then fed out wide for flanker Sam Pailor to score in the corner. Symes’ conversion attempt fell short of the posts.
It was a bit of a purple patch for the visitors in the period before half time and they were awarded a further penalty when the Aberavon forwards failed to roll away from the tackle. Symes found touch inside the 22 but Ivens’ throw wasn’t straight.
Half-time:- Aberavon 21-13 Swansea
A poor error by the home side at the restart gifted Swansea a scrum inside the 22, and a further offside offence earned the Whites a penalty, which Symes kicked into the corner.
A miscued lineout was stolen by Lewis and the home side were able to clear long through James Davies. Moments later Gage was warned on behalf of his team and Symes again found touch with the penalty.
A poor lineout was collected by replacement prop Rhys Fawcett, but Carson failed to hold onto the pass, giving possession back to Swansea. An exciting period of play followed when first Fawcett made a break through the middle for the home side, and then Houston showed his pace for the Whites, although the move ended with Aberavon being awarded a penalty after support was too slow to arrive.
Flanker Ben Gregory took a lineout and the ball was fed out wide to Baker, with the visitors giving away a penalty at the breakdown. James Davies kicked deep into the corner with Gregory rising high to collect the ball and the pack mauled forward, resulting in a try for Lewis. James Davies missed the conversion.
Replacement scrum half Dan Roderick made a superb break from a ruck, but lost possession soon after with Baker able to clear. Instead Evans, number eight Callum Bowden and Knott combined to take play up to the Aberavon 22. The Wizards were penalised for diving off their feet at the ruck and James Davies kicked to touch.
A well worked move by the Whites saw the ball swept out wide to replacement winger Brandon Wood, but the supporting Houston was penalised for holding on at the tackle.
Rhys Thomas took a lineout on the Swansea 22 and the ball was passed out wide to Jones, but play was brought back for an earlier offside penalty. James Davies chose to kick to the corner and replacement lock James Clegg collected the lineout with substitute hooker Luke Davies charging forward, but he was penalised.
Houston’s clearance kick sailed out on the full to put the All Whites under pressure but a poor lineout was taken by Bowden who was able to clear. The respite didn’t last long though as the home side were awarded a penalty, which James Davies chipped up to the 22.
Clegg took the lineout and a clever chip through by Carson almost sent in Gage, but the alert Bowden got back to ground the ball dead.
A fantastic take by replacement scrum half Scott Whitlock sent Hughes powering forward and the Wizards got the ball out wide quickly for Rhys Thomas to score another home try. James Davies converted.
Wood used his pace on the wing to take Swansea over the Aberavon 22 and replacement winger Bradley Roderick came close to an interception, but lost the ball forward.
The visitors gave away another penalty with Wood shown a yellow card. Replacement fly half Aled Thomas chipped to the corner and an outstanding rolling maul saw substitute prop Cameron Loveys pick up and score. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
A superb link up between Whitlock and Andrews at the restart took the home side up to within a few metres of the Swansea line, but a mistake brought an end to the move.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Gregory charged down a Roderick box kick, with the bounce favouring him as he was able to touch down for a try. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
The visitors were penalised for holding on after the tackle so Aled Thomas found touch deep inside the 22. Quick ball out wide by Whitlock saw Baker touch down for a try to round off a magnificent performance by the Wizards. The only small annoyance was that Aled Thomas missed the conversion and the chance to bring up a half century.
Next up for Aberavon is a home match against RGC 1404 in mid February, while Swansea host league champions Llandovery in two weeks’ time.
Full-time:- Aberavon 48-13 Swansea
Tries:- Cameron Lewis (5, 48), Liam Seaward (16), Andrew Waite (21), Rhys Thomas (64), Cameron Loveys (72), Ben Gregory (77), Jay Baker (80+1)
Cons:- James Davies (6, 17, 22, 65)
Yellow cards:- Rhodri Hughes (26)
Tries:- Jack Rodon (29), Sam Pailor (40+1)
Pens:- Jacob Symes (11)
Yellow cards:- Brandon Wood (71)
Venue:- Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot
Weather:- Sunny, 9C
Referee:- Craig Evans
Man of the match:- Rhys Thomas
15 Stef Andrews
14 Frankie Jones (rep: Bradley Roderick 65)
13 Callum Carson
12 Joe Gage ©
11 Jay Baker
10 James Davies (rep: Aled Thomas 70)
9 Liam Seaward (rep: Scott Whitlock 46)
1 Rowan Jenkins (rep: Rhys Fawcett 27)
2 Cameron Lewis (rep: Luke Davies 55)
3 Geraint James (rep: Morgan James 73)
4 Ross Fox (rep: James Clegg 55)
5 Rhodri Hughes
6 Rhys Thomas
7 Ben Gregory
8 Andrew Waite (rep: Cameron Loveys 68)
16 Scott Whitlock
17 Aled Thomas
18 Bradley Roderick
19 Luke Davies
20 James Clegg
21 Cameron Loveys
22 Rhys Fawcett
23 Morgan James
15 Harri Houston
14 Gareth O Rees
13 Joe Thomas
12 Osian Knott (rep: Marcus Brown 70)
11 Llien Morgan (rep: Brandon Wood 49)
10 Jacob Symes
9 Gareth J Rees (rep: Dan Roderick 23)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Daf Davies 55)
2 Jack Rodon (rep: Archie Ivens 33)
3 Ed Thompson (rep: Scott Jenkins 49)
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 Matt Dodd (rep: Jack Regan 40+1)
6 Sam Pailor (rep: Cai Davies 55)
7 Lloyd Evans
8 Callum Bowden ©
16 Archie Ivens
17 Daf Davies
18 Scott Jenkins
19 Jack Regan
20 Cai Davies
21 Dan Roderick
22 Marcus Brown
23 Brandon Wood