By: Paul Hopkins
A spirited second half display by Swansea wasn’t enough as the Wizards pulled clear in the final 10 minutes to seal a double over Hugh Gustafson’s men.
The Aberavon pack set an ominous tone within the opening minutes by powering their opponents off a scrum, earning a penalty which fly half Aled Thomas chipped up to the 22. Hooker Owen Thomas did well to pick up a loose pass and his side was able to clear.
Another set piece penalty followed though and Aled Thomas again kicked into the corner. A dogged Whites defence looked to have reclaimed possession, but a knock on gifted the Wizards a scrum five.
From the attacking scrum, the visitors got the ball quickly out wide for winger Stef Andrews to score the opening try. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
The home side gave away a sixth penalty with referee Jason Bessant giving captain Jay Williams a stern talking to. Aled Thomas found touch on the 22 and the Wizards pack drove 22 metres for flanker Lloyd Evans to crash over for a try. An unfortunate gust of wind sent Aled Thomas’ conversion sailing well wide of the posts.
Swansea embarked on their first attack with full back Gareth Rees collecting his own chip and chase into the 22. Centre Hanno Dirksen then powered towards the line, but lost the ball forward at the crucial moment.
A high kick bamboozled full back Joe Gage with Dirksen rising high to collect the ball. Offside in the Wizards’ defence gave Swansea a penalty, which fly half James Davies slotted between the posts.
Referee Bessant’s patience finally gave and flanker Leon McNally was yellow carded for offside at the breakdown. Aled Thomas chipped to the corner, but the home pack miraculously held out at the maul, earning a relieving scrum.
A second Wizards try came when winger Matthew Jenkins burst out of a tackle and was held up on the line, before scrum half Rhodri Coles recycled the ball out wide for Andrews to squeeze over for his second touchdown of the afternoon. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
Aberavon were penalised for offside in midfield, giving James Davies a chance to find touch on the 22. Winger Kian Abraham used his pace to break through a tackle and he found scrum half Ben Ley with an inside pass for a try. James Davies converted.
Half-time:- Swansea 10-15 Aberavon
Swanaea began the second half in positive fashion and a chargedown fell into the hands of Ley, who raced 30 metres upfield from his own 22. The Wizards were penalised for offside and James Davies found touch inside the Aberavon 22.
Lock Matt Dodd claimed possession at the front of the lineout and the Whites tried to spread the ball out to the backs, but prop Tom Sloane was caught in the tackle and was unable to release, giving away a turnover at the maul.
Dirksen made a break through the middle as the home side continued to attack. The visitors were penalised for offside and James Davies kicked to the corner. Number eight Charlie Davies took the lineout and his pack kept their cool to drive him over for a try at the corner. James Davies converted to take his side into the lead.
Aberavon retook the lead through an Aled Thomas penalty after referee Bessant reversed a decision following Swansea dissent.
Winger Llien Morgan rose high to take a Ley box kick and, although the visitors regained possession, they promptly knocked on, gifting the All Whites an attacking scrum.
Centre Chay Smith was yellow carded for a late tackle on Abraham, who chipped through into space. James Davies opted to kick at goal into a strong wind, but the decision paid off as his successful penalty goal saw the Whites retake the lead.
Thomas made a barnstorming run down the wing with two Wizards tacklers unable to bring him down, but Dodd lost the ball forward over the 22. From the scrum Sloane was yellow carded for a persistent infringement at the set piece.
Aberavon clinched a bonus point when a powerful drive by the pack saw Coles get the ball out wide for winger Matthew Jenkins to score. Aled Thomas missed the conversion.
Jay Williams made a half break through a ruck and the visitors were penalise for offside in midfield. James Davies found touch on the 22 but the Whites pack were held up at the maul.
A poor throw by replacement hooker Llew Phillips-Taylor was taken at the back of the lineout by the home side and substitute flanker Lee Purnell was penalised for a dangerous tackle.
In the dying seconds McNally was shown a second yellow card and the Wizards sealed victory when Matthew Jenkins chased down a chip to the corner for a well taken try. Aled Thomas converted.
Full-time:- Swansea 20-30 Aberavon
Tries:- Ben Ley (37), Charlie Davies (51)
Cons:- James Davies (38, 52)
Pens:- James Davies (26, 67)
Yellow cards:- Leon McNally (27, 80+4), Tom Sloane (71)
Red cards:- Leon McNally (80+4)
Tries:- Stef Andrews (12, 32), Ashton Evans (18), Matthew Jenkins (74, 80+5)
Cons:- Aled Thomas (80+6)
Pens:- Aled Thomas (56)
Yellow cards:- Chay Smith (67)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Light rain, 13C
Referee:- Jason Bessant
Man of the match:- Lloyd Evans
15 Gareth Rees
14 Llien Morgan
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 J Rhys Williams
11 Kian Abraham (rep: Tom Northy 79)
10 James Davies (rep: Gwyn Parks 78)
9 Ben Ley (rep: Connor Tantum 53)
1 Tom Sloane
2 Owen Thomas
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Alun Dew 53)
4 Matt Dodd (rep: Ben Gregory 76)
5 Jay Williams ©
6 Leon McNally
7 Callum Bowden
8 Charlie Davies (rep: Will Barraclough 71)
16 Aneurin James
17 Tom Northy
18 Alun Dew
19 Ben Gregory
20 Will Barraclough
21 Connor Tantum
22 Gwyn Parks
23 Matt Billett
15 Joe Gage (rep: Chris Banfield 31)
14 Matthew Jenkins
13 Chay Smith
12 Will Price
11 Stef Andrews
10 Aled Thomas (rep: Joe Thomas (80+6)
9 Rhodri Coles (rep: Rhodri Lewis 80+6)
1 Rowan Jenkins
2 Ieuan Davies (rep: Llew Phillips-Taylor 79)
3 Nicky Thomas (rep: Geraint James 53)
4 Shay Smallman
5 Sam Williams (rep: Sam Pailor 63)
6 Ashton Evans (rep: Lee Purnell 63)
7 Lloyd Evans
8 Andrew Waite
16 Rhodri Lewis
17 Joe Thomas
18 Chris Banfield
19 Llew Phillips-Taylor
20 Lee Purnell
21 Sam Pailor
22 Jordan Walters
23 Geraint James