By: Paul Hopkins
An outstanding defensive performance for the All Whites was enough to claim victory over Aberavon in a titanic battle at St Helen’s.
Aberavon struck first when centre Chay Smith made a break and was supported by flanker Joe Tomalin-Reeves and winger Stef Andrews, before centre Will Price stretched over to score a well taken try. Fly half James Garland’s conversion fell short of the posts.
A clever high box kick by scrum half Matthew Aubrey penned the visitors back inside their own twenty-two and Tomalin-Reeves spilled lineout ball forward, but Swansea were unable to capitalise.
Full back Phil Jones made a sprightly break for the home side and the Wizards’ defence was penalised for offside in midfield. Fly half James Davies kicked the three pointer.
A poor restart by Garland failed to reach the 10 metre line and centre Tom Williams raced forward, but he was turned over and the visitors were able to clear.
Tomalin-Reeves dived on a loose ball on the floor to set up another Wizards attack, but hooker Cameron Lewis was unable to take the pass out wide and the move broke down.
A well weighted chip and chase by Jones almost resulted in a try, but the bounce evaded him and Aberavon were able to mount an attack of their own, though it didn’t amount to much and Lewis conceded a penalty with a high tackle.
Prop Jordan Pritchard ripped possession inside the Aberavon half and found lock Jay Williams in support. The Whites captain threw a clever short pass to Aubrey, but the supporting centre Gareth Rees was stopped by a bone crunching tackle a few metres short of the try line.
Lock Rhodri Hughes superbly nipped in to steal a lineout but his joy was short lived as he was bundled into touch on his own twenty-two. This time lock Matt Dodd made no mistake by collecting the lineout, but a short pass by James Davies saw the ball become trapped in a ruck.
Swansea continued to attack and Tom Williams charged up to the twenty-two but James Davies’ grubber kick was well defended by Aberavon.
Foul play saw Aubrey chip to the corner, and although the Aberavon pack initially drove the Whites backwards in the maul, they managed to recycle possession and a long pass out wide to winger Ryan Griffiths almost resulted in a try, but he was stopped in his tracks by an Andrews high tackle.
Following a long consultation with between the referee and touch judge Andrews was yellow carded and a penalty try awarded.
Number eight Scott Jenkins made good yards for the home side, but James Davies’ touch finder sailed out on the full over the whitewash. A superb run by full back Joe Gage took the Wizards up to the Swansea twenty-two but he tried one trick too many and lost possession to signal half time.
Half-time:- Swansea 10 Aberavon 5
A superb break by Tomalin-Reeves sent the pacey winger Lesley Klim racing through the middle. He was brought on just short of the line and Gage chipped ahead for number eight Ashton Evans to score in the corner. Garland missed the conversion.
Swansea looked to hit back immediately and were soon inside the Aberavon twenty-two, but a huge clearance kick by Garland gave the visitors important territory.
A superb high kick by James Davies was dropped by Jones and Klim was able to race upfield. The Whites gave away a penalty, but made amends by stealing a lineout against the head.
The Swansea front eight were penalised for a scrummaging offence and with the game so tight, replacement fly half Aled Thomas opted to kick at goal, but pulled his effort wide of the posts.
Scrum half Rhodri Cole was caught at the base of the ruck, gifting the Whites an attacking scrum inside the visitors’ half. A high box kick by Aubrey was well taken by Klim, but Thomas kicked possession away.
Dodd collected good lineout ball for the home side and the Wizards’ defence failed to let Tom Williams back on his feet after the tackle so James Davies found touch on the twenty-two with a penalty.
A poor pass by Aubrey gave Aberavon an opportunity to clear into the Swansea half, but a poor long pass evaded Klim into touch.
After a loose period of play that could have resulted in a Griffiths try, Gage looked to sprint for glory, but he was tackled on half way.
A superb take by Jones gave Swansea an attacking chance inside injury time and an offside offence gave the home side a penalty which James Davies chipped to the corner.
Jay Williams took the lineout and replacement prop Jordan Walters gave away a crucial penalty, which James Davies converted to send the home crowd into raptures.
A poor scrum by the home side gave Aberavon one last chance and Thomas chose to kick to the corner. With seconds left Ashton Evans took the lineout, but a mistake by the Whites gave Aberavon a five metre attacking scrum.
After a long period of Aberavon possession inside the Swansea twenty-two the home defence remained firm as they were able to celebrate a hard earned victory.
Full-time:- Swansea 13 Aberavon 10
Tries:- Penalty try (36)
Pens:- James Davies (14, 80+3)
Tries:- Will Price (7), Ashton Evans (43)
Yellow cards:- Stef Andrews (36)
Venue:- St Helen’s
Weather:- Light cloud, 6C
Man of the match:- Matt Dodd
15 Phil Jones
14 Ryan Griffiths
13 Tom Williams
12 Gareth Rees (rep: Rhys Williams 68)
11 Ben Cambriani
10 James Davies
9 Matthew Aubrey (rep: Chris Morgans 73)
1 Rhys Davies (rep: Tom Sloane 53)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Josh Moore 41)
3 Jordan Pritchard (rep: Alun Dew 32)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jay Williams ©
6 Charlie Davies (rep: Ben Asprea 73)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Scott Jenkins (rep: Jon Fox 53)
16 Josh Moore
17 Tom Sloane
18 Alun Dew
19 Jon Fox
20 Ben Asprea
21 Chris Morgans
22 Keiran Charles
23 Rhys Williams
15 Joe Gage
14 Lesley Klim
13 Chay Smith
12 Will Price (rep: Rheon James 74)
11 Stef Andrews
10 James Garland (rep: Aled Thomas 41)
9 Rhodri Cole
1 Rowan Jenkins (rep: Jordan Walters 71)
2 Cameron Lewis
3 Chris Davies (rep: Geraint James 61)
4 Shay Smallman
5 Rhodri Hughes (rep: Lloyd Evans 53)
6 Lee Purnell (rep: Sam Williams 53)
7 Joe Tomalin-Reeves ©
8 Ashton Evans
16 Aled Thomas
17 Garin Payne
18 Lloyd Evans
19 Liam Wiggins
20 Jordan Walters
21 Sam Williams
22 Geraint James
23 Rheon James