The second half of the season begins this weekend as both West and East Premiership leagues have now come back together. The first game will see Aberavon (7th - 5 points) travel on Saturday to Church Bank to take on Llandovery (2nd - 7 points). The match kicks off at 5:15pm with the match being televised live on S4C.
During the first half of the season, Llandovery won ten of their fourteen games in the Premiership West. They won their opening four games as they saw off RGC (31 - 10), Bridgend (31 - 13), Llanelli (19 - 5) and Neath (29 - 15). They then narrowly lost 19 - 20 against Aberavon before getting back to winning ways by beating Swansea 32 - 9. In October, Llandovery lost back to back games as they went down against Carmarthen Quins (12 - 26) and RGC (7 - 24). In November, the Drovers completed the double over Bridgend (31 - 10) and Llanelli (29 - 8), before losing to Neath (5 - 19). Since then, Llandovery have beaten Aberavon (21 - 8), Swansea (18 - 14) and Carmarthen (29 - 14). At Church Bank, Llandovery have won seven from seven.
Looking at the Premiership West, in "attack" this season, Llandovery scored 22.4 points on average per game (ranked 4th) and 3.0 tries (ranked 4th). In "defence" they conceded 13.9 points on average per game (ranked top) and 1.5 tries (ranked top). Aberavon scored 24.6 points per game (ranked 2nd) and 3.5 tries (ranked top), and conceded 24.0 points (ranked 5th) and 2.6 tries (ranked 3rd).
Head-to-head, Aberavon and Llandovery have met each other 44 times in the Welsh National League (excluding play-off games) with Aberavon leading series 29 - 13 with 2 games drawn. At Church Bank, the Wizards lead 12 - 9 with 1 game drawn, with the Drovers winning 21 - 8 at the ground when the sides met in the first half of the season at the ground.
Looking back to when the sides met at the ground in October 2010, things weren't looking good for Aberavon at the interval after they found themselves losing 6 - 13 and facing the prospect of playing a second half into the strong wind. The Wizards started well and were ahead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two penalties by Matthew Jarvis. Former Wizard Cerith Rees kicked two penalties of his own for Llandovery to tie the game before a Nio Aiono try, converted by Rees, gave the Drovers a seven point lead at the interval.
However, the Wizards came out after the interval and immediately turned up the tempo. The young midfield trio of Jarvis, Ashley Beck and Ben John combined well, and a policy of running the ball at every opportunity into the wind began to pay off. In a seven minute spell, the Wizards scored three tries when first David Pritchard, then Neil White, then Ricky Thomas all touched down. Jarvis converted all three to give Aberavon a fourteen point lead. Rees kicked a penalty for the homeside on the hour mark, but the Wizards had the last score when Richard Carter scored a try. Jarvis added the extras to make the final score 34 - 16 to Aberavon.
The Wizards team that day was: Ricky Thomas; Richard Carter, Ben John, Ashley Beck, Richard Thomas; Matthew Jarvis (rep Jamie Davies), David Pritchard (rep Andrew Jenkins); Neil White (rep Lloyd Howell), Christian Richards (rep Gareth Harvey), Anthony Edwards (rep Craig Cross), Richard Morris (rep Nathan Strong), Gavin Ronan (rep Sam Williams), James King, Tom Smith, Chris Davies (capt).
The referee for Saturday's game will be Aled Evans, aided by Justin Williams, Mike Bulpitt, Eric Griffiths and TMO Tim Hayes.