ABERAVON 40 BRIDGEND 15
(by Howard Evans)

This was a perfect start for a young Aberavon side that was vastly changed from last season and who ran in six tries in a lively match on a pitch in top-class condition.

It was a job well done and in flanker Lee Purnell the Wizards had easily the most outstanding performer on the field. Though he received a late yellow card, Lee tackled and ran superbly for 70 minutes, being here, there and everywhere.

There rarely is a game where all the players succeed in Rugby Union, but on this occasion one is hard-pushed to criticise anyone and it was especially good to see the work-rate of young men such as Luke Davies, Rhys Henry and Shaun Pearce.

Coach Jason Hyatt gave the squad a long talk at the end of the match and later said: "We had 12 changes from last season's final against Merthyr with many young players coming through.

"There were some new faces and we asked for bags of energy and got it fully. This performance has now created expectations for our supporters and I was particularly pleased at the way we performed in the line-out, both on Bridgend's ball and on our own."

It was not a good start however as a Bridgend forward drive saw lock Jack Pope score but Joe Scrivens had no luck with his kicking and twice hit the posts with good attempts.

Aberavon soon hit back after nine minutes as their pack gained a try by Luke Davies with James Garland goaling from the touchline.

Further quick passing saw full back Liam Popham cross well out, though Scrivens replied with a penalty at 12-8.

Before the break a superb training-ground move saw Pearce go under the bar and Garland's conversion took it to 19-8 at half-time.

After 12 minutes of the second half clever play by Will Price unleashed the pace of Pearce and Garland converted again.

Bridgend hit back as Aberavon took their foot off and within 30 seconds after appearing as a replacement hooker Iestyn Merriman plunged over and Scrivens converted.

It was now 26-15 and the next score was vital but Jacob Flynn kept going at pace at the heels of a good pack and skipper James Garland controlled the play. The pack shoved hard and referee Gareth John awarded a penalty try.

Almost on time replacement Steff Williams took an interception deep in his own half and outstripped all challengers for a sixth try that he also converted.

Scorers.
Aberavon - Tries: S Pearce 2, L Davies, L Popham, Steff Williams, penalty try.
Cons: J Garland 3, Steff Williams.
Bridgend - Tries: J Pope, I Merriman.  Con: J Scrivens. Pen: J Scrivens.




Score:
Aberavon 40 - 15 Bridgend

Aberavon Starting XV:
Liam Popham (rep Jonathan Phillips 77 min); Shaun Pearce, Will Price (rep Stuart Nicholas 80+1 min), Rheon James, David Evans; James Garland (c) (rep Steffen Williams 77 min), Jacob Flynn; Mike Burgess (rep Rhys Forse 56 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 56 min), Rhys Henry (rep Jon Thomas 61 min), Ben Jones, Sam Williams (rep Ben Davies 60 min), Lee Purnell, Luke Joseph, Craig Price (rep Ben Thomas 56 min).

Aberavon Scorers:
T - Shaun Pearce (2), Luke Davies, Liam Popham, Penalty Try (7 points), Steffen Williams
C - James Garland (3), Steffen Williams

Bridgend Scorers:
T - Jack Pope, Iestyn Merriman
C - Joseph Scrivens
PG - Joseph Scrivens

Referee:
Gareth John

Man Of The Match:
1 - Luke Davies
2 - Jacob Flynn
3 - Luke Joseph

Time Line:
04 min: Bridgend - T - Jack Pope (0 - 5)
08 min: Bridgend - Yellow Card - Nathan Edwards
09 min: Aberavon - T - Luke Davies & C - James Garland (7 - 5)
13 min: Aberavon - T - Liam Popham (12 - 5)
15 min: Bridgend - PG - Joseph Scrivens (12 - 8)
20 min: Bridgend - End Yellow Card - Nathan Edwards
34 min: Aberavon - T - Shaun Pearce & C - James Garland (19 - 8)
40+2 min: Half Time
52 min: Aberavon - T - Shaun Pearce & C - James Garland (26 - 8)
63 min: Aberavon - Yellow Card - Lee Purnell
64 min: Bridgend - T - Iestyn Merriman & C - Joseph Scrivens (26 - 15)
76 min: Aberavon - End Yellow Card - Lee Purnell
77 min: Aberavon - T & C - Penalty Try (33 - 15)
79 min: Aberavon - T - Steffen Williams & C - Steffen Williams (40 - 15)
80+6 min: Full Time