ABERAVON 20 LLANDOVERY 19
(by Howard Evans)

Yes, the scoreline sums up it up. It was that close - one point in it as even to the final minute of the match Llandovery's 14-men looked capable of snatching victory at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

Aberavon clung on and though a draw might have been a fairer result, it was a precious win after two losses.

A weakened-looking Aberavon side with at least four forwards playing out of place was struck early in the game when Rowan Jenkins left the field to be replaced by Jordan Walters, but it was no good anyone crying that he was a teenager as Llandovery also had several 18-year-olds in their ranks.

What was needed badly was an old head in the home ranks and just at the moment that is what the Wizards are short of.

Yet, they started off well enough with strong attacks ending with a James Garland penalty and then centre Rheon James, after one splendid hit in defence, thrust his way forward to the line and somehow scored a try that Garland turned into a seven-pointer.

Llandovery teenager Tomi Lewis replied with a try that Jack Maynard converted and after Garland was correctly yellow-carded, Lewis scored again and Maynard's conversion gave the Drovers a 14-10 lead after 33 minutes.

Lewis however was part of the reason for the Llandovery loss as twice he held on for glory when others were better placed and his defence was poor. Indeed Llandovery could put the loss down to absolutely dreadful passing among the backs when the pack were on top. 

More early Aberavon pressure marked the start of the second half and a Garland penalty followed at 13-14.

Then, after a dreadful period of scrummage problems, referee Robert Price yellow carded the former Bonymaen prop Greg Cunniffe and as he was leaving it appears from some distance that abuse at Mr Price saw the official turn the card to a red one.

Four minutes later more bad passing by the visitors saw Garland take an interception in his own half and though he could not make the line he found Joe Thomas to his left and the centre turned on the gas and had great vision to cut around to the posts.

It was to prove a vital move by Thomas as Garland goaled for a 20-14 lead.

Llandovery's seven men then began to take the Aberavon eight apart and after poor decision-making by the home backs the Drovers moved it wide to right wing Lee Williams.

Luckily, Lee had no choice but to put the ball down by the corner flag and replacement Kristian Jones's conversion attempt, though good, just failed.

Much work is needed on the forwards this week and there could be up to six changes for the trip to Llanelli, though once again Lee Purnell was outstanding and gave 100% of effort all over the park. Rhys Forse was also splendid on the tight-head and young Walters on the loose head tried hard.




Score:
Aberavon 20 - 19 Llandovery

Aberavon Team:
Jonathan Phillips (rep Liam Popham 77 min); Shaun Pearce, Joe Thomas, Rheon James, Chris Banfield; James Garland (c), David Pritchard (rep Jacob Flynn 62 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Jordan Walters 34 min), Ieuan Davies, Rhys Forse, Ben Thomas, Ben Davies (rep Ben Jones 53 min), James Ratti (blood rep Rob Dudley-Jones 58-68 min), Craig Price, Lee Purnell (rep Rob Dudley-Jones 72 min).

Replacements not used: Stuart Nicholas, Mike Burgess and Marc Breeze.
Joe Thomas, Rowan Jenkins, James Ratti and Jordan Walters appeared from the Ospreys; Chris Banfield appeared from Carmarthen Quins RFC; Stuart Nicholas appeared from Waunarlwydd RFC

Aberavon Scorers:
T - Rheon James, Joe Thomas
C - James Garland (2)
PG - James Garland (2)

Llandovery Scorers:
T - Tomi Lewis (2), Lee Williams
C - Jack Maynard (2)

Referee:
Robert Price

Man Of The Match:
1 - Rheon James
2 - Jonathan Phillips
3 - Lee Purnell

Time Line:
04 min: Aberavon - PG - James Garland (3 - 0)
14 min: Aberavon - T - Rheon James & C - James Garland (10 - 0)
17 min: Llandovery - T - Tomi Lewis & C - Jack Maynard (10 - 7)
27 min: Aberavon - Yellow Card - James Garland
32 min: Llandovery - T - Tomi Lewis & C - Jack Maynard (10 - 14) 
37 min: Aberavon - End Yellow Card - James Garland
40+2 min: Half Time
42 min: Aberavon - PG - James Garland (13 - 14)
50 min: Red Card - Llandovery - Greg Cunniffe
54 min: Aberavon - T - Joe Thomas & C - James Garland (20 - 14)
79 min: Llandovery - T - Lee Williams (20 - 19)
80+2 min: Full Time