(by Marina Jones)

On a day where it seemed all roads led to Cardiff, the Wizards headed West for a lunchtime match-up against Llandovery at Church Bank. The Drovers were sitting pretty in 3rd spot in the Premiership West but we were buoyed by our positive performance the previous Friday against RGC, and welcomed back a number of players from regional duties.

Coach Jason Hyatt had opted for a Gatland-esque 10, 12 axis with Steffen Williams taking the 10 shirt and Garland moving out to inside centre. Williams also took over goalkicking duties and slotted an early penalty to give the Wizards the lead.

The first half was an attritional affair, with scrums aplenty, and both sides struggled to get any momentum. The Drovers’ defence has been the best in the Premiership West this season and we struggled to break it down and work any space out wide. However, our defence was more than a match and we limited Llandovery to a penalty and drop goal in the first 40 minutes. What was pleasing was the good work being done in the boiler room by the returning Alex Jeffries and youngster Jordan Walters. Jordan is learning every week in the Wizards’ scrum and gave his opposite number a tough afternoon. He looks a real prospect in his first season of semi-professional rugby.

With the score just 6-3 to the Drovers at half-time, the Wizards had reason to be optimistic. Llandovery’s ever reliably outside half Jack Maynard added another drop goal in the 61st minute but it was not until the last 10 minutes of the game that either try line was breached. Unfortunately, it was Llandovery that got the decisive score. Replacement prop Scott Jenkins rumbled over following a period of pressure inside the Aberavon ‘22.

We were able to respond with a similar effort of our own from our own replacement prop Rhys Forse, to move into losing bonus point territory in injury time, the score being 14-8. Disappointedly, we were unable to hold onto that point, losing a lineout deep in the 85th minute and allowing replacement Dafydd Pritchard to race in for the score. Maynard converted and took the final score to Llandovery 21-8 Aberavon.

The Merlin Man of the Match was awarded to MIke Wilson who, once again, spread panic in the defence with every touch of the ball, and a special mention should also go to fellow winger Shaun Pearce who got through a huge amount of defensive work and made two superb try-saving tackles. It is encouraging to see him develop this side of his game.

We return to the Talbot Athletic Ground next Sunday for the visit of Llanelli. With only two games left until East and West merge back together, we really need to gather some momentum. This is our last home game of 2017 so we hope to see you all there.

Llandovery 21 - 8 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Chris Banfield; Shaun Pearce, Will Price, James Garland (capt), Mike Wilson (rep Llyr Davies 86 min); Steffen Williams (rep Liam Popham 68 min), Jacob Flynn; Jordan Walters (rep Rhys Forse 65 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 61 min), Alex Jeffries (rep Jon Thomas 86 min), Ben Davies, Ben Jones (rep Jacob Blackmore 59 min), Craig Price (rep Lee Purnell half-time), Luke Joseph, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (rep Rob Dudley-Jones 59 min).

Jordan Walters & Alex Jeffries appeared from the Ospreys; Mike Wilson appeared from Swansea Uplands RFC; Jacob Blackmore appeared from Waunarlwydd RFC.

Aberavon Scorers:
T - Rhys Forse
PG - Steffen Williams

Llandovery Scorers:
T - Scott Jenkins, Dafydd Pritchard
C - Jack Maynard
PG - Jack Maynard
DG - Jack Maynard (2)

Simon Rees

Man Of The Match:
1 - Mike Wilson
2 - Shaun Pearce
3 - Alex Jeffries

Time Line:
02 min: Aberavon - PG - Steffen Williams (0 - 3)
29 min: Llandovery - PG - Jack Maynard (3 - 3)
38 min: Llandovery - DG - Jack Maynard (6 - 3)
Half Time
61 min: Llandovery - DG - Jack Maynard (9 - 3)
69 min: Llandovery - T - Scott Jenkins (14 - 3)
80+1 min: Aberavon - T - Rhys Forse (14 - 8)
80+5 min: Llandovery - T - Dafydd Pritchard & C - Jack Maynard (21 - 8)
Full Time