Llanelli 13 Aberavon 41
(by Marina Jones)
The Wizards travelled to Parc y Scarlets on a bitterly cold afternoon; both teams were in search of their first victory in the second phase of the season. There were two changes to the starting team from last week’s defeat at Bargoed; Ben Jones returned from illness to the second row and Penclawdd prop Chris Davies made his first start for the club at tight-head prop.
Llanelli took an early lead when outside-half Billy McBride slotted a penalty. Soon after, the Wizards had an chance to score with a loose ball inside the Llanelli 22 but hooker Ieuan Davies couldn’t gather the ball. The travelling supporters, however, didn’t have to wait long for the opening score. A move that included good work from Jay Baker and Joe Tomalin-Reeves resulted in score for Joe Thomas. Garland converted giving the Wizards an early lead.
Llanelli struck back in the 27th minute with a try from full-back Kalum Evans. McBride was unable to convert and so Aberavon maintained a slim lead.
The Wizards created a number of chances but were unable to covert; Jay Baker made several excellent breaks but, frustratingly, the final passes did not go to hand; probably not helped by the freezing conditions! In the 34th minute, he made another of his trademark breaks and this time scrum-half Pritchard gathered spectacularly with one hand and beat the Llanelli defence in a foot race to the line. Garland converted to take the score to 8-14.
On the stroke of half-time, the Wizards were awarded a kickable penalty but instead elected to go to the corner, and were penalised from the resulting lineout.
The half-time score was Llanelli 8, Aberavon 14.
Whatever was said in the changing rooms at half-time certainly seemed to have an effect! The pack came out firing and within two minutes scored an excellent try from a maul in which it seemed every forward was involved. It appeared that Joe Tomalin-Reeves was the man to ground the ball. Garland missed a tricky touchline conversion and the score was 8-19. Just three minutes later, the Llanelli pack replied in kind, scoring an almost identical try in the opposite corner. The conversion was missed but it was still a one score game at this point.
James Garland missed a penalty in the 48th minute but just five minutes later Aberavon scored again, this time through flying winger Shaun Pearce. A speculative chip from Lee Purnell bounced kindly and was scooped up by Pearce, who scored in the corner to secure a try bonus point. Garland missed another touchline conversion but now the Wizards’ tails were up and this seemed to be a turning point in the match.
As the replacements for both sides started entering the fray, the Aberavon pack started to take control and when Llanelli’s centre got yellow carded in the 68th minute, the Wizards started to turn the screw. Ospreys U18 scrum-half Iwan Temblett, on as a replacement for Pritchard, came off the back of a scrum five and dived for the line, but was penalised for a double movement. Not to be deterred, just two minutes later, he was on the shoulder of Pearce as he made a touchline break and took the pass to score. Another difficult conversion was missed but the score was now 13-29 with just five minutes to play.
Following a serious looking injury to a Llanelli player, the match was stopped for 8 minutes, during which time Aberavon made multiple substitutions and Jay Baker took the opportunity to have a quick sit down on the bench, causing some confusion amongst the supporters who thought he had been substituted. When play resumed, the Wizards scored again, this time through versatile back rower Luke Joseph, today playing at number 8. He peeled off the back of a dominant five metre scrum and ducked and weaved over the line. The conversion was once again missed but just moments later the Wizards were on the attack again. Jay Baker made a break, Will Price chipped over the defence and Temblett popped up again to gather the ball and score. Garland converted and the much needed victory was secured.
The final score was Llanelli 13, Aberavon 41.
Joe Tomalin-Reeves was awarded the Merlin Man of the Match, with Chris Banfield coming second and Shaun Pearce third. There was also an excellent full debut from Chris Davies who played the full 80 minutes at tight-head and Jay Baker whose side steps were something to behold!
This performance will no doubt give the Wizards confidence ahead of a tough home game against high flying RGC in two weeks time.
Llanelli 13 - 41 Aberavon
Chris Banfield (rep Steffen Williams 77 min); Jay Baker, Joe Thomas (rep Rheon James 63 min), Will Price, Shaun Pearce; James Garland (capt), David Pritchard (rep Iwan Temblett 55 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Mike Burgess 77 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Marc Breeze 77 min), Chris Davies, Ben Thomas, Ben Jones (rep Jacob Blackmore 79 min), Lee Purnell (rep Rob Dudley-Jones 55 min), Luke Joseph, Joe Tomalin-Reeves.
Replacement not used: Jon Thomas
Jay Baker, Joe Thomas & Rowan Jenkins appeared from the Ospreys; Chris Davies appeared from Penclawdd RFC; Iwan Temblett appeared from Trebanos RFC; Jacob Blackmore appeared from Waunarlwydd RFC.
T - Iwan Temblett(2), Joe Thomas, David Pritchard, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Shaun Pearce, Luke Joseph
C - James Garland (3)
T - Kalum Evans, Rhys Thomas
PG - Billy McBryde
Man Of The Match:
1 - Joe Tomalin-Reeves
2 - Chris Banfield
3 - Shaun Pearce
03 min: Llanelli - PG - Billy McBryde (3 - 0)
11 min: Aberavon - T - Joe Thomas & C - James Garland (3 - 7)
27 min: Llanelli - T - Kalum Evans (8 - 7)
34 min: Aberavon - T - David Pritchard & C - James Garland (8 - 14)
40+3 min: Half Time
42 min: Aberavon - T - Joe Tomalin-Reeves (8 - 19)
45 min: Llanelli - T - Rhys Thomas (13 - 19)
53 min: Aberavon - T - Shaun Pearce (13 - 24)
68 min: Llanelli - Yellow Card - Ben Atkins
72 min: Aberavon - T - Iwan Temblett (13 - 29)
80+4 min: Aberavon - T - Luke Joseph (13 - 34)
80+6 min: Llanelli - End Yellow Card - Ben Atkins
80+8 min: Aberavon - T - Iwan Temblett & C - James Garland (13 - 41)
80+9 min: Full Time