Preview: Llanelli v Aberavon
Posted by Gareth Gange on 23/02/2018
Since the Premiership combined, Llanelli - like Aberavon - have lost all four of their games. They have lost at Ebbw Vale (15 - 43), Pontypridd (14 - 59), at home to Carmarthen Quins (14 - 30), and, last weekend, away to Newport (20 - 29).
In the first half of the season, Llanelli finished fifth in the Premiership West after winning six of their fourteen games. They won their opening game of the season against Carmarthen (24 - 8), gaining a bonus point in the process before losing three on a trot as they went down to RGC 1404 (22 - 25), Llandovery (5 - 19) and Bridgend (18 - 27). They picked up two bonus points in their defeat to RGC. The Parc y Scarlets side then won their next three games as they saw off Neath (40 - 17), Aberavon (36 - 22) and Swansea (33 - 27) with all three being bonus point wins. After the October break Llanelli lost three games on the trot with them losing to Carmarthen (16 - 37), RGC 1404 (31 - 48) and Llandovery (8 - 29). Once again, Llanelli picked up a bonus point in their defeat to RGC. Two wins followed in the second half of November as Llanelli saw off Bridgend (23 - 18) and Neath (15 - 13). In December, the Parc y Scarlets side lost at Aberavon (26 - 40) and at Swansea (7 - 38), but did pick up a try bonus point at the Wizards.
Looking at results since the Premiership merged, in "attack", Llanelli have scored 15.8 points on average per game (ranked 13th) and 1.8 tries (ranked 14th). In "defence" they have conceded 40.3 points on average per game (ranked 15th) and 5.3 tries (ranked 15th). Aberavon have scored 10.8 points per game (ranked 16th) and 1.5 tries (ranked 15th), and conceded 21.5 points (ranked 10th) and 1.8 tries (ranked joint 2nd).
Head-to-head, Aberavon and Llanelli have met each other 37 times (excluding playoff games) in the Welsh National League with Llanelli leading the series 22 - 13 and 2 games drawn. At Llanelli, the homeside lead 16 - 2, and won 36 - 22 at the ground when the sides met in the first half of the season.
Looking back to the 2003-04 season, when Aberavon met Llanelli at Stradey Park, Llanelli outside half Ceiron Thomas and his opposite number Jamie Davies traded penalties before Daran Griffiths scored a try at the end of the opening quarter. Davies converted and kicked another penalty after half hour to give the Wizards a 13 - 3 lead. However, a try by wing Daniel Rogers and conversion by Thomas saw Aberavon's lead reduce to just 3 points at the interval. The homeside took the lead early in the second half when full back Lee Byrne released centre Richard Davies for an unconverted try. A third Davies penalty helped the Wizards retake the lead before Richard Lewis scored a try in the corner. Davies added the extras to give the Wizards a 23 - 15 lead after 64 minutes. Rogers scored his second try of the game soon after with Thomas converting to reduce Aberavon's lead to just one point. Ricky Price scored the Wizards third try of the game in the last ten minutes of the game. Thomas and Davies traded further penalties late on with the Aberavon holding out to win 31 - 25 despite playing the last ten minutes down to 14 players.
The Wizards team that day was: Richard Lewis; Daran Griffiths, Aled James, Gareth Jones (rep Darren Ryan), Ricky Price; Jamie Davies, Dan Hawkins; Dinlle Francis (rep Mike Harris), James Jones (rep Jon Owen), Paul Breeze, Steve Rees (rep Dafydd Owen), Chris Gittins, Jamie Summers (rep Matthew Powell), Richard Morris, Steffan Edwards.
The referee for Sunday's game will be Adam Jones, aided by Dai Cambourne and Michael Bulpitt.