ABERAVON 16 MERTHYR 7
(by Howard Evans)
Aberavon completed the league double over Merthyr with a superb display that saw several of the side play ‘the game of their young lives’.
It was a performance that totally silenced and amazed many home supporters and not least this writer, in the way a side could perform without at least five first-choice players, seemingly without a goalkicker of note; with a centre at outside half and later with a scrum half on the wing.
Scrum half Rhodri Cole emerged as the chief hero with a display of attack, defence and left-footed goalkicking so good that he was man of the match.
In a team that tackled so superbly it was impossible and wrong to pick anyone else out except acting captain Joe Tomalin-Reeves who did not play the game of his life simply because that is how he plays every game – outstanding and with a huge heart.
I rushed home 40 miles in the dark to play the second half over again and in particular noticed how much unseen work was put in by two fine young men – Jac Morgan and Joe Gage.
Head coach Jason Hyatt said: “I was not only proud, but it showed me why I love Aberavon and because it was PAYBACK time to all our supporters and families who had to go to Pontypridd last week. We badly wanted to repay them, and I think we did.”
One thing that was noticeable watching the video later was a seeming lack of atmosphere, but for those who were not at the ground I can assure you that there certainly was atmosphere.
For those watching around the ground could sense the growing belief of the players as confidence and adrenaline grew and grew and players wanted the ball.
Somehow Merthyr did not look confident and were made to do so as first Craig Locke (red) and then the tireless Phil Rees (yellow) went off – the latter to a wrong decision for sure.
However, anyone thinking that Merthyr coach Dale McIntosh is not gracious in defeat is wrong as I have always rated him tops as a player, coach and motivator and always a top man in his remarks. After all, he played one game for Aberavon!!
Returning to the game, there must have been an extra 20 minutes added on in the halves and after a rare Matthew Jarvis miss, the astonishing Cole put over a beauty for a 3-0 half-time lead.
Richard Powell caught Aberavon napping for a try that Jarvis converted from the touchline, but Aberavon were not done.
Cole’s long pass put Jordan Walters away and he sped over in fine fashion for Cole to convert.
Somehow Merthyr ignored danger man Jay Baker and Cole hit over two penalties to set up a grandstand finish.
As the late Bill McLaren might have said: “They will be pleased down in Pontypridd tonight!”
Aberavon 16 – 7 Merthyr
Chris Banfield; Shaun Pearce, Will Price, Rheon James, Stef Andrews (rep Iwan Temblett 44 min); Joe Gage, Rhodri Cole; Jordan Walters, Ieuan Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 69 min), Geraint James (rep Rhys Henry 55 min), Rhodri Hughes, Sam Williams, Lee Purnell (rep Andrew Waite 53 min), Jac Morgan, Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt).
Replacements Not Used:
Gwyn Parks, Iwan Shenton, Luke Joseph, Rhys Forse.
Jordan Walters, Iwan Shenton & Rhys Henry appeared from the Ospreys; Cameron Lewis appeared from the Blues.
T – Jordan Walters
C – Rhodri Cole
PG – Rhodri Cole (3)
T – Richard Powell
C – Matthew Jarvis
Man Of The Match:
1 – Rhodri Cole
2 – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
3 – Jordan Walters
40+13 min: Aberavon – PG – Rhodri Cole (3 – 0)
40+14 min: Half Time
47 min: Merthyr – T – Richard Powell & C – Matthew Jarvis (3 – 7)
61 min: Merthyr – Red Card – Craig Locke
61 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
68 min: Aberavon – T – Jordan Walters & C – Rhodri Cole (10 – 7)
73 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
79 min: Merthyr – Yellow Card – Phil Rees
80 min: Aberavon – PG – Rhodri Cole (13 – 7)
80+6 min: Aberavon – PG – Rhodri Cole (16 – 7)
80+9 min: Merthyr – End Yellow Card – Phil Rees
80+10 min: Full Time