Carmarthen Quins 7 – 9 Aberavon
Principality Premiership, 23rd February 2019.
(By Paul Williams)
Four league points in the soaking drizzle of Carmarthen Park were a welcome haul at a ground which has always represented something of a banana-skin, with narrow margins of victory often being the norm.
Head coach Jason Hyatt summed it up perfectly. “I thought we had forgotten how to win ‘ugly’ as we normally play such an expansive game, but today the conditions dictated the way we had to play.
“Our pack, and the front row in particular, did a wonderful job with young Rhys Forse outstanding for us, well aided by Ieuan Davies and Geraint James.
“We held onto the ball and showed a lot of patience and discipline and really adapted to the conditions.”
Two penalties from Aberavon skipper James Garland were the only scores of an opening half that saw plenty of endeavour but few clear-cut scoring opportunities, although the work of the Aberavon pack and half-backs Garland and Rhodri Cole, along with a solid defensive back-line, saw the Wizards enjoy a territorial advantage.
A setback came almost on the stroke of half-time, however, when Sam Williams was adjudged to have late-tackled Quins scrum-half Gareth Rees. Williams had sought to charge down Rees’ clearance, and in fairness attempted to avoid the collision and in fact had his back to Rees when the impact took place, but it was a split-second decision for referee Stephen Allsop and one for which he should receive no criticism. However, it meant that the Wizards were forced to contest the first ten minutes of the second half minus an influential forward, and it came as no surprise when the home side turned the screw with a series of forward drives that ended with experienced flanker Ed Siggery touching down at the posts for Aled Thomas to convert.
Thereafter, it was back to business as usual as the visitors’ pack got back on top and confined play largely to the Quins’ half, although there was no further scoring until the hour mark, when Garland again stepped up and landed a fine penalty to put his side back ahead. Thereafter it was a case of the Quins attempting without success to wrest the initiative as the Aberavon defence proved itself to be an immovable rock. With the pack proving to be a solid barrier at and around the breakdown, centres Will Price and Joe Gage, the latter bravely soldiering on despite carrying an injury, tackling powerfully, and former Carmarthen player Chris Banfield making his usually flawless contribution at the centre of a safe back-three with wings Shaun Pearce and debutant Jordan Condon, there was no way back for the home side. Aberavon effectively ensured their victory by monopolising possession until time ran out.