Above: John Rhys Williams powers into the Aberavon 22 in Saturday's close encounter. (Copyright: Dragon Tales Photography).
- Swansea fall just short of victory at Talbot Athletic
- Former All White Rob Dudley-Jones with only try for Wizards
- Sam Kiley returns after 21 months out injured
By: Paul Hopkins
Aberavon held on to secure a double over a much-improved Swansea team at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
The home side fielded a total of six former All Whites in their starting line-up, which made for a very tasty encounter between the two Ospreys feeder clubs.
Winger Owen Howe was handed a chance to kick his side ahead after just two minutes after obstruction at the lineout, but he missed his effort at goal.
With the visitors looking impressive in the opening period, centre J Rhys Williams burst through a tackle and sprinted towards the line, but was tackled a metre short and his side were unable to recycle the ball quickly enough.
Aberavon wing Mike Wilson attempted to run the ball out of defence, but was brought down just shy of the half way line. The tackle was adjudged to be high, but nothing came of the penalty.
Wizards number eight Rob Dudley-Jones charged upfield from a quickly taken free kick and the Whites’ defence were penalised for hands in the ruck. Fly half James Garland kicked to the corner, but any potential attacking move broke down following a dropped pass.
Arguably the pivotal moment of the match came on 28 minutes when the Aberavon backs got the ball out wide to Wilson, who was brought down five metres from the line. Former Wizard Rory Gallagher killed the ball and was sent to the sidelines for ten minutes.
The numerical advantage told for Aberavon as they pushed their counterparts backwards at a scrum with Dudley-Jones picking up at the base to score a simple try. Garland converted.
Offside in open play following a handling error gifted Swansea a penalty and Howe successfully kicked his side’s first points of the afternoon.
Scrum half Jacob Flynn took a quick tap penalty, but the supporting flanker Joe Tomalin Reeves was stopped on the twenty-two, although the Whites’ defence had stepped offside in midfield. Garland duly converted the penalty goal.
A well-weighted touch finder by fly half Gareth Walters took play deep inside the Aberavon twenty-two, but a well worked lineout by the home side allowed them to clear.
Half-time:- Aberavon 10 Swansea 3
Swansea began the second half in the same fashion as the first by gaining an early penalty after the Wizards’ crept offside in midfield. This time Howe converted his effort at goal.
The winger had the chance to reduce the deficit to a single point after Wilson became isolated and held on after the tackle, but his effort sailed the wrong side of the posts.
A handling error in midfield by the visitors gifted Aberavon possession and it looked as if winger Chris Banfield scored in the corner after he backed his pace. However, following a long consultation with the touch judge, referee Calum Howard disallowed the try for an earlier dangerous tackle.
A superb cross field kick by Garland was well taken by Banfield, but the supporting full back Liam Popham was bundled into touch.
A barnstorming run by centre Will Price sent lock Ben Davies charging upfield, forcing the Whites’ defence offside. Garland kicked the penalty goal.
The Whites then stole lineout ball on the Aberavon twenty-two and earned a penalty after the defence strayed offside. Replacement fly half James Davies kicked to the corner, but from the maul, flanker Emyr Williams spilled possession forward.
Flanker Lee Purnell made a break in midfield and the visitors were penalised for offside. Garland found touch deep inside Swansea territory and his forwards rumbled towards the line with a maul, but were penalised for holding on after the tackle.
Hooker Ieuan Jones was shown a yellow card ten minutes from time for killing a Swansea attack and Howe made him pay with a three pointer.
As Swansea went in search of a match winning try, a long period of open, exciting rugby ensued, which saw tempers flare, but the home side managed to defend well for the well-earned victory.
Next up for Aberavon is a trip to Carmarthen, while Swansea travel to Bridgend.
Full-time:- Aberavon 13 Swansea 9
Tries:- Rob Dudley-Jones (31)
Cons:- James Garland (32)
Pens:- James Garland (37, 53)
Yellow cards:- Ieuan Jones (73)
Pens:- Owen Howe (34, 42, 74)
Yellow cards:- Rory Gallagher (28)
Venue:- Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot
Referee:- Calum Howard
Weather:- Sunny, 10C
Man of the match:- Mike Wilson
15 Liam Popham (rep: John Phillips 65)
14 Chris Banfield
13 Will Price
12 Rheon James
11 Mike Wilson
10 James Garland ©
9 Jacob Flynn
1 Mike Burgess (rep: Alex Jefferies 65)
2 Ieuan Davies
3 Rhys Henry (rep: Jordan Walters 13)
4 Ben Thomas (rep: Ben Jones 78)
5 Ben Davies
6 Lee Purnell
7 Joe Tomalin-Reeves (rep: Luke Joseph 80+2)
8 Rob Dudley-Jones (rep: Luke Davies 76)
16 Jonathan Phillips
17 Stef Williams
18 Luke Joseph
19 Luke Davies
20 Jacob Blackmore
21 Alex Jeffries
22 Jordan Walters
23 Ben Jones
15 Rhys R Williams
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Jedd Evans (rep: Liam Smith 69)
12 J Rhys Williams
11 Owen Howe
10 Gareth Walters (rep: James Davies 53)
9 Josh Guy (rep: Tom Ham 69)
1 Jack Powell (rep: Tom Sloane 41)
2 Paul John (rep: Tom Ball 26)
3 Fenton Holder (rep: Richard Murphy 41)
4 Jon Fox ©
5 Matt Dodd
6 Jon Vaughan (rep: Sam Kiley 69)
7 Emyr Williams (rep: Ben Davies 76)
8 Rory Gallagher
16 Tom Ball
17 Tom Sloane
18 Richard Murphy
19 Sam Kiley
20 Ben Davies
21 Tom Ham
22 James Davies
23 Liam Smith