ABERAVON 15 RGC 7
(by Howard Evans)
Aberavon showed true grit in grinding out the victory over their North Wales opponents at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
It was a tight close-fought encounter, but Aberavon also had just enough to take the win and deny RGC any losing bonus point.
The Aberavon forwards had the edge even if their backs did not get enough chances in the misty-rainy conditions.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the ‘Wizards’ were getting on top when RGC captain and former Aberavon hooker Evan Yardley threw in at the line-out.
The throw eluded all except flanker Joe Tomalin-Reeves who raced clear for the first score.
Full back Chris Banfield converted, and it was a lead that the home side never lost.
The second half opened with Aberavon racing downfield and eventually the outstanding prop Rowan Jenkins scored but Banfield’s conversion attempt struck a post.
RGC could not get going against a superb defence and after 54 minutes Banfield increased the lead with a well-judged penalty shot.
RGC lost lock Bryn Jones to a yellow card but doubled their efforts and three minutes from time it was the former Cape Town University student, replacement back, Karl Martin, who broke through.
Martin raced under the crossbar and Billy McBryde converted.
The last minutes were hectic, but Aberavon kept the ball and gained the win.
Aberavon backs coach Lyndon Lewis said: “Our scrum was the key for us and it won us the game.
“We had a game plan and the players stuck to it. Maybe it wasn’t always pretty but the conditions dictated that.
“The conditions were tough for both sides and hard graft was the order of the day.”
For Aberavon all the players were heroes. Ashton Evans and Luke Davies were outstanding carriers and behind the scrum Liam Popham had his best game for the club, while any side that can have Andrew Waite and Jonny Phillips among the bench must have worked hard.
Aberavon 15 – 7 RGC 1404
Chris Banfield; Frankie Jones, Joe Gage, James Garland (capt), Stef Andrews; Liam Popham, Jacob Flynn (rep Iwan Temblett 73 min); Rowan Jenkins (rep Rhys Forse 80+1 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 68 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 73 min), Ben Davies (rep Ben Thomas 32 min), Rhodri Hughes, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Ashton Evans (rep Andrew Waite 63 min), Jac Morgan (rep Iwan Shenton 68 min).
Replacements Not Used:
Frankie Jones, Iwan Temblett & Iwan Shenton appeared from the Ospreys; Cameron Lewis appeared from the Blues.
T – Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Rowan Jenkins
C – Chris Banfield
PG – Chris Banfield
RGC 1404 Scorers:
T – Karl Martin
C – Billy McBryde
Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Tomalin-Reeves
2 – Rowan Jenkins
3 – Chris Banfield
20 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Tomalin-Reeves & C – Chris Banfield (7 – 0)
40+6 min: Half Time
41 min: Aberavon – T – Rowan Jenkins (12 – 0)
54 min: Aberavon – PG – Chris Banfield (15 – 0)
57 min: RGC – Yellow Card – Bryn Jones
78 min: RGC – T – Karl Martin & C – Billy McBryde (15 – 7)
80+6 min: Full Time