Aberavon 28-9 Bedwas
Saturday May 6, Port Talbot
Two tries in four first-half minutes gave Aberavon a commanding lead which an under-par Bedwas were unable to recover from, as the Wizards earned the win to clinch home advantage when the sides meet again in the Principality Premiership’s play-off semi-final on Sunday May 14.
The game started off at a reasonable pace, as both sides sized each other up.
Bedwas took the lead via the left boot of James S Dixon, after the home side were adjudged offside. Dixon added a second penalty after 17 minutes to double the lead.
Aberavon came back strongly, and a penalty to touch set up a driving maul. Prop Rowan Jenkins was driven over for the game’s first try, and James Garland converted the extras.
The two outside-halves exchanged further penalties, before the match sparked to life in a decisive period.
In the space of four minutes, Aberavon opened up a 13-point lead. The driving maul was serving the Wizards well, and led to a second try through hooker Ieaun Davies. Garland missed the conversion, but before Bedwas could recover their composure, a quickly taken tap-penalty by scrum-half David Pritchard saw him dart through to touch down under the posts. Garland made no mistakes from the tee, and half-time saw the home side in control at 22-9.
Bedwas made a change in the second row at half-time, bringing on Rhys Verley for Joe Davies as the visitors looked to find an answer to Aberavon’s set-piece dominance.
The match turned into a finely balanced wrestle as stout defending held the home side’s pacy wingers at bay, and it took until the hour mark for the second-half’s first score when Garland notched another penalty.
Aberavon’s tighthead prop Alex Jeffries was sin-binned for back chat with 69 minutes on the clock, but Bedwas were unable to make their one-man advantage count.
Winger Matthew John had a try ruled out for a foot in touch as he burst down the left-hand flank, but Aberavon’s defensive prowess was matched by the frequency of Bedwas errors.
Replacement Steffen Williams kicked a last-minute penalty for the home side to compound the misery on Bedwas, who finished the game without scoring a try for the first time this season.
The two sides will face off again on Sunday May 14 at the talbot Athletic Ground in the play-off semi-final. Kick-off is 3.30pm.
• Match report and photography by Ian Lovell of Bedwas RFC.