Aberavon RFC 31 Bedwas RFC 24.
Principality Premiership play-off semi-final Sunday 14th May 2017.
Match report and photography by Ian Lovell.
A 72nd minute try by Aberavon prop forward Alex Jefferies sealed the win for the home side and a place in the Premiership final next Sunday (22 May) but Bedwas should hold their heads high having achieved their highest position (3rd) in club history.
On a sunny, spring afternoon Bedwas were on the front foot from the start and opened the scoring after 4 minutes via a Richard Powell penalty goal after Aberavon were penalised for not rolling away.
However the home side scored the crucial first try of the day when outside half James Garland burst through midfield and having supporting runners both sides elected to pass right for wing Matthew Jenkins to cross out wide. Garland added the extras.
As in the game last week Aberavon scored two quick tries but unlike last week Bedwas dug in. The second home try coming from a lineout; the ball thrown straight to prop forward Rowan Jenkins who turned and galloped through a gap in the Bedwas defence. Garland again added the extras.
Richard Powell reduced arrears after Aberavon were penalised at a scrum before Nicky Griffiths exploited a gap down the left hand flank to cross for a fine try. Powell successfully kicked the conversion from the touchline to reduce the deficit to 1 point.
Bedwas took the game to their hosts and got their reward just before the break as Powell notched his third penalty of the half after the Aberavon pack was penalised at a scrum.
Bedwas started the second half with a bang; Aberavon turned over possession and Adam Williams broke through to find Mathew John who crashed through in the same corner he had a try disallowed the previous weekend. Powell’s conversion drifted across the posts.
Aberavon responded by putting the Bedwas line under pressure. Three successive penalties close to the line set up drives from line out’s(and following the third Bedwas given a team warning by the referee of likely sanctions for continued ill-discipline) and on the fourth Matthew Pettit was the unfortunate man picked out for foul play and a somewhat bemused Pettit trudged off for 10 minutes on the side-lines.
The home side exploited their one man advantage as prop Alex Jefferies broke through down the right hand side to cross for a try which Garland improved to level the scores.
Bedwas regained the lead on 58 minutes after Aberavon were penalised at a ruck; Powell making sure with his penalty attempt. The lead was short-lived as again Bedwas were made to pay for ill-discipline with Powell penalised for a ruck offence and Garland took the opportunity to level the scores via a penalty.
With 10 minutes to go and the scores locked on 24 points each Bedwas needed a score because although scores were level Aberavon would be declared winners courtesy of scoring more tries. It was Aberavon who grabbed the decisive score with lock forward Ben Davies crashing in from close range. The referee suspecting an Aberavon knock on immediately referred the score to the Television Match Official who allowed the try to stand after several minutes of tension whilst he made his decision.
Bedwas fought hard to try and salvage something from the game but the Aberavon defence held out and although shorn of a man late on after Ben Davies was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle there was to be no comeback.
Following the game representatives of Aberavon and Merthyr tossed a coined to decide the venue for next week’s game and it will be Aberavon who host the game, next Sunday at 3-30pm in front of the S4C cameras.