PREMIERSHIP REVIEW: Wizards looking to conjure up more magic
18 April 2017 12:35
Stef Andrews was among the Aberavon try scorers at Church Bank
Aberavon could move to within a point of Tier 1 leaders Merthyr if they can make it three bonus-point wins in a row at Carmarthen Quins on Saturday.
Hot on the heels of their home win over Pontypridd, Jason Hyatt's Wizards conjured up a remarkable late, late win at Llandovery to keep their charge for the play-offs on track. Now the team that topped the Principality Premiership table in the first half of the season are getting back to the top in the battle for the title.
Replacement hooker Ieuan Davies was the toast of Aberavon after he crashed over for an 83rd minute try that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the Wizards as they hit back to beat Llandovery 30-27.
It looked as though the game had gone the home side's way after lock Jake Baker muscled his way over for a try that Jack Maynard converted to take Llandovery into a 27-23 lead with two minutes left to play.
But this Aberavon side, who ended the first phase of the season three points clear the top of the table, never knows when it is beaten. Not only did they find a way to win, but they also went away with a try bonus point.
Victory moved them up to fourth place with a game in hand on the three teams ahead of them in Tier 1. Veteran lock Ian Moore gave the visitor's a flying start when he crossed for the first try after only seven minutes and further tries from Luke Joseph and Stef Andrews took them into a 20-3 lead.
But the Drovers hit back on the stroke of half time with a Mike Evans try and 10 minutes into the second half they had tied things up at 20-20 with an Aaron Warren try and a conversion and penalty from Maynard. Garland kicked the Wizards back in front before Baker and Davies struck at the death.
In Tier 2, Bargoed performed their own version of the 'Great Escape/ as they overturned a 19 point deficit to triumph 36-29 at The Gnoll. They now meet table-topping Newport at home this weekend.
Having been hit with an opening salvo of 19 points, with hooker Ifan Phillips crossing twice and Gavin Evans getting a third, Bargoed must have feared they were in for another hiding in the wake of their 52-7 defeat at Llanelli six days earlier.
But they refused to buckle and hit back to turn the game on its head and put themselves in with an outside chance of reaching the play-off places with three home games to come. The fightback was led by outside half Calum Jones, who ended up with two tries and 19 points to shade home full back Ed Howley, who scored 14. Wing David Evans kick-started the revival with a try on 28 minutes and lock Josh Jacas also crossed at the end of the first-half.
Two tries in quick succession from Jones and centre Ashley Norton then levelled the scores at 26-26 before Howley and Jones swapped penalties to make it 29-29. Jones then came up with the crucial score as he crossed for his second try five minutes from time and Matthew Lewis added the conversion.
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.
The unique jeopardy of Judgement Day V has been described by stars from Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons who will face each other in the annual double-header at Principality Stadium on 15th April.
School club hub officers in schools throughout Wales are enriching lives by helping pupils to engage more with their education, their community and improve their own outlook on life and future prospects by improving confidence and developing skills such as leadership.