Phil Westren's Report
For the Cornish Pirates, despite losing this pre-season opener this was still nonetheless a worthy workout against their Welsh Premiership side hosts.
Travelling from Cornwall to Port Talbot for a teatime kick-off, the Cornish Pirates were skippered by Chris Morgan, who earlier in the week was named as Club Captain for a third consecutive season. He partnered Cornishman Edd Pascoe in the second-row.
Getting off to a sound start at the Talbot Athletic Ground, where two years ago they suffered a narrow 27-24 loss, the Cornish Pirates opened the scoring thanks to a try scored by Argentine centre Nicolas De Battista. Fly-half Will Cargill added the extras. 0-7.
The Wizards responded to work a little magic, their created spell seeing them conjure up two tries. Wing Steff Andrews intercepted to run in an unconverted score, and they then took the lead when hooker Gareth Harvey went over for their team’s second try. Fly-half Steff Williams slotted the conversion. 12-7.
In general, this game was as closely fought as had been expected, and a second try of the match for the Pirates, scored by full-back Matt Evans, confirmed the view. With Cargill converting, it also gave the Pirates a two point advantage at the break. 12-14.
Former ‘Pirate’ Rheon James featured for the Wizards in the centre, and an evenly matched second period was likely expected. It wasn’t to be. Credit would be due Aberavon for dominating play and totting up a trio of converted scores to put them comfortably in front. Replacement hooker Ieuan Davies scored the first try, and full-back Richard Carter the second. Both efforts were converted by Williams. As for their last effort, it was the try of the match, one finished off by replacement scrum-half Jacob Flynn. Jamie Sturgess eased over the conversion. 33-14.
The teams made their changes, and there was at least credit that the Pirates strived to the very end. Their reward was a third try, this time scored by replacement flanker John Stevens. Another man off the bench, Laurence May, kicked the conversion. Final score - 33-21.
Coach Gavin Cattle gave an honest appraisal in his post-match comments, saying: “We knew Aberavon would once again provide tough opposition and it was just the type of game needed for a pre-season workout.
“Having taken a lead into half-time it was a pity we weren’t able to gain momentum into the second half, but that’s credit to the Wizards.
Gavin added: “At this stage we are fully aware there will be ‘work-ons’, to improve in certain areas, and it’ll keep us focused as we seek to develop.”
15 Richard Carter, 14 David Evans, 13 Will Price, 12 Rheon James
11 Steff Andrews, 10 Steff Williams, 9 David Pritchard;
1 Rowan Jenkins, 2 Gareth Harvey, 3 Rhys Forse, 4 Ian Moore (capt),
5 Ben Jones, 6 Lee Purnell, 7 Joe T. Reeves, 8 Chris Davies.
Replacements (all used):
Dan Davies, Matthew Jacobs, Jamie Sturgess, Jacob Flynn, Jon Thomas, Ieuan Davies, Alex Jeffries, Sam Williams, David Griggs, Rob D. Jones, Luke Joseph, Nathan Brown.
15 Matt Evans, 14 Jack Arnott, 13 Alex Dancer, 12 Nicolas De Battista
11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day;
1 Marlen Walker, 2 Rob Elloway, 3 Tyler Gendall, 4 Chris Morgan (capt)
5 Edd Pascoe, 6 Jake Parker, 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Tom Duncan.
Replacements (all used):
Luke Chapman, Jack Andrew, Tom Channon, Jack Innard, Josh Caulfield
Dan Lee, John Stevens, Timoci Kava, Mike Pope, Laurence May
Alex O’Meara, Rhys Brownfield.
Aberavon Wizards – tries: Andrews, Harvey, I. Davies, Carter, Flynn; cons: Steff Williams (3), Sturgess.
Cornish Pirates – tries: Battista, Evans, Stevens; cons: Cargill (2), L. May