Team to face Aberavon (H)

It’s derby day at the Timbuild Brewery Field on Saturday when local rivals Bridgend Ravens and Aberavon face off in an Indigo Premiership Cup clash (2:30pm). 

The Ravens will be buoyed by last weekend’s narrow 21pts to 18 victory over Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets. In a game strewn with errors, Bridgend scored tries through Lee Murphy and debutant Tom Florence, with the boot of experienced outside half Matthew Jones guiding them to success despite the best efforts of the home side late on.

After a summer of fine recruitment, Aberavon have made a formidable start to their campaign. Already renowned for a blistering back division, the Wizards added forwards Nicky Thomas, Jordan Walters and Rhys Fawcett to their pack, along with backs Jay Baker and Joe Thomas to increase their firepower behind the scrum. That has already proved fruitful, with Aberavon overcoming Llanelli (43pts to 17) and Swansea (27pts to 14) in their two bonus point victories so far, both played at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

The last time the two teams met at the Timbuild Brewery Field was over two years ago in an emotional match played just days after the passing of former Bridgend Chairman Derrick King. The Ravens got off to the perfect start, leading 20pts to 10 at half time, but a second half turnaround from Aberavon saw outside half Aled Thomas win the game with the last kick of the game, 27pts to 26. The reverse fixture was comfortably won by Aberavon on Boxing Day 2019 44pts to 3.

Head Coach Steve Jones is forced into a number of alterations to his starting lineup with injuries and unavailability meaning that he gets the opportunity to showcase some of his wider squad. Owen Howe is back at full back, in a back three with Caine Woolerton and Cameron Ellis. In midfield, Tom Morgan retains the 12 jersey after two Man of the Match performances where he plays alongside Stuart Floyd Ellis. The half backs are the experienced Jamie Murphy and Chris Williams.

Amongst the forwards, it’s a back row of Morgan Strong, Aled Evans and Travis Huntley, with a second row comprising Captain Chris John and Matthew Davies. Rhys Forse gets the nod at tighthead, with the returning Gareth Harvey selected at hooker. At tighthead, there’s a Bridgend Ravens debut for Curtis Hicks, playing on permit from St Albans.

Bridgend Ravens XV: 15. Owen Howe 14. Caine Woolerton 13. Stuart Floyd Ellis 12. Tom Morgan 11. Cameron Ellis 10. Jamie Murphy 9. Chris Williams

1. Rhys Forse 2. Gareth Harvey 3. Curtis Hicks 4. Chris John (capt) 5. Matthew Davies 6. Travis Huntley 7. Aled Evans 8. Morgan Strong

Replacements: 16. Lee Murphy 17. Owen Jordan 18. Steffan Jones 19. Kieran Martin 20. Hemi Barnes 21. Iestyn Merriman 22. Harvey Nash 23. Matthew Jones

Aberavon XV: 15. Joe Gage 14. Chris Banfield 13. Chay Smith 12. Will Price 11. Stef Andrews 10. Aled Thomas 9. Rhodri Cole

1. Rhys Fawcett 2. Luke Davies 3. Geraint James 4. Shay Smallman 5. Rhodri Hughes 6. Lee Purnell 7. Lloyd Evans 8. Andrew Waite

Replacements: 16. Iwan Temblett 17. Frankie Jones 18. Joe Thomas 19. Ieuan Davies 20. Rowan Jenkins 21. Ashton Evans 22. Sam Williams 23. Nicky Thomas

Referee: Aled Evans | AR1: Elliott Mayer | AR2: Kristoff Young