The home side collect five points
by Alex Kinsella-Evans
Fifth placed Ebbw welcomed sixth placed Aberavon to The Ciner Glass Community Stadium on what was a beautiful day for rugby.
Straight from the kick off, a fired-up Aberavon took the game to the hosts. From a lineout in the Ebbw Vale half, the ball made its way out to fly half Joe Thomas, who broke through the home defence to score under the posts and get Aberavon’s first try of the game. Winger Chris Banfield was successful with the conversion.
With the Steelmen’s forwards starting to get a foothold in the game, referee Mike English awarded the home side a penalty. Full back for the day and prolific points scorer Evan Lloyd kicked the three points.
The away side hit back quickly and scored their second try of the game in the fifteenth minute when winger Chris Banfield went over in the corner after some good play by his side’s forwards. Banfield was unsuccessful with the conversion from out wide.
Ebbw’s second penalty of the game came when referee English penalised the Wizards in their twenty-two after the Steelmen forwards started to get on the front foot. Lloyd was successful with the penalty to make it a six-point game.
With less than ten minutes left in the first half, good play between the home side forwards and backs saw a break into the away side’s twenty-two. Referee English awarded Aberavon number ten Joe Thomas a yellow card for a professional foul.
With Ebbw opting to take the scrum, quick hands by the backs saw the ball end up at the hands of full back Lloyd, who with plenty to do came into the line at pace to score a well taken try. However, Lloyd was unsuccessful with the conversion to bring his team back to within a point.
On the stroke of half time, further good play by the Steelman’s forwards and backs saw them make in-roads into Aberavon’s half. Within seconds, some quick passes out to winger Carrick McDonough, saw the winger in space. With no defender in sight, the speedster went over the try line untouched to go into double figures for the season. Lloyd added the extras to bring the half to a close.
Half Time Ebbw Vale 18 – 12 Aberavon
The start of the second half saw Ebbw Vale get on top. With the forwards making inroads, the Wizards were penalised in their own half. Marksman Lloyd duly added the three points for the home side.
With fullback Lloyd putting Ebbw on the front foot with some excellent 50:22 kicks, further good play by Ebbw Vale in the away side’s twenty-two, led to the ball arriving at flyhalf Kieran Meek’s hands deep inside the Aberavon twenty-two. With an overlap out wide, some smart thinking by the fly half, saw Meek throw a looping pass out wide to winger McDonough. In acres of space, the winger again went over the line untouched to extend his team’s lead. Lloyd again added the two points to make the score 28-12 to the Steelmen.
On fifty-six minutes, the hosts were reduced to fourteen men. After some good work by the Wizards, a try saving tackle by centre Dom Franchi saw the away side just short of the try line. However, the centre was penalised and shown the yellow card for having hands in the ruck.
From the resulting play and having the numerical advantage, Aberavon scored their third try of the game through Luke Davies. Chris Banfield was again successful with the conversion.
Within five minutes, the Wizards scored their bonus point try of the game. Some excellent exchange of passes between forwards and backs saw the supporting Frankie Jones score under the posts. Replacement Rhodri Cole kicked the conversion to bring it back to a two-point game.
Ebbw Vale coach Jason Strange replaced the ever-dependable Luke Garrett and hard-working Rhys Francis with Joel Harries and Joe Franchi.
Back to fifteen and with just less than a quarter of an hour to go in the game, the Steelmen had a lineout in the away side twenty-two. Quick ball out by scrum half Jon Evans saw outside centre Ethan Phillips go outside his opposite number to score the bonus point try. Lloyd added the two points.
The industrious Lewis Young was replaced by Bevan Jay, who was making his home debut. Further substitutions saw the outstanding Adam Court be replaced by Owen Hatherill, who also made his debut, the excellent Jon Evans replaced by Matthew Flanagan and Morgan Thomas came on for the excellent Jakub Malecki.
With the game ending, a dominant display by Ebbw saw the home side awarded a penalty in the Aberavon half. The team’s top scorer Lloyd kicked the penalty to extend his team’s lead to twelve points.
Credit to both sides, who contributed towards an entertaining game. Coach Jason Strange will be hoping his side see the season out next week at home to Cardiff with a win.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 38 – 26 Aberavon
Distillery spirit of Wales man of the match: Adam Court
After the game we spoke to Ebbw Vale winger Amir Jiwa Walji. Amir thought the team made a slow start within the first fifteen minutes. However, he was happy that they ended up securing the bonus point win.
We also spoke to opposition winger Stef Andrews. Stef stated, it is always tough to play at Ebbw Vale. He added Ebbw are a quality team with a big heavy pack. It was Aberavon’s last game of the season and they attempted to go out with a bang but just fell short. Stef finished by saying it was a great win for Ebbw and a nice way to end the season for them.