Ebbw gain a last gasp win
By Alex Kinsella-Evans
On a day when the weather could not decide what to do, a Kieran Meek drop goal with the final kick of the game wins the game for the Steelmen and moved them back up to fourth in the table.
From the kick-off the home side knocked the ball on. With the away side having a scrum in the Ebbw Vale half, the ball made its way to full back Ed Howley, who went over for the first try of the game in the opening minutes. Outside half Paul Short added the two points.
The Steelmen got back into the game after being awarded a penalty. Prolific outside half Evan Lloyd kicking the three points.
Bridgend’s second try of the game came when the forwards made inroads into the Ebbw twenty-two. After some quick passes within the backs, the ball made its way to full back Howley, who drew the home side’s winger in and put former Steelman Mike Powell in for the try within the first fifteen minutes. Fly half Short again added the extras.
The home side quickly hit back, where from a lineout in the Bridgend twenty-two, the ball made its way to Ebbw Vale flanker Joe Thomas, who scored his sides first try of the game. Fly half Lloyd successfully kicked the conversation.
Within 10 minutes the Steelmen scored their second try of the game. The Ebbw Vale forwards secured the lineout and a pass out by scrum half Jon Evans eventually made its way to centre Dom Franchi, who cleverly drew the defence and passed to prop Luke Garrett, who showed a turn of pace to score the try from just inside the Bridgend twenty-two. Lloyd again added the two points.
Ebbw nearly scored a further try when some quick and clever ball through the hands of the backs led to winger Morgan Richards going over in the corner. However, the assistant referee had raised his flag for a foot in touch.
With the referee penalising Ebbw Vale, the away side number ten Short added a further six points to the scoreboard going into the final minutes of the first half.
On the stroke of half time, the referee awarded the home side a penalty inside the Bridgend half. Flyhalf Lloyd successfully kicked the conversation to make it all square at half time.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 20-20 Bridgend
The away side came out for the second half, much like the first half and took the play to Ebbw Vale. On the fifty first minute, Ebbw coach Jason Strange made a change and brought on prop Harry Drane, who replaced Adam Court.
With the away side on top inside the Ebbw twenty-two, a pass out to the wing was intercepted by speedster Morgan Richards, who ran the length of the field to score the Steelmen’s third try of the game. Lloyd added the two points.
The home side made a host of changes over the following 15 minutes when Lewis Young replaced the impressive Joe Thomas, Matthew Flanagan came onto the wing for try scorer Morgan Richards, Andrew Mann replaced the hard working Curtis Gregory, Morgan Thomas replaced the tough tackling Chad Thomas and Charley Kearns came on for try scorer Luke Garrett.
Bridgend scored their third try of the game when from continuous penalties and pressure inside the Steelmen’s twenty-two, the ball was passed out wide to winger Caine Woolerton to touch down in the corner. Replacement outside half Luke Price kicked the tricky conversation.
Ebbw made their last change of the game when hooker Alex Watkins replaced captain Rhys Francis inside the last ten minutes.
After a game of kick tennis, replacement winger Matthew Flanagan received the ball in his side’s twenty-two, only to be tackled high by the away side’s Reuben Tucker. Referee Jones, went straight to his pocket to show the Bridgend player a yellow card.
Inside the last five minutes of the game, a nasty looking injury to Bridgend’s Hemi Barnes led to a lengthy pause in play. Credit to both medical teams and Dr Thomas who were on the scene immediately.
With the game drawing to a close, the Steelmen forwards took the play to the opposition and made in roads into the away sides twenty-two. With the forwards going through the phases, the ball was passed to full back Kieran Meek in front of the posts, who kicked the drop goal to win the game in dramatic fashion for the home side.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 30-27 Bridgend
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After the game we spoke to team manager Dan Haymond. Reflecting on the game Dan thought it was a scrappy affair but believed Ebbw scored some nice tries in the first half. However, he believed the team were sloppy, gave a lot of ball away with individual errors and discipline cost the side. Dan was happy with the improvement made in the second half. He finished with wishing Hemi Barnes a speedy recovery after an unfortunate injury which slowed the game down due to the length of break. He praised the team for winning the game at the end with a drop goal.
We also spoke with scrum half Jon Evans. Jon was happy to have another win at home, especially as it was won in the last minute, which is something the team will never turn down. He acknowledged Ebbw still have room for improvement and the squad were aware it was not the best performance, however, it had been a similar picture all season. He continued by saying the team were not playing well but at home we`re edging out the victory`s which is moving Ebbw up the table. Jon ended saying there were some aspects of the game to work on but overall was happy with the way the game had gone.