The Steelmen Dig Deep to Win
A last-minute long-distance penalty miss by Bridgend, saw Ebbw win a close fought game by two points on a wet Gwent day.
The home side came out of the blocks quickly. After being awarded consecutive penalties, outside half Evan Lloyd put Ebbw Vale inside Bridgend’s twenty-two. From the lineout, the forwards set up a maul, with co-captain Rhys Francis on hand to touch down within the first ten minutes. Fly half Lloyd was unable to add the extra’s.
However, the away side soon put their first points of the afternoon on the scoreboard, when number ten Luke Price sent the ball through the middle of the uprights after the Steelmen were penalised by referee Jason Bessant.
The Ravens had another opportunity to go in front, when the referee adjudged an Ebbw Vale player had pulled back a Bridgend player off the ball. From by the five-metre line, outside half Price put the kick wide.
Moments later the Steelmen extended their lead. After the away side were penalised for being offside, Ebbw points machine Lloyd successfully slotted the penalty to put his side five points ahead.
With the away side starting to see more of the ball, fly half Price was again on target with his second penalty of the afternoon, after referee Bessant penalised Ebbw Vale for ill-discipline.
On the stroke of half time, the home side were again penalised. From out by the touchline ten metres inside the Ebbw half, outside half Price sent the ball through the posts to give his side a one-point lead going into the interval.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 8 Bridgend Ravens 9
The Ravens came out for the second half with a point to prove. A clean break through the home side defence in the centre of the pitch saw two players in support. With a draw of full back McDonough and a quick pass to Jordan Collier, resulted in the Bridgend player sliding over the line for the away sides first try of the afternoon. Fly half Price slotted the conversion to put his side eight points ahead.
With both teams conceding possession, Ebbw Vale coach Jason Strange made his sides first changes of the afternoon. Forwards Morgan Davies and Harry Drane replaced fellow props Luke Garrett and Adam Court on the fifty first minute.
On the hour mark the Steelmen were given another opportunity to reduce the deficit. Marksman Lloyd duly obliged from the tee and added three points to the Ebbw Vale scoreline.
With the game entering the final twenty-minutes, Ebbw coach Strange made further changes when Rory Harries replaced Jon Evans and Amir Jiwa-Walji came on for Ryan Davies.
However, the momentum swung on the sixty-eighth minute when Bridgend were reduced to fourteen men. Young Ebbw Vale number eight Owen Conquer ran at the Bridgend defence and was tackled high. Credit to all the medical staff, who were on the scene immediately to see to the youngster. Before play resumed, referee Bessant produced a red card to the Ravens replacement Gareth Harvey for the high tackle. Ebbw replacement Alex Howes, returning to the club from Abergavenny, came on to replace the young number eight.
Ebbw coach Strange continued to make the changes with Kieran Meek replacing Evan Lloyd. With the Steelmen in the ascendancy and the referee awarding penalty after penalty, the away side were reduced to thirteen men on the seventy fourth minute. Replacement prop Alex George receiving the yellow card.
The Steelmen emptied their bench with Curtis Gregory replacing second row Jacub Malecki and hooker Ieuan Morris came on for co-captain Rhys Francis.
The home side continued to show their power up front with referee Bessant awarding penalty after penalty at the scrum on the away sides five metre line. In the closing minutes, a huge effort by the pack at scrum time, saw referee Bessant award a penalty try to Ebbw and produce a further yellow card to Bridgend’s number one Harry Olding, to leave the away side play the final moments with twelve men.
A valiant effort by the Ravens just inside the Ebbw Vale half, saw the forwards go through the phases. Referee Bessant awarded the away side a penalty just inside the Steelmen half. With the last play of the game, replacement fly half Paul Short eyed up the posts. With a huge swing of the boot the ball fell short of the posts to enable the home side to kick the ball into touch and claim a hard fought win.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 18 Bridgend Ravens 16
After the game we spoke with Ebbw Vale forward Adam Court. Adam acknowledged the performance was not the prettiest and believed it was an ugly win. However, he was pleased the team found a way to win the game. Adam finished by informing the squad know they have to improve if they are to come away from the big game on Thursday against Pontypool with a victory.
Man Of The Match: Owen Conquer
Tries: Rhys Francis, Penalty try
Penalties: Evan Lloyd (2)
The Steelmen’s next game is away to Pontypool RFC at Pontypool Park on Thursday 2nd November 2023 in front of the S4C Clic camera’s, with kick off at 7:30pm.
Written by Alex Kinsella-Evans