Ebbw Go Top of the League
The Steelmen forwards laid the foundations for the home side to win 25 – 17 and replace Llandovery at the top of the table in a game that was played in miserable weather conditions.
The start of the game saw both sides try to adapt to the wet weather conditions.
Within ten minutes, Ebbw were awarded a penalty when the referee penalised the away side. The home side outside half Evan Lloyd duly kicked the penalty for the first points of the game.
The Drovers immediately hit back when, from the restart a knock on was collected by one of the home side players in an offside position. Last years league top points scorer Jack Maynard brought the scores level.
From the scrum on the halfway line, the referee awarded the away side with a penalty after an infringement from Ebbw Vale in the scrum. With Llandovery kicking into the home side twenty-two, from the resulting line out, a breakthrough the Steelmen’s defence saw the ball make its way out to Aaron Warren, who crossed for the first try of the game. Maynard was unable to add the two points.
Ebbw’s coach Jason Strange was forced to make an early substitution when young number eight Ryan Jenkins was forced off the pitch due to an injury and replaced by Owen Conquer.
With the home side starting to win the forward battle, the Steelmen were offered an opportunity to reduce the deficit when the Drovers were adjudged to be offside inside their own half. Marksman Lloyd duly kicked the penalty to bring the game to within two points.
A clever high kick by outside half Lloyd led to Llandovery knocking on inside their own half. Ebbw centre Dom Franchi was on hand to take the ball forward and set the forwards up to go through the phases. Quick ball by Jon Evans to Lloyd, saw the outside half take the ball on, draw the defence, feint to pass inside and instead pass the ball out to winger Amir Jiwa-Walji. With a lot to do, the winger showed his pace and strength by bursting through the midfield at an angle, handing of a defender and beating two covering defenders to the line to score a very well taken try. Lloyd was unsuccessful with the conversion.
With the referee penalising the Drovers again, marksman Lloyd superbly kicked the penalty to put the home side three points ahead. The away side were quickly given another opportunity to draw level through a penalty. However, Maynard was uncharacteristically off target with his attempt.
Llandovery were soon level, when from a penalty at a scrum, Maynard was successful with his kick.
Going into the final few minutes of the first half, both sides exchanged penalties, with Ebbw Vale’s Lloyd sending a wonderful kick from the halfway line straight through the posts. The away sides Maynard brought the scores level at half time with a penalty from inside the home side’s twenty-two.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 14 Llandovery 14
The second half started off in the same fashion as the first half ended. With the Steelmen’s outside half Lloyd kicking through and chasing, the covering defender pulled the number ten back to stop him collecting the ball. From which, the referee awarded Ebbw a penalty. The club’s top scorer Lloyd successfully added the three points to put the home side back in front.
Ebbw Vale were soon reduced to fourteen men, when from a grubber kick in the Llandovery half, the ball bobbled inside the home side’s twenty-two. Full back Morgan Richards collected the ball and threw it back. Attempting to recover the ball on their own try line, the referee adjudged the full back went off his feet to stop Llandovery from obtaining the ball and sent Richards to the sin bin for ten minutes.
With the weather conditions deteriorating, Ebbw coach Strange replaced prop Harry Drane with Adam Court.
Llandovery were once again level when they were awarded a penalty from the lineout. Full back Maynard successfully added the three points.
With the home side forwards starting to go through the gears, the referee showed the Drovers prop Jamie Hughes a yellow card for being offside. Fly half Lloyd uncharacteristically hit the post.
From the rebound, the ball landed in the arms of a Steelmen forward’s arms inside the Drovers twenty-two. However, the ball was knocked on. Prop Morgan Davies was replaced by Luke Garrett and from the resulting scrum, an offence by the away side provided fly half Lloyd with an opportunity to put Ebbw back in front. The number ten duly obliged to make the score 20-17.
The home side were starting to apply the pressure. With the ball at the hands of fly half Lloyd in the centre of the pitch, a well-judged kick, saw the ball bounce into the hands of speedster Carrick McDonough in the Llandovery twenty-two.
As the covering defender approached, the home side winger cleverly put in a soft grubber kick, which the away side covering defence took over the line. A good chase by the home side saw the Drovers dot the ball down, resulting in a scrum to Ebbw Vale.
From the scrum five metres out, a huge push by the Steelmen eight, saw replacement Conquer touch the ball down at the base of the scrum to score his first try for the club. Fly half Lloyd was unable to add the two points.
The home sides final changes saw Kieran Meek replace Evan Lloyd, Ieaun Morris come on for captain Rhys Francis and Gethin Williams replace Cameron Regan.
Despite the best efforts of the away side, the Steelmen’s defence held firm, with no further points being added to the game.
With the away side throwing caution to the wind, a break by the backs from their own twenty-two saw Ebbw scrum half Jon Evans put in a superb cover tackle just inside the Ebbw Vale half. The referee then blew his whistle for full time.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 25 Llandovery 17
Tries: Amir Jiwa-Walji, Owen Conquer
Penalties: Evan Lloyd (5)
Man Of The Match: Morgan Davies
Seren yr Gem (S4C): Rhys Francis
After the game we spoke with Ebbw Vale prop Luke Garrett. Luke believed it was a good battle between the two sides. He thought Ebbw dug in deep and the side showed their fitness and what they had been working on for the last five months. Luke ended by stating he was happy the team got the win.
The Steelmen are next in action on Saturday 21st October against Neath at the Gnoll