Ebbw Continue Their Good Run
Neath RFC 17 Ebbw Vale RFC 35
The Steelmen came away from the Lexton Gnoll with five points, after a scrappy performance saw them score five tries.
The away side came out of the blocks quickly and put Neath under a sustained amount of pressure. With the referee awarding the Steelmen numerous penalties inside the Welsh All Blacks half, a quick bit of thinking by Ebbw Vale scrum half Jon Evans, saw the captain for the day take a quick tap from a penalty in the home side twenty-two and dive over the line to score the games first try of the game. Fly half Kieran Meek added the extras.
The away side kept up the pressure and soon scored their second try of the game. From a penalty in the Neath half, a kick by Ebbw outside half Meek gave the away side a lineout in Neath’s twenty-two. From the lineout, the forwards went through the phases and hooker Ieuan Morris grounded the ball. Number ten Meek was successful with the conversion to put his side fourteen points ahead.
Despite being awarded numerous penalties, Ebbw Vale were unable to take advantage and add to the score.
A lovely 50:22 kick by the Steelmen fullback for the day Carrick McDonough, saw Ebbw Vale apply more pressure to the Neath try line. However, on this occasion the Welsh All Blacks defence held firm.
On their first visit to the away side twenty-two, Neath struck back. A scrum to the home side to the left of the posts saw number six Gethin Tremblett pick up the ball from the scrum and run over unopposed. Flyhalf Steff Williams added the extras.
With the hosts gaining in confidence, further good play saw the referee award the Welsh All Blacks a penalty just inside the Ebbw Vale twenty-two for offside. Outside half Williams was unlucky not to add three points as he hit the post. However, Williams was soon to make amends, when after being awarded another penalty, the number ten successfully added three points to reduce the deficit to four.
No further points were added to the scoreline before half time.
Half Time: Neath 10 Ebbw Vale 14
The home side came out for the second half, looking to continue where they left the first half. A lineout in the Ebbw Vale twenty-two saw the hosts awarded a further penalty. However, after going to the line out, the Steelmen were able to turn the ball over and clear their lines.
After forty-five minutes, Ebbw coach Jason Strange started to ring the changes. Co-Captain Rhys Francis replaced Ieuan Morris and props Luke Garrett and Adam Court came on for Charley Kearns and Owen Hatherill.
Within two minutes off coming on, captain Francis made an instant impact. After kicking to the corner from a penalty in the Neath twenty-two, the Ebbw Vale forwards won the line out and set up a maul for Francis to dive over the line to score his side’s third try of the afternoon. Kieran Meek was again successful with the conversion.
After a further penalty had been awarded to the away side, the referee reduced the Welsh All Blacks to fourteen men, when number eight David Griggs was shown the yellow card.
With the Steelmen forwards having the grit between their teeth, they decided to take a scrum right in front of the posts. A big push by the pack was only stopped by an infringement by the hosts forwards and the referee awarded a penalty try and showed a further yellow card to the home side’s prop Elis Hopkins.
Against the run of play and down to thirteen men, Neath soon struck back. From a scrum just outside the away side’s twenty-two, fly half Steff Williams found a gap in the Ebbw Vale defence and burst through to touch down unopposed. Williams also added the two points.
Further changes were made to the away side line up when Jakub Malecki came on for Curtis Gregory and half backs Roy Harris and Evan Lloyd replaced Jon Evans and Kieran Meek.
The final two changes by Ebbw coach Strange, saw Kobi Rees come on for his debut by replacing Chad Thomas and shortly after Ewan Bowden replaced winger Amir Jiwa Walji.
However, the Steelmen were soon reduced to fourteen men, when after some good play by the Neath backs saw the ball passed to the winger, who was unable to collect the ball. The referee adjudged winger Bowden had pushed the player off the ball and showed the replacement the yellow card.
After a lull in play, the away side stepped it up in the final stages of the match. After winning more penalties in the hosts half, from a line out the ball made its way out to the wing, and hooker Francis was on hand to barge over the line to score his team’s fifth try of the game. Replacement outside half Evan Lloyd sent a superb conversion through the middle of the uprights from the touchline.
Despite the best efforts of both sides, no further points were added to the scoreline.
Full Time: Neath 17 Ebbw Vale 35
Tries: Jon Evans, Ieuan Morris, Rhys Francis (2), Penalty try
Conv: Kieran Meek (3), Evan Lloyd (1)
After the game, we caught up with flyhalf Kieran Meek. Kieran acknowledged the game was scrappy at times and the squad wanted a better performance. However, he was happy the team were able to come away from the Gnoll with the bonus point victory. Kieran finished by saying the squad will reassess during training next week and then look forward to the Bridgend game next Saturday.
Ebbw Vale’s next game is home against Bridgend RFC at the Ciner Glass Community Stadium on Saturday 28 October 2023 with a 2:30pm kick off.
Written by Alex Kinsella-Evans