Ebbw Advance to the Next Round
The Steelmen progressed to the last eight of the Premiership Cup after overcoming a spirited Neath side to win 40 -19 at the Gnoll.
The Ebbw Vale forwards started the game, just like they finished the game against Cardiff. After a penalty was awarded to the away side just inside Neath’s half, a kick by fly half Keiran Meek, saw Ebbw have a line out inside The Welsh All Blacks twenty-two. From the resulting lineout, the forwards set up a maul, which the referee adjudged to have been stopped illegally on the try line and awarded the Steelmen a penalty try.
The visitors soon added to their try tally when from a lineout in the home side’s twenty-two, a rolling maul ended with number eight Chad Thomas scoring a try. Outside half Keiran Meek successfully added the extra two points.
From a penalty at the scrum in The Welsh All Blacks twenty-two, some quick thinking by Ebbw’s scrum half Rory Harries, saw the former Pontypridd player take a quick tap and dive over the line for his side’s third try of the game. Meek again was successful with the conversion to extend Ebbw Vale’s lead to twenty one points.
The home side were soon back into the game, when from a lineout in the away sides twenty-two, Neath forwards applied some pressure on the visitor’s line. The ball made its way to the home side’s captain and centre Ryan Evans who crossed the line to score his sides first try. The Welsh All Blacks fly half Kristian Jones added the extras.
With the home side growing in confidence and putting Ebbw on the back foot, the forwards applied sustained pressure on the Steelmen’s try line, resulting in the pack grabbing a second try. Outside half Jones was unsuccessful with the conversion.
Some excellent play by Neath during a purple patch, saw the Welsh All Blacks narrow the deficit further. A clean break through the midfield inside their own half, saw the ball passed to former Steelmen Dafydd Howells who raced over the try line to score a very well taken try. Jones added the two points to make it a two-point game, going into the interval.
Half Time: Neath 19 Ebbw Vale 21
With the game on a knife edge at the start of the second half, both teams came out and took the game to each other.
Ebbw’s coach Jason Strange decided to replace the excellent Rory Harries and dependable Keiran Meek with Jonathan Evans and Evan Lloyd early on in the second half and the visitor’s fitness started to tell when after a good team move, flanker Gethin Williams barged over the line to score Ebbw Vale’s fourth try of the game. Marksman Lloyd successfully added the two points to put his team nine points ahead.
Further changes to the away side saw prop Owen Hatherill replace the outstanding Adam Court and Owen Conquer replace the hard-working Chad Thomas for his Steelmen debut.
Some pressure by the home side saw Neath attempt to go over the try line. However, the Steelmen’s defence held firm.
Ebbw’s prop Charley Kearns replaced the wonderful Morgan Davies and hooker Ieaun Morris came on for the ever-dependable Rhys Francis.
After Ebbw Vale were awarded a penalty in the Welsh All Black’s twenty-two, fly half Lloyd kicked to the corner. From the resulting lineout, replacement hooker Ieaun Morris kept up his good start to the season by scoring a try from a maul. However, outside half Lloyd was unable to add the extras on this occasion.
An excellent 50-22 by the away side’s Ethan Phillips kept the visitors on the front foot. With his team fourteen points ahead. Coach Strange brought on Ewan McIntyre for the thriving Curtis Gregory and Cameron Davies replaced the inspirational Dom Franchi, both making their debuts for the Steelmen.
With time running out, Neath tried playing out from inside their own half. With the ball being passed out wide, the Steelmen’s winger Carrick McDonough intercepted the ball and showed his speed to run half the pitch unopposed to score with the last play of the game. Fly half Lloyd brought the game to an end by successfully adding the two points.
Full Time: Neath 19 Ebbw Vale 40
Tries: Penalty try, Chad Thomas, Rory Harries, Gethin Williams, Ieuan Morris and Carrick McDonough.
Cons: Keiran Meek (2), Evan Lloyd (2)
The Steelmen return to league action at home against RGC next Saturday 30 September 2023 with a 2:30pm kick off.
Written by: Alex Kinsella-Evans