Steelmen get the bonus point win
Report by Alex Kinsella-Evans
Fifth placed Ebbw Vale beat tenth placed Pontypridd with a bonus point victory after making seven changes to the starting line-up that last featured against Carmarthen.
Straight from the kick off Ebbw were on the front foot. With the line out improved, the ever present Dylan Bartlett stole a Pontypridd line out in the away sides half. The ball made its way out to the inform Ethan Phillips, who handed off the covering defence and tried to feed the ball to the supporting Carrick McDonough. However, the ball did not go to hand.
With a ruck in the Ponty half, the away side’s number eight Joe Miles picked up the ball and ran through the centre only to be halted by the covering home side defence. The ball made its way to Pontypridd outside half Joseph Scrivens, who kicked the ball in behind the Steelmen backline. Scrum half Jon Evans covered and took the tackle. With the Ebbw forwards going through the phases in their own twenty-two, the away side turned the ball over and against the run of play scored the first try of the game when the ball made its way out to the dangerous Niko Matawalu, who with two Ebbw Vale defenders tackling him passed the ball to the supporting Tom Devine to score the try. Fly half Scrivens added the two points.
A neat chip out of the Pontypridd twenty-two by outside half Scrivens saw referee Simon Mills award a yellow card to Ebbw’s number six Andrew Mann for a high tackle.
A kick into touch from their own twenty-two by the away side, resulted in a quickly taken lineout by the Steelmen. Outside half Kieran Meek took the ball forward before second row Dylan Bartlett and prop Dave Whiting made further inroads into the Ponty half. However, referee Mills awarded Ebbw a penalty. Flyhalf Meek scored his teams first points of the game.
With the home side having more of the ball and territory, referee Mills awarded another penalty to the Steelmen in the away side’s half when Ponty flyhalf Scrivens was offside. However, Meek hit the post on this occasion.
A further penalty awarded to Ebbw saw outside half Meek kick to touch in the Pontypridd half. From the lineout the home side forwards set up a maul. The ball was passed out to the backs, who were tackled, With the forwards making ground in front of the goal posts. A quick pass by scrum half Jon Evans to outside centre Ethan Phillips, saw the centre go on the outside of his man only to be tackled just short of the try line. Some quick thinking by the experienced Jon Evans, saw the scrum half pick up the ball and dive onto the try line for Ebbw Vale’s first try of the game. Meek added the extras.
An excellent 50:22 kick by the influential Meek gave the Steelmen a Lineout in the Pontypridd twenty-two. The home side were rewarded further when referee Mills awarded a penalty with the last kick of the first half. Meek kicked the penalty to take his team into the lead 13-10 at half time.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 13-10 Pontypridd
Within the first few minutes of the second half, the referee went to the screen to review a high tackle by Ebbw winger Amir Jiwa Walji. After discussing with his fellow officials, referee Mills awarded the winger a yellow card.
Some good play by the home side forwards led to Meek putting in a clever cross kick for winger McDonough to expertly catch the ball, draw a player and pass to flanker Gethin Williams. With a lot to do, Williams held of the tackle, used his strength and did well to keep his feet out of touch and scored in the corner. Meek was successful with the conversation from the touchline.
Coach Jason Strange made the first two substitutions of the game after fifty-five minutes when props Charley Kearns and Harry Drane replaced the ever-dependable Luke Garrett and Dave Whiting.
A swift back’s move led to Meek throw a long pass to Phillips, who in acres of space used his pace to slice through the Ponty defence. However, the play came to nothing.
From a scrum just inside the away side’s half, some quick passing by the Ebbw Vale backs, saw Phillips, Richards and Jiwa Walji make inroads into the Pontypridd twenty-two. Referee Mills awarded the Steelmen a penalty for not rolling away. The home side kicked to the corner. From the line out, the forwards set up a maul, which resulted in co-captain Joe Franchi crash over for his side’s third try of the game. Meek added the two points.
Further changes to the home side saw co-captain Rhys Francis replace try scorer Joe Franchi and back rowers Chad Thomas and Lewis Young replace hard working Gethin Williams and Ryan Jenkins. Moments later half backs Matthew Flanagan and Evan Lloyd replaced try scorer Jon Evans and the outstanding Kieran Meek.
With ten minutes left in the game, the away side’s captain and former Ebbw Vale second row Kristian Parker was shown a yellow card to see out the game in the sin bin.
The last substitution of the game for the home side saw a debut for Amir Saleh replace the threatening Amir Jiwa Walji
Using the man advantage Ebbw scored their fourth try of the game and claim the bonus point when replacement Evan Lloyd superbly saw space behind the Pontypridd defence and put a clever grubber kick in for speedster Carrick McDonough to race through, collect the ball and score the bonus point try. Lloyd hit the uprights with the conversation to see the game end with the Steelmen collecting the five points.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 32-10 Pontypridd
Spirit Of Wales Distillery man of the match: Kieran Meek
After the game we spoke to fullback Morgan Richards. Discussing the game, Morgan acknowledged it was a tough effort from the whole squad and believed the team worked hard from the first minute. He finished by advising it was not pretty during the first half hour but during the second half the team really showed that it does not matter who they play against, they can play good rugby.