Ebbw got the new year off to a winning start with a bonus point victory over 4th placed Cardiff. As ever, the foundation of the Steelmen’s success was the tremendous pack, which set out its stall from kick off and carried on for the next eighty minutes. It was fitting that the game marked the official opening of the Clive Burgess Terrace and that Susan and family were guests at the club, as this was the kind of ferocious forward onslaught by the Ebbw pack that the peerless Clive relished.
It took just 10 minutes for Ebbw’s forward superiority to gain reward. Instead of taking shots at goal, skipper Damien Hudd ordered Iain Smerdon to aim for touch, and his outside half gained the Steelmen a great foothold in Cardiff’s 22. The catch and drive came on and Gethin Robinson scored the try.
Cardiff fly half Dean Gunter registered his team’s first points a few minutes later when Ebbw strayed offside from the restart. However, the home team were in no mood to allow their opponents back in to the game, and another line out in Cardiff’s 22m resulted in the ball going wide along the three quarters, for Dan Haymond to finish and make it 10-3.
Although Gunter added a second penalty, Ebbw struck back quickly with tremendous scrummaging setting up a chance for John Lavender to crash over on the left wing. Iain Smerdon’s excellent conversion gave the hosts a 17-6 half time advantage.
Skipper Damien Hudd, as ever leading from the front, bagged the bonus point try early in the second half, executing a perfect blindside sneak after his fellow forwards had battered away at the Cardiff line. A few minutes later, Ebbw’s supporters were in raptures of joy when a perfectly managed line out drive led to the beloved “catch’n’Kynes” that is becoming every bit as effective in the Premiership as it was in Divison One and the Championship.
Cardiff hit back with a score by centre Jack Phillips that Gunter goaled but, yet again, Ebbw bounced back with a great break by Ashley Sweet that continued with the ball swung right for Wes Cunliffe to turn on the gas and cross for his team’s sixth try. Smerdon added the two, and it was 36-11. Harry Davies managed a late consolation try for the Blue and Blacks, which Gunter converted to end it at 36-18.
The Ebbw team was: Dan Haymond, Nathan Preece, Carl Mayer, Adam Jones, Tom James; Iain Smerdon, Rhys Downes; John Lavender, Rhys Francis, Gethin Robinson; Damian Hudd (Capt), Ashley Sweet; Cameron Regan, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson.
Bench: Ross Jones, Johnny Bowen, Robert Sevenoaks, Rhys Clarke, Josh Jacas, Chris Thomas, Tom Hiscock, Wes Cunliffe.
Ebbw Vale – Tries: Gethin Robinson, Dan Haymond, John Lavender,
Damien Hudd, Ronny Kynes, Wes Cunliffe.
Cons: Iain Smerdon (3)
Cardiff – Tries: Jack Phlllips, Harry Davies
Cons: Dean Gunter
Pens: Dean Gunter (2)
Man of the Match: Cameron Regan