April 11th: Llandovery 13 Ebbw Vale 22

HOME > April 11th: Llandovery 13 Ebbw Vale 22

On a sunny but chilly afternoon in rural Carmarthenshire, Ebbw put last week’s disappointing loss to Bedwas firmly behind them with a gutsy performance to earn a hard-fought win at Church Bank to lift them to second place and keep their play-off ambitions alive.

Llandovery, fancying their chances after last week’s brilliant demolition of Carmarthen Quins, took an early lead when Steffan Marshall stroked a long range penalty. The Drovers looked threatening early on and were keen to throw the ball about. Ebbw’s Tom James was alert to one such putative attack and intercepted on half way to race home for the first try, easily converted by Iain Smerdon, kicking into a very strong south westerly wind. James scored Ebbw’s second following a great break by centre Carl Meyer who cut the Llandovery defence wide open before drawing the last man and timing his pass superbly. Smerdon again goaled to give his team a 14-3 lead, and there was more to come when, from a 5m line out following a penalty, the tried and trusted catch’n’Kynes worked a charm. Ebbw went in to the break leading 19-3 after what Head Coach Jason Strange later described as “our best half of rugby this season”.

The second forty began with the Steelmen straight onto the front foot, and an attacking scrum five promised a great opportunity for a bonus point try. As the drive came on, Mr Hennessey disapproved of something he spotted and penalised the Ebbw pack. This seemed to establish the pattern for what was an often frustrating second 40 minutes. Ebbw’s only score came from a Smerdon penalty after Lee Rees’s tries brough his team back to 19-13. Most people in the ground thought that Tom James had secured the extra point with a hat-trick try following another superb Meyer break, but the referee decided that James knocked forward in the act of scoring.

In fairness to Llandovery, they took every opportunity to run from deep and Ebbw had to defend for their lives at times. Superbly led by Damien Hudd, and with the back row of Clarke, Kyes and Keddie gaining the upper hand in the loose, and the RCR  front row combination (Ross-Chunky-Robbie) giving their opponents a very hard time in the scrum, the Steelmen were inspired to tackle their opponents to a standstill. It was fitting that the game concluded deep in Llandovery territory.

Two more points from the last two games, at Llanelli on Saturday and at Cardiff on the 24th, will guarantee Ebbw a play off place, a deserved reward for a remarkable first season back in the top flight of Welsh club rugby.

The  team was:

Dan Haymond, Owen Williams, Jordan Howells, Carl Meyer, Tom James; Iain Smerdon, Chris Thomas; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Rob Sevenoaks; Damien Hudd (capt) Ashley Sweet; Rhys Clarke, Ronny Kynes, Harrison Keddie. Bench: John Lavender, Rhys Francis, Luke Leddington, Cameron Regan, Gareth Rusby-Davies, Rhys Downes, Dai Langdon, Tom Watkins. 

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