Ebbw did enough in a rousing first 40 minutes to take the spoils in this bruising Boxing Day derby, defeating Bedwas by 24 points to 10.
Playing into the windy southern edge of Storm Eva, Ebbw kept things tight early on to keep Bedwas under pressure. After a series of promising attacks was thwarted illegally, Mr Hennessy sent one of the Bedwas forwards to the sin bin and Ebbw capitalised, with the tried and tested Catch’n’Kynes paying off.
Bedwas won the ball at the ensuing restart but Ebbw’s centre Nathan Preece pounced on a loose pass and burst free, making 6o metres before off-loading to Jared Rosser who was on hand to make the score, and had the alacrity to go behind the posts, giving Dai Langdon a better chance of converting into the gale and making the score 14-0 after 18 minutes.
Although reduced to 14 men, Bedwas now put together their first real threat of the afternoon and, after a series of short drive close to the Ebbw line, were rewarded when lock Geraint Edmonds barged his way over. Richard Powell added the two and closed the gap further with a penalty that brought the score to 14-10.
Bedwas looked to mount a late attack, but Ebbw defended aggressively, pushing the visitors back and forcing them to attempt passesunder pressure. Nathan Preece again latched on and began a sweeping move upfield that saw backs and forwards combining superbly to free Dan Haymond who touced down. Langdon’s conversion missed, but his side turned around 20-10 to the good, with the promise of the big wind behind them after the break.
The second half was attritional fare. Bedwas bashed away, and Ebbw defended magnificently with Damien Hudd, Harri Keddie and Rhys Clarke – who had stepped up to second row on Ashley Sweet’s departure – always oustanding, and nobody else far behind. The only scores of the half came from Iain Smerdon’s two penalties, but Ebbw so nearly bagged the bonus when they broke out of their own 22m area via a 70m run by Jared Rosser who was chased and hauled down just short by Richard Powell – in fairness, a superb effort by the Blaina man.
The game ended 24-10 to the Steelmen, maintaining a winning league run, and opening up a handy 7-point gap over the Bridgefield boys. Man of the Match was Ebbw’s Rhys Clarke.
Finally, many thanks and congratulations to Mr Neil Hennessy, officiating in his final match. We all think we know better than the man in the middle but, without him, there’d be no match, so we send our very best wishes to Neil for the future – there’ll always be a warm welcome for you at ECP!