After Clodagh came Desmond, but unlike his female predecessor, Desmond brought wind – and very strong wind – but no rain to affect the afternoon’s rugby proceedings. As at Aberavon, Ebbw dominated the first half but this time into the gale. The Steelmen’s pack was on top in every facet of the game and the backs looked dangerous and hungry for work. Yet, despite domination, Ebbw took 20 minutes to register their first points when after a patient build up through the phases, Ronny Kynes was driven over by his fellow forwards.
Bridgend mounted their first serious attack of the game, and a penalty chance for Joe Scrivens went wide, but, just five minutes later, hooker Dale Rogers popped up in the left wing to cross and equal the scores. Ebbw bounced back immediately and were ahead within a minute when Dan Haymond caught his own delicate chip ahead and fed Nathan Preece who was too powerful for the Ravens’ defenders and burst over from 22m. It got even better for Ebbw though, when a drive from a line out, after Bridgend conceded two successive penalties, saw Gethin Robinson touching down. Bridgend are a side much improved from the one that lost to Ebbw in the season’s opener at the Brewery Field, and their pacy backs put together an excellent move with the half’s last play, prop Nicky Boyce crossing at the posts for Scrivens to convert and send the sides in at 18-14 to Ebbw.
At the start of the second half, Ebbw’s pack put Bridgend under tremendous scrummage pressure. Referee Mr Jones deemed that the Ravens were illegally preventing Ebbw’s progress towards the line and carded Boyce. Bridgend opted to play without a wing rather than reduce their struggling pack, a fact spotted by Chris Thomas and Dai Langdon who combined to send Dan Haymond over for the bonus point try. Langdon goaled to make it 26-14 and, within 5 minutes, excellent work by Ethan Doyle led to a perfectly timed entry by Jordan Howells that took the score to 34-14 with Langdon’s conversion.
Ebbw were well on top against the 14 Ravens, but the visitors were back in the match when they capitalised on two bits of good fortune. Firstly, Ryan Evans intercepted superbly to race in from over 50m, then, following what seemed to be a huge knock in the tackle, Mr Jones waved play on and Owen Watkins scored. With Scrivens converting both, the never-say-die visitors were very much back in the game at 34-30.
Ebbw realised that there was no need to over-elaborate or play expansively and opted for safety first. A penalty kick to the corner set up a catch’n’drive, and Chris Thomas threw in a lovely blind side dart to take the game for Ebbw, 40-30.
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