On a freezing night in Blaenau Gwent, Ebbw and Aberavon served up a match every bit as gripping and entertaining as last season’s 32-30 win that took the Steelmen to the play-offs.
Aberavon opened the scoring when outside half Stef Williams kicked a penalty. Soon afterwards, Ebbw’s outside half, Josh Lewis, limped off to be replaced by Dai Langdon and, after 15 minutes, it was Langdon who found himself lining up a conversion attempt after Ronny Kynes burst through the Wizards’ defence to score. His successful kick made it 7-3, and heralded a period of intense pressure by the home side who should have scored after Aberavon infringed repeatedly at a series of 5m scrums. The penalty try didn’t come and, ultimately, Ebbw lost the ball and the seige was lifted.
The score at half time was 7-3, but the visitors came out with renewed vigour at the start of the second period and Ebbw’s defence had to be organised and solid – which it was, close in and wide out. Aberavon’s only reward was a second penalty by Williams for 7-6. Ebbw were unlucky, again, not to earn a penalty try after a driving maul seemed destined for the goal line, only to be stooped by foul play but, with both sides redued to 14 temporarily, patient phase play released Nathan Preece for a score in the corner. Langdon’s conversion drifted agonisingy wide and, at 12-6, the game was still anyone’s.
Aberavon again hurled everything at Ebbw, but the hosts’ tackling was outstanding, with the rejuvenated Cameron Regan, Man of the Match Joe Franchi and Rhys Clarke always in the vanguard. When Ebbw broke out, Aberavon infringed and Langdon put the penalty between the posts to give his side a 15-6 lead with 5 minutes to go. Aberavon finished the game on the attack, but could find no way through, around or over the magnificent Ebbw defence – two games so far in Tier 1, and not a try conceded. Things are looking up for the defending Champions!
The Ebbw team was:
Dan Haymond, Nathan Preece, Gareth Maule, Dominic Franchi, James Lewis; Josh Lewis, Rob Lewis; Ian George, Joe Franchi, Rob Sevenoaks; Jonathan Davies, Damien Hudd (capt); Rhys Clarke, Ronny Kynes, Cameron Regan. Bench: Jonny Bowen, Ross Jones, Gethin Robinson, Ashley Sweet, Lance Randall, Jack Goodey, Dai Jones, Dai Langdon.
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Noson digon oer i rewi cathod oedd hi ym Mlaenau Gwent, ond pob clod i’r ddau dîm am ddarparu gêm gyffrous i godi’r calon a hybu’r gwaed.
Sgoriodd Aberafan ar ôl dwy funud, trwy gic cosb gan faswr Stef Williams, ond daeth Glynebwy’n fwyfwy i mewn i’r gêm a sgoriodd Ronny Kynes gais ar ôl chwarter awr, gyda Dai Langdon – eilydd i Josh Lewis oedd wedi gadael gydag anaf i’w linyn y gar – yn trosi. Dylai Glynebwy wedi ymestyn eu mantais ar ôl cyfnod pan oedd yr ymelwyr o dan sang mewn cyfres o sgrymiau 5m o’u llinell. Ond, yn lle cais neu gais cosb efallai i Lynebwy, bu Aberafan yn ennill y bêl a rhyddhau’r pwysedd.
7-3 oedd y sgôr ar yr egwyl, ond 7-6 oedd hi’n gynnar yn yr ail hanner ar ôl i Stef Williams drosi cic cosb ac, a dweud y gwir, roedd ei dîm ar y troed blaen ac yn taflu popeth posibl at amddiffynwyr Glynebwy, oedd yn drefnus ac yn ffyrnig!
Roedd gan flaenwyr Glynebwy mantais amlwg yn y sgrymiau a’r sgarmesoedd ac roedd gan y gwesteiwyr achos da i ennill cais cosb ar ôl i Aberafan rwystro sgarmes symudol yn anghyfreithlon. Dim ots – yn fuan iawn roedd Gwŷr y Dur yn dathlu cais gan Nathan Preece ac, er bod trosiad Langdon yn aflwyddianus, seliodd e’r fuddugoliaeth yn hwyr yn y gêm gyda chic cosb.
15-6 oedd hi i Lynebwy, gwobrwy am safon eu hamddiffyn ar hyd yr 80 munud. J oe Franchi oedd Seren y Gêm, ac roedd Cameron Regan yn ei ail gêm y tymor, yn amlwg iawn unwaith eto.