Quick quiz question: before today’s game, when did Ebbw last fail to score in a league match? The answer will come at the end of this report.
Cross Keys were deserved winners of a very hard fought, physical contest. It wasn’t a glorious spectacle for the neutrals watching on S4C, and it was certainly scrappy and error-strewn, but you couldn’t fault the effort of either team.
There was doubt about whether the match would take place at all, with pitch inspections at 10:30, 12:00 and 13:30 when referee Craig Evans and the two captains agreed to play.
The first 30 minutes belonged to Ebbw, at least territorially. Crucially, the Steelmen failed to score during this dominant period, though Iain Smerdon missed a penalty and Rhys Downes just lost the chase to the corner following his own kick ahead. Although Keys lost prop Richard Cornock for repeated scrummage offences, Ebbw could not make the advantage count and it was Keys who took the lead when, on their first trip into the Ebbw half, Ethan Davies nailed a three-pointer. That was the half time score, with Ebbw rueing their failure to capitalise on territorial and numerical advantages.
Keys returned after the break with renewed vigour and put the hosts under sustained pressure. Their big back row won the breakdown battle and they managed to disrupt the normally metronomic Ebbw line out. They extended their lead when patient phase play released full back James Cory-Redden to finish out on the left. Former Steelman Davies converted to make it 10-0. And that was pretty much it, in all honesty. Both teams got into scoring positions but good defence and some more errors meant that there was no more scoring. Ebbw opted to take their penalties as touch kicks or scrums until late on when replacement outside half Dai Langdon missed a shot at goal that would have gained a losing bonus. On another day, Keys’ choice to infringe inside their own 22m area on numerous occasions might have seen more yellow cards brandished, but, in truth, that’s not why Ebbw lost. Cross Keys held out and were delighted with the victory that prevented an Ebbw double and lifted them to fourth place in the Premiership.
The Ebbw team was:
Dan Haymond, Wes Cunliffe, Adam Jones, Carl Meyer, Owen Williams; Iain Smerdon, Rhys Downes; John Lavender, Mathew WIlliams, Gethin Robinson; Damien Hudd (Capt), Ashley Sweet; Cameron Regan, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson. Replacements: Ross Jones, Rhys Francis, Rob Sevenoaks, Rhys Clarke, Josh Jacas, Chris Thomas, Tom Hiscock, Dai Langdon.
- Try: James Cory-Redden
- Con: Ethan Davies
- Pen: Ethan Davies
Ebbw Vale Man of the Match: Dan Haymond
(Ebbw’s last scoreless league match was a 0-32 defeat at Cardiff on March 9th, 2010.)