Ebbw Vale bounced back from last week’s loss at Cross Keys with a thumping 6-try win over Newport. Both sides included players from other clubs, entering into the ‘developmental’ spirit of the Fosters Challenge Cup, and produced some quality entertainment, played out against the backdrop of Storm Barney’s wind and rain.
After early pressure by Newport, Ebbw seized the initiative and a great break by Jared Rosser set up a try for his wing partner Owen Williams, converted by Simon Veall (Oakdale RFC), who soon added a penalty to give his side a 10-0 advantage. The Steelmen maintained their efforts and built phases, allowing hooker Joe Franchi to find a gap in the visitors’ defences. Veall again converted and Ebbw were 18-0 up as the first quarter closed.
Veall was next to cross the line for Ebbw, as he ran a great support line to latch on to Joe Bartlett’s superb pass. His conversion took the Steelmen well clear at 26-0, and the outside half was on the money again, taking the scoring pass from the rampaging Cameron Regan to make it 32-0. At this stage, it was impossible to keep Veall out of the action and, after his forwards drove fully 50 metres through patient phase-building, his excellent cut-out pass led to another try, this time by captain Dan Haymond. Veall converted from the touchline, and it was 40-0 with not even 30 minutes played.
Newport at last found themselves in a good attacking position and a well-worked lineout drive saw Jack Goodey claim his side’s first (and only) points, making the score 40-6 at half time.
The talk at the interval was of how many points the wind had been worth to Ebbw and whether or not the Black and Ambers would utilise it to the same effect. They didn’t, and it was the Steelmen who scored the only points of the half, when referee Mr Bessant awarded a penalty try as Newport infringed under pressure from the dominant home scrummage. Ebbw own 48-6, picking up a very handy 5 points that lifted them to the top of Pool 3.
Ebbw’s team was Dan Haymoond (capt), Owen Williams, Srdan Majkic (Rogerstone RFC), Jordan Howells, Jared Rosser; Simon Veall (Oakdale RFC), Jac Jonathan (Newbridge RFC); Ian George, Joe Franchi, Lloyd Bridges (Penallta RFC); Rhys Clarke, Joe Bartlett; Cameron Regan, Jake Conway (Glamorgan Wanderers RFC), Michael Jones (Dowlais RFC). Bench: Rhys Francis, Luke Leddington, William Morgan (Usk RFC), Craig Powell (Caldicot RFC), Ethan Doyle, Chris Thomas, Iain Smerdon, Tom Watkins.
Man of the Match: Simon Veall
Ebbw’s replacement hooker, Rhys Francis, was carried off in the second half with what appeared to be a significant knee injury. Club secretary Ian James has since been in contact with Rhys, who would like to thank all those who have enquired as to his well-being. We will know more once club surgeon Rhys Thomas has completed his assessment in the next day or so.