Ebbw emerged, glowing bright and victorious, from the gloom of a wet and windy afternoon at the seaside, having inflicted on the Wizards their first home defeat of the season.
The conditions – though not the pitch which stood up very well – were exceptionally difficult, with a gale howling down the ground from the West, often driving sheets of rain into the faces of those playing towards the covered terrace. It was no coincidence that 32 of the game’s 34 points were scored at the scoreboard end. With the tempest at their backs, Ebbw dominated the first half, Dai Langdon keeping the hosts pinned back in their own territory with some fine kicking. It was the outside half who scored the Steelmen’s first points with a penalty after five minutes. Ebbw took the game to Aberavon, with Jordan Howells and David Williams making superb runs deep into the home defence. The pack, too, was dominant and Aberavon frequently infringed in response, eventually earning a yellow card for lock Sam Williams. Ebbw took advantage, and Chris Thomas joined in a line out drive to claim the first try of the game.
It was over half an hour before the Wizards defied the elements and made it into Ebbw’s 22, but a superb storming run from Harri Keddie, from the base of the scrum, took the Steelmen back up field and, with the pack on top, Cameron Regan claimed the second try (though others have attributed it to Harrison Keddie). Langdon added two and, with the final play of the half, dropped a goal to take his team into the break leading 18-0.
At half time, the debate raged about how many points the conditions had been worth: by the “DNG Wind Rating”, it was calculated at about 10.
It took Aberavon 12 minutes to get on the board, Stefan Andrews crossing wide out after patient phase play. The difficult conversion fell short, and it was Dai Langdon who was next to score, claiming a 2-pointer when the Wizards conceded yet another infringement as Ebbw’s scrum – with the front row of Ian George, Mathew Williams and Gethin Robinson really on song – proved influential.
Needing 2 tries to win, Aberavon threw it all at Ebbw, and with 2 men in the bin and a penalty try awarded for illegal scrummaging, they brought the score bucket 20-14 – but this was already deep into injury time and Ebbw battled superbly, ultimately winning a scrum penalty of their own which Chris Thomas cleverly tapped, before passing to Langdon who ran into touch to end the game.
This was a fantastic performance by Ebbw, brimful of the commitment, organisation and skill that have become the club’s trademark over recent seasons. Huge credit too, to Aberavon – a “proper rugby club” – who also put everything into their performance and were gracious in defeat. For Ebbw, next up it’s Bridgend on Saturday, before the mini-Ashes series of three successive encounters with Bedwas. Finally, a kind word for Mr Rhys Thomas who did his best to referee sympathetically in conditions, which were, to exercise litotes, somewhat challenging for everyone.
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