Six months ago to the day, the two sides met at Parc-y-Scarlets under what the report described as a ‘Caribbean sky’, and Ebbw were convincing winners, 51-0 in a victory that sealed a play-off place. It was a different story this time, though, with a vastly improved Llanelli edging out the Steelmen who, temporarily at least, seem to have lost their way.
It all started so well for Ebbw, as they built a 10-0 lead. David Williams pounced for the first try, capitalising on a rolling maul from a line out. Iain Smerdon converted superbly, and later added a penalty. Other chances came: a five metre attacking scrum in which the ball never appeared to enter the tunnel, letting Llanelli off the hook; a Ronny Kynes touchdown ruled out for a foot in touch; and another turned down for alleged crossing. On another day, and with a little more luck, Ebbw could have gone in well ahead… but it wasn’t another day, and Llanelli pounced twice late in the half, as that old cliche, the bouncing ball catching the defence off guard, came true. Former Ebbw favourite Josh Lewis scored and converted, then Justin James made it 14-10, which was how it stayed at the interval.
The second half saw Ebbw winning the lion’s share of possession, through a strong scrum and a lineout functioning much better than against Cross Keys last week. There were several clean breaks that could – and perhaps should – have led to scores, but all the possession and territory couldn’t be turned into points and Llanelli, who always looked threatening when they moved the ball, stretched their lead with a well-made try by Dion Jones, who also converted. At 22-10, Ebbw had it all to do, but the pressure paid off as Mathew Williams crossed and Smerdon goaled to make it 22-18. More chances came: it looked as if a try had been scored, only for the assistant referee to rule a foot in touch. “Send it upstairs!” advised one Ebbw supporter, but such luxuries don’t exist at our level, and the game ended with Ebbw pressing hard for the score that wouldn’t come.
Chris Levesley; David Williams, Dominic Franchi, Adam Jones, Ryan Gardner; Iain Smerdon, Tom Edwards; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Gethin Robinson; Damien Hudd (capt), Ashley Sweet; Cameron Regan, Ronny Kynes, Ethan Doyle. Bench: Joseph Franchi, Ian George, Luke Leddington, Harrison Keddie, Luke Crocker, Chris Thomas, Steffan Jones, DanHaymond.