Steelmen win a tough Gwent derby.
Ebbw Vale come out on top for the second time this season in the battle of the Gwent derby.
An early penalty for the home side by outside half Evan Lloyd hit the upright. Winger Carrick McDonough was unable to gather the rebound.
With the away side forwards coming more into the game, Newport fly half Will Reed slotted a penalty for the first points of the game.
Further penalties awarded to both sides came to nothing until the Steelmen’s prolific points scorer Lloyd kicked a penalty. No further points were added to the first half, making the game all square at half time.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 3-3 Newport
Early in the second half Newport were handed a late Christmas present when a fortunate bounce of the ball from a clearance kick was touched in flight and resulted in the away side’s Ryan Woodman scoring the first try of the game. Outside half Reed was unable to add the extra’s.
With the home side seeing more of the ball, Ebbw were originally awarded a scrum and then a penalty, with the referee dishing out a yellow card to the Newport number four Craig Hudd.
Two penalties for the away side in the home twenty-two saw them initially decline the three points. However, after not being able to take advantage the referee awarded a further penalty, which Reed successfully converted to put the away side eight’s points ahead.
With the home side’s forwards applying pressure in the Newport twenty-two, a superb long miss pass by the home side’s number ten Evan Lloyd provided space for Lewis Young to put Morgan Richards in at the corner. Lloyd magnificently kicking the conversion from the touchline.
Further penalties to both sides came to nothing. However, with the home side in their own half, a smartly timed break by Lloyd from just outside the team’s twenty-two sees the Steelmen’s number ten show a clean pair of heels and pass the ball to speedster McDonough who shows a turn of pace to go over the line for a well worked try. Lloyd was unable to add the extras on this occasion.
From a ruck, a kick of the ball by the home side’s superb scrum half Jonathan Evans saw the ball roll over the try line. The covering Newport player passed the ball inside to a supporting player who dropped it and inside centre Dom Franchi was alert and dived on the ball to score the home side’s third try. Lloyd adding the extras.
In the closing minutes the referee awarded a penalty to Newport in the Steelmen’s half, which was kicked to the corner. From the resulting lineout the away sides forwards formed a rolling maul and crashed over for their second try of the game. Outside half Reed successfully adding the two points.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 22-18 Newport
Distillery of Wales MOTM: Jonathan Evans
Speaking with Ebbw Vale head coach Jason Strange after the game, Jason was really pleased with the result. He said any win against Newport is a good result and without putting in the best performance, it was pleasing to find a way to win. He was happy that the team collected the four points, in what was an important game for his side.
Reflecting on the win, the home side`s co-captain Rhys Francis was pleased to get the win over Newport. Rhys thought the team struggled during the first half. Even though the scrum was dominant, the team were not able to obtain any first phase play and did not turn up in terms of the attack. However, Rhys believed the defence was really solid and that showed with the team’s character and resilience and the team dug deep to come away with the victory.
Rhys believed there is work to do with the lineout, If the team can get that right, the team can get some more first phase ball. The squad have been working on the more physical side of the game and it showed in the second half.
We also spoke to the Newport captain Matt O’Brien. Matt thought it was a really close game. The first half he felt the away side played ok. However, they did not get the rewards they deserved.
In the second half, Matt thought the team capitulated slightly, which resulted in a lot of errors. This played into Ebbw Vale`s hands and they capitalised on it.
Finally, Matt added he believed the team could not make the amount of errors they did and come out on the right side of the score board, they chased the game, tried to do a little bit too much, and the best side won on the day.
Match report by Alex Kinsella- Evans
Images by Curtis Thomas Photography