….courtesy of SWEP
A DEPLETED Llanelli had no answer to Ebbw Vale at Parc y Scarlets, with the Gwent side handing out a harsh lesson to their youthful opponents.
East certainly proved better than West from first to last, with the Steelmen dominating all aspects of forward play and their backs, spearheaded by centre Jordan Howells, running and handling with pace and deception.
And, to the delight of their large band of travelling supporters, the Steelmen clinched a Principality Premiership play-off spot as they cantered to an eight-try win.
By their own admission Llanelli, who have been blighted by injuries to key and experienced personnel for much of the season, are already looking ahead to next season.
In bright sunshine both sides were ready to spread the ball, but the first points came from the boot of Ebbw fly-half Ian Smerdon with a straight 25-metre penalty after seven minutes.
It soon became 10-0 when Llanelli misjudged a high Smerdon kick to allow scrum-half Chris Thomas to dummy through and race in under the posts.
Llanelli took a long time to get anywhere near the Ebbw line and when they did they found it hard to find any gaps in the face of great defence led by skipper Damien Hudd and the hugely promising No. 8 Harrison Keddie
A yellow card for Smerdon for not releasing let Llanelli back into the game but No. 8 Craig Price dropped the ball yards from the line.
It proved costly as minutes later James dashed clear from halfway to send centre Carl Meyer away for a second try, which he also converted.
Llanelli fly-half Billy McBryde missed his second kick at goal before prop John Lavender was driven over at a line-out to put the visitors 22-0 up at the break. It took just eight minutes to claim the bonus point when a long pass from hooker Matthew Williams let Tom James slip through wide out.
And from there on it was men against boys as tries from wing Owen Williams, replacement scrum-half Rhys Downes, lock Ashley Sweet and replacement prop Luke Leddington took the hugely Steelemen home in a canter.
Ebbw Vale — Tries: C. Thomas, C. Meyer, J. Lavender, T. James, O. Williams, R. Downes, A. Sweet, L. Leddington. Cons: I. Smerdon (2), C. Meyer. Pen: I. Smerdon.
Llanelli: J James (N Morris 40); S Pearce, M Pearce (J Rogers h/t), S Morris, R Thomas; B McBryde, D Smith (S Tudor 55); R Jones (R Fawcett 62), T Myhill (T Davies 55), G Havard (S Martin h/t), A Powell (capt), E Price, L Puckett (T Lloyd 55), C Price (R Osborn 70), O Morgan
Ebbw Vale : D Haymond (D Langdon 65); O Williams, J Howells, C Meyer (G Williams 69), T James; I Smerdon, C Thomas (R Downes 59); J Lavender (K Bale 49), M Williams (R Francis 59), R Sevenoaks (L Leddington 59), D Hudd (capt), A Sweet, R Clarke (C Reagan 52), H Keddie (T Watkins 65), R Kynes
Referee: Gareth John (Chepstow)