Loss at Ebbw

Ebbw Vale 20 Llanelli 7

Flanker Lloyd  Evans pounced for a crucial 70th try to earn Ebbw Vale victory over a stubborn Llanelli outfit in the wind and rain at Eugene Cross Park. The win keeps the Steelmen in touch with the Principality Premiership leading group of Merthyr, Pontypridd and Cardiff.

Evans’crucial score came as Vale pressed inside the visitors’22 and the ball was driven through to the line for him to win the race for the touchdown.

But the real star of the match was outstanding Ebbw Vale left wing who snapped up a brace of unconverted tries in the first half. Home outside half Rhys Jones  kicked a penalty and also converted the try by Evans.

Llanelli’s ponts came from a try by  strong centre Jonny Lewis which was converted by outside half Ioan Hughes.

Llanelli were hoping to make it three wins in a row on their visit to Eugene Cross Park and move further away from the Principality Premiership table relegation zone having beaten Bridgend 35-3 at home and then thrashed crisis-hit Neath 69-12 at The Gnoll on 7 December. However, Nathan Hart and his men knew they faced a severe test against the fourth-placed Steelmen who ran off 43-10 winners when the sides last met at Parc y Scarlets on 1 September.

Rain swept across the field as Ebbw Vale kicked off with the gusting wind at their backs. They soon got  the scoreboard ticking when a fluent passing movement down the left ended in dangerous wing Fricker crossing in the corner for a 3rd minute unconverted try.

Back came Llanelli with some sustained forward drives to the home line after gaining a good field position inside the 22 metres area after being awarded a penalty but they lost momentum when they conceded a penalty themselves. 

There were plenty of errors in the difficult playing conditions but Fricker was celebrating a second unconverted try in the 17th minute after polished centre Carl Meyer speared a fine pass for him to cross in the corner.

Outside half Jones put Vale 13-0 ahead by kicking a 28 metres penalty goal but they were reduced to 14 men on the half hour when skipper Ashley Sweet was sent to the sin-bin after incurring the wrath of the referee at a maul near his own line. Llanelli took advantage and centre Lewis, who had threatened the home line with a good solo break which should have produced a touchdown a few minutes earlier, charged over for a 33rd minute try which Hughes converted. The score stayed at 13-7 at the interval.

Passes invariably went astray as the monsoon-line conditions continued early in the second half but Llanelli enjoyed most of the territorial advantage as Vale battled against dogged opponents and the wind and rain in their faces. Their big breakthrough came with that crucial Evans try 10 minutes from the end and when Jones slotted the conversion the joy of home supporters was obvious.

Report courtesy of Geoff Champion,for Walesonline.

Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3