A wonderful afternoon's rugby at a windy Eugene Cross Park saw Ebbw Vale overcome the self styled Welsh All Blacks by 29 points to 10.
Perhaps a more accurate description would be Ebbw Vale 29 Neil Ballard 10, as quite frankly Neath got their points from persistent help from the dreadful official. Does he know any of the laws at the scrummage? 90 degrees, binding, popping up etc etc.
Let's not take anything away, however, from a superb Ebbw Vale performance: rock solid tackling, chances taken opportunistically, and massive commitment. It's difficult to single out individual players in such a wonderful team display, but Simon Pengelly at 7 was immense and Aaron Bramwell makes ground every time he has the ball.
It's all the more sweet when you overcome such an over confident and arrogant bunch as Neath, who seem to think that you can just buy the league. To see 20 of their supporters stroll up the bank at half time in full expectation of our 22 being the centre of the 2nd half action is just too damned cocky for my liking, and belongs 20 miles further west. I don't dislike Neath as much as, say, Llanelli, but they don't half have a superior attitude to Ebbw Vale.
1st half pics
2nd half pics
James Lewis after his interception try sealed victory.
This is traditionally the time of year when county cricket news is slowest, but today we are expected to hear that Jamie Dalrymple is the new captain of Glamorgan.
It is probably the most predictable news of the Welsh autumn (well that and the WRU falling out with the regions (sic)), as it was widely rumoured when he signed a three year deal that the captaincy was the carrot dangled by Matt Maynard to tempt him from Middlesex.
Dalrymple (wiki) is a clever bloke and a talented cricketer no doubt, but really does need to start putting in some better, and more consistent, on field displays. Perhaps with him as skipper, we'll finally find out where he sees his game being at. In other words, is he a front line off spinner, front line bat, both or bit of both?
Time will tell.
Of course it wasn't that long ago, 18 months in fact, that Duncan Fletcher rated Dalrymple as England's best off spinning all rounder - remember this catch in Australia?
Perhaps I feel it is a good appointment. David Hemp was uninspiring and unimaginative in the field. In fairness, he looked like a guy who had had enough of trying to lead a struggling side.
Let's hope Dalrymple can give it some energy and use his connections in the game to beef up the squad.
Two of the bands who provided much of the signature music to many teenagers' years (as well as for another 2 decades for some of us) have just announced UK tours for 2009.
Disappointingly, both AC/DC and Metallica have failed to announce a single date in Wales, with Scotland getting a solitary show by the latter.
AC/DC (wiki) appear to have grossly underestimated demand to see them - apparently London's O2 Arena sold out in 12 minutes. That said, I don't know where this hysteria has come from, as I don't remember tickets being in this much demand in the band's prime. It seems to be the Led Zeppelin effect of prolonged absence increasing the band's mystique, cult following and influence. I wonder if these hidden fans will be so bowled over the new album, which I haven't heard yet?
Metallica (wiki) too are going through a significant revival with their latest offering Death Magnetic most certainly their best since The Black Album. Very much in the spirit of 1988's And Justice For All, DM is hard, heavy and well produced, and puts to bed the nightmare of 2003's St Anger. Sadly, the tour announced disappoints fans in Wales and the South West with a Wednesday night date in Birmingham the closest we get. I make that 12 years since the boys played in Wales.
Quite frankly, the demand is there for both bands to play some big stadia next summer. Although not ideal for watching or listening, at least the Twickenhams and Millenium Stadiums of this world give us a chance to get tickets. And just how good were Iron Maiden at the home of English rugby last year? Find out here.
Ebbw Vale pulled through after surviving a few scares at Church Bank. Not the most convincing of displays by the Steelmen, but another battling win on the road. A typical game of two halves dictated by the wind.
First half pics
Second half action Some video clips of various quality are here.
Llandovery away on Saturday - it must be Boxing Day.
No wait, the WRUseless have got it right for once and we play Pontypool at Xmas and Easter, so that the trip to Carmarthenshire is at a more sensible time (oh for the days of Abertillery and Tredegar at holiday time).
A visit to Church Bank has not always been a profitable one for us, and, even with good sides, we've often scraped a one score victory. Not helped by the fact that they often seem to have 1 or 2 Sospans to help them out for games versus Gwent sides. I expect the Dragons will lend us a few though...
After 6 weekends of the Welsh Premiership things appear to be settling down as far the table is concerned.
The Steelmen look pretty solid in 6th and that appears to be about right. Bridgend and Newport are above us, and we have no complaints about our defeats to them, whilst our victories over Pontypridd, Cross Keys and Cardiff enables us to look down the table at those.
I still think mid table is the best we can hope for this season, especially without experience like Boyd, Edwards, Shelbourne, George and Hunt. In fact, the way in which we seem to be picking up injuries may mean that 7th or 8th is the target.
Tougher games are ahead, After Saturday's potential banana skin at Llandovery, we face Neath at home, and then an away trip to Swansea. In fact, we've yet to play the top 3.
Amongst the better of the forthcoming tours of 2009, is the 'Priest Feast' triple header of Judas Priest, Megadeth and Testament heading for the Cardiff International Arena next February.
I saw Testament about 20 years ago as a support band and I wasn't that impressed then. Two decades of speed riffing and double bass drums is unlikely to have changed my mind about them.
Megadeth are a different proposition, and are more of a 'thinking man's' metal act, with lyrics about social and political issues, as well as the more typical death and destruction. Slightly bizarrely, I'm sure I read that main man Dave Mustaine is a born again Christian these days and refuses to share a bill with bands he views as 'devil worshippers'.
Judas Priest (wiki) are long established as one of the pioneers of the genre and still put on a magnificent show.
They may look slightly ridiculous now as men of around 60 years of age in leathers and studs, but the reunification of Rob Halford with the rest of the band brought about the stunning Angel of Retribution album and tour of 2005.
I'm not quite convinced about the new but overlong Nostradamus concept album. There's certainly some great stuff on there, but it does make you pine for the days when albums were 20 minutes a side. Maybe it'll continue to grow on me.
That said, what we are really going there to hear are the classics which filled our heads some years ago. The videos may look ridiculous now (and camper than a row of tents - we didn't realise at the time but Rob Halford must have learnt a lot from Carry On films about double entre), but Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight will live on for many a year, even after the band finally call it a day - not likely any time yet.
I'm not quite sure what goes on in the Ebbw Vale dressing room at half time; it may be that they drink Night Nurse, but for the 2nd week running, the 1st 20 minutes of the 2nd half were an unmitigated disaster as Cardiff ran in 25 points without reply.
Alternatively, it could be that they play Monopoly, because Jamie Lewis played the best 'Get Out Of Jail' card you'll ever see. Despite working their guts out for the full game, it has to be said that Lewis's interception 10 minutes from time snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Pics (1): First half snaps from the Arms Park
That all said, what a gutsy display from the Steelmen, with fellas out on their feet at the end of the game- that's excluding the ones who were carried off.
Pics (2): Ebbw Vale under the cosh after half time.
In summary, 16-0 up at half time, then 25-16 down. A penalty back and then a converted interception try to win at what is still Cardiff Arms Park, even after regional rugby, a special place to win a match.