Ebbw Vale's win over previously unbeaten Blackwood was welcomed by home supporters but they would have been cursing at a missed opportunity to record a bonus point win after dominating the game until the latter stages.
An early lead of 14-0 based upon converted tries from Wes Cunliffe and Gary Wilkes should have been the platform for a comfortable win. Unfortunately, that never seems to be the case with Ebbw Vale as good play was often let down by poor decision making or bad handling at the crucial point.
In the end, we were relieved to have won, following some odd late calls by the referee including an endless injury time.
Newbridge ran out worthy winners in this Gwent derby by 27 points to 17 and by 4 tries to 2, as Ebbw Vale couldn't cope with their limited but effective game based around abrasive competition of the breakdown area.
This was a 'back to earth' feeling for Ebbw Vale after two opening victories in this division, and they will have to be on better form for next week's visit of Blackwood.
An early scrum...
. ...and lineout . Newbridge controlled the first half... .
...despite some Ebbw efforts
Ebbw enjoyed better possession in the second period... .
In a tough, uncompromising encounter Ebbw Vale came away from Bargoed with a hard earned 27-19 victory. Bargoed is a difficult place to win in this division, and we may look back on this as a vital win in our quest for the league title.
. First half . Ebbw Vale led 13-6 at the break, Llyr Lane going over unopposed from a smart lineout move. .
An early scrum
. Ashley Sweet winning clean lineout ball... .
...and disrupting opposition ball .
Bargoed came back strongly after the break to level, but a Gary Wilkes try and three Sam Mills penalties saw Ebbw home.
Bargoed come back... . ...and press hard . Sam Mills attempts to convert Gary Wilkes try .
This was a highly encouraging opening day victory for Ebbw Vale over a competitive Llanharan who were runners up in the Division last season.
It was a big leap into the unknown for Ebbw, more used to hosting the likes of Neath and Newport, but this was a display of huge heart and commitment played out in front of larger than expected crowd.
Perhaps difficult to single out individuals, but Nicky Coughlin (8), Damien Hudd (4), Ashley Sweet (5), Sam Mills (10) and Wes Cunliffe (14) shone throughout, and what a joy it was to see a scrum half in David Jones passing the ball snappily from the base of the breakdown. Wing Andrew Bevan, hooker Matthew Williams and centre Tristran Davies also made their experience count.
First half lineout action
. Ebbw were on top in the set pieces . Outstanding captain Damien Hudd leads by example in disrupting opposition ball . Ebbw pile on the pressure late in the game... . ...and close out the win with Wes Cunliffe (14) & Llyr Lane (20) in the foreground .
Oh well. For supporters of Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club reality bites tomorrow as we start our life in Division One East of the WRU's league structure.
It hurts and it'll be tough, but on with it we've got to get.
First up are our old friends from Llanharan, who we had many tussles with in the early 90s in Division 2 of the Heineken leagues. Remember them? They were difficult opponents then and they'll be difficult tomorrow.
I'd like to wish all the coaches, players and officials of EVRFC all the very best for the coming season.
An excellent Bank Holiday weekend of cricket on the South Coast saw Glamorgan emerge from their County Championship match versus Sussex having got the better of a drawn contest, and with 9 valuable points towards promotion in the bag.
Highlights included a brilliant 142 from Mark Cosgrove in the first innings, 76 from Tom Maynard in the second and another encouraging 5 match wickets for the vastly improved seamer Huw Waters.
. Day 2 .
Chris Nash bowls to Cosgrove
Not the prettiest backdrop in county cricket . Cosgrove hits out. Luke Wright looks on. . Wright to Will Bragg . Ben Wright off the mark... . ...facing Monty Panesar... . ...defending... . ...and attacking... . Cosgrove taken the applause at tea... . ...passing 100 here on you tube... .
...and getting a superb ovation from the Sussex members, including the steward. . .
Day 3 .
Master and pupil.
Oli Rayner gets advice from Robert Croft, despite neither being deemed worthy of selection for this match. .
Jim Allenby bowls . Dean Cosker to Mike Yardy .
Monty in the field . Tom Maynard after making a valuable 76 . At tea, Glamorgan had a sniff of victory, but the teams shook hands on a draw by 5pm .