Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tredegar 0 Ebbw Vale 52, 28/04/12

Ebbw Vale secured their 2nd successive Division One East Championship by crushing a hapless Tredegar outfit at the Recretation Ground.

It's been a good season for the Steelmen, only 3 league defeats, the title wrapped up with one game to spare, and a splendid SWALEC Cup run to the semi finals, beating Newport, Carmarthen Quins and Swansea along the way as well as the drawn semi final versus Cross Keys.

Next year sees the brave new world of the Championship, where the best sides in D1E, Ebbw, Newbridge, Bargoed pit their wits against the best of D1W, Bonymaen, Whitland, Tata Steel etc as well as Premiership rejects Pontypool and Tonmawr. For Ebbw it's a better standard to play, to be blunt the bottom half of D1E has been poor, as can be seen by yesterday's score.

Congratulations to the coaches, players and management of the club on a fine season.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ebbw Vale 16 Newbridge 19, 21/04/12

Match ball sponsors Eye For Finance must have been the bringers of bad luck to the home side, as they lost at home for the first time in over a year against a dogged Newbridge side, who deservedly completed a league double.

From the Ebbw Vale website:

Newbridge brought Ebbw's 19 match unbeaten run to an end at Eugene Cross Park on Saturday afternoon, inflicting on the Steelmen their first league defeat since October 15th - at Newbridge - and taking a ground record stretching back to March 1st, 2011. Before the match, high hopes of a victory to seal the division title were tempered by the knowledge that this was a Western Valley derby against one of the division's genuine big hitters who had, like ourselves, narrowly missed making it to the SWALEC cup final a week previously.

Ebbw took the game to Newbridge from kick off, phase after phase putting pressure on the visitors' defence and, when the inevitable transgression came, outside half Dan Haymond made it 3 - 0 to the Steelmen. Matches between these two teams have been close affairs in D1E, with organised defences tending to dominate, and so it proved this time. The first half developed into what soccer pundits might describe as "a midfield battle", with play largely taking place between the two 22m lines. Ebbw extended the lead from a ruck just short of the Newbridge line, when the defence fanned out on the openside, leaving the blindside unguarded, allowing Gareth James to stroll over. Haymond added the extras to make it 10-0.Newbridge were fortunate not to concede at least one yellow card as, under massive pressure from the Ebbw eight, with Josh Powell, Mathew Williams and Ross Jones giving their opponents a torrid time, they repeatedly infringed at scrums. It didn't happen, though, and both sides entered the half time break with 15 men apiece. There was speculation from spectators about the influence of the strong wind blowing down from Beaufort and what use Neil Burnett might make of it in the second period.

An exquisite break by Dan Haymond, from Newbridge's kick off, set Ebbw off on a great attack, again thwarted illegally. Haymond did the honours and it was 13 - 0. From then on, the visitors raised their game with Burnett aiming long for the corners and Ebbw failing to clear or counter successfully. Although still on top in the scrums and lines out, Ebbw were second to Newbridge at the break down where the physicality of Ross Coombes and Dean Gibbs was a significant factor. There was also some hesitancy, for whatever reason, at rucks, when the ball appeared to be available, allowing Newbridge to counter ruck, which they did very well. A Burnett penalty made it 13 - 3, before old Ebbw favourite Andrew Bevan popped up on the right (or wrong!) wing to score wide out. The conversion was missed but a penalty to Newbridge soon afterwards made it 13 - 11. Dorian Jones calmed the nerves a little, striking a penalty to open the gap to 5 points, but Ebbw were caught napping when a clever line out ploy resulted in a try for replacement hooker Darren Hughes to tie the game at 16-16. The penalties were now flowing in Newbridge's favour and Burnett missed two long range efforts before slotting one from 30m to make it 16-19.

Time ran out for Ebbw, Newbridge were worthy winners of a tight contest, and the champagne was put away for another week at least.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ebbw Vale 19 Cross Keys 19 (Keys win 2-1 on tries), Swalec Cup Semi Final, 14/04/12

As ever with Ebbw Vale it was a case of so near yet so far, as a last minute penalty denied them a famous victory and broke the hearts of the Steelmen faithful.

It seems to be part of the dna of the club to fail just at the moment that victory is imminent. Long standing supporters will quote dates and games of many such glorious defeats.

That does not though take away from a massive effort by all concerned in what has been a great cup run in a fine 2011/12 season.

From the Ebbw website:

Despite yet another magnificent performance by the Steelmen, it was Cross Keys who progressed to the SWALEC Cup final by virtue of scoring two tries to the one that Ashley Sweet got for Ebbw. Although it ended 19-19, the touchdowns by Gareth David and Tom Lampard were enough to set up a final date with Pontypridd who sneaked past Newbridge, 28-24, in the other game in Cardiff.

The immediate after match scene was truly bizarre, as the Ebbw players and coaches saluted the thousand or so red, green and white supporters in the Hazell stand and terrace, with the chants of "Ebbw, Ebbw" filling the ground and prompting one Newport steward to comment, "We don't get that much noise when the Dragons are here!" Cross Keys, the victors, huddled together in the dead ball area. A casual observer would not have guessed which team had just been knocked out and which was heading for the final.

There's another write up here: South Wales Argus report.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote, March/April 2012

Well, there are worse ways of spending two weeks. A villa, 14 days of sunshine, loads of food and booze plus a few bands to watch. It's a hard life.

The harbour

Multinational rock covers band Question have been on Lanzarote longer than some of the volcanoes it seems (they were there when we first went in 2000), and they never disappoint (the band that is). Resident in the American Indian Cafe, they put on a great set, which brings the punters in night after night, and year after year. Check them out here and on you tube.


Down in the old quarter of Puerto del Carmen the bars are smaller and more intimate and that's where we discovered the Rock Cavern, only 4 weeks old, where the resident duo are the twin guitarists/vocalists Highly Strung (who've decamped from the Scotch Corner). Well worth a night or two.

Highly Strung

and now the food...

Some tapas...

...a lot of ham...

...and a 'small' steak for senor

The villa...


...and outside

And our Wedding Anniversary