Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ebbw Vale 45 RGC 1404 0, SWALEC Championship, 28/12/13

Ebbw Vale continue to romp their way to another SWALEC Championship title, as this hammering of North Wales visitors RGC proved.
Let's be clear; despite the scoreline this was no easy fixture. RGC are favoured sons of the WRUseless, with financial backing and are seen as a region in waiting, but the Steelmen gave them a thorough hiding up front and clinically finished high class moves to deliver this latest try fest.
Ebbw's forward power was once more the stand out feature, but the backs have really started to click in December. With Narberth only drawing at home (to the side Ebbw beat 71-0 last week), the Vale extended their lead at the top of the table to 22 points.
The stats say it all: unbeaten in 2013, played 14 won 14 this season (12 with a 4 try bonus point), that's 68 points from 70.
From "Ebbw's try scorers were Ashley Sweet (2), Dai James, Dan Haymond, Wes Cunliffe, Cameron Reagan and a penalty try. Ian Smerdon goaled five."
Next week we turn our attention to the Cup and entertain Beddau at home.

Early lineout action

Ebbw were in total control of the scrum

Ashley Sweet, superb again

Ebbw defended well

Into the 2nd half

It was abrasive up front

Ebbw run from deep

RGC stuck at it well


Monday, December 23, 2013

Black Sabbath, LG Arena, NEC Birmingham, 20/12/13

Let me put it this simply: Black Sabbath are the originals. They were the first, and are the best, heavy metal band. Often copied, never bettered, and in their 45th year, they proved once again, in their home town of Birmingham, that they blow away groups comprised of people young enough to be their grandchildren.

In the autumn of 2012, the fab four of original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward announced a reformation greeted with joy by fans worldwide. Sadly, Ward was not contracted further. The resultant album '13' is stunning, album of the year for 2013 by a distance, and created a record as its appearance at number 1 in the UK album charts came some 43 years after their last chart topper.
Following the album's release the band have been touring the world. Iommi is battling cancer and Osbourne forever battling his demons. On drums has been Tommy Clufetos, and, whilst we all miss Bill Ward, in my opinion this new guy is brilliant and I'm not sure Bill is up to the task.

Geezer and Tommy Clufetos

At a packed NEC, the guys had a magnificent homecoming. The sound was brilliant, the visuals stunning and all band members on great form. Iommi, the band's backbone, still brilliant, and Geezer's bass on NIB can still make you shiver.

Tony Iommi, the riffmaster

As for Ozzy, well is he the guy who got lucky? Perhaps. He met great musicians, married a woman who exploited his notoriety to make the couple a fortune, and he should really have been kicking up the daisies years ago. But, despite now being eligible for a bus pass, he looked great; amazing what Botox and surgery can do. In fairness, you can't help but like the old rogue, and, as his voice suits their early stuff so well,  Sabbath just aren't really Sabbath without him.

Geezer, Tommy Clufetos, Ozzy and Tony

With little doubt this was my gig of the year, well worth the round trip to Birmingham on a cold December Friday night. New songs sat comfortable alongside the old classics. That siren at the start of War Pigs is still frightening. Any downsides? Well, I can always do without a drum solo, and I'd like to have heard a full Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The one and only Mr Osbourne
All in all, a great night with a full 2 hour set from one of the great bands of rock music. 

Ozzy and Tony, putting aside years of bad blood
Set List
War Pigs
Into The Void
Under The Sun
Age Of Reason
Black Sabbath
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
End Of The Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad
Iron Man
God Is Dead?
Dirty Women
Children Of The Grave
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (intro)

Many thanks to the irrepressible Steve Powis who took some great photographs in between trays of NEC lager.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ebbw Vale 71 Bonymaen 0, SWALEC Championship, 21/12/13

Ebbw Vale competed a total demolition job on Bonymaen, our visitors from the Swansea Valley, by ramming home 11 tries and, to be truthful, could been close to 100 points by the end
The writing was on the wall after 30 minutes with the 4 try bonus point completed when the score went 28-0.
The Steelmen have been awesome as we reach the halfway point in the season. Played 13, won 13 (11 with bonus points), 63 league points, and a return to Premiership rugby a matter of when, not if.

 It was lively up front, but a few '99' calls when the brawling started soon calmed it down

Once again, the pack was absolutely dominant and outstanding, 'second choice' locks Joe Bartlett and Rhys Clarke superb, and ably snapped at by lively scrum half Chris Thomas. What was even more pleasing was the progression of the backs over the last weeks, with South African centre Carl Meyer really coming into his own since he's taken the '12' berth.

Despite heavy overnight rain, Eugene Cross Park looked resplendent

Ebbw Vale's wonderful new floodlights take effect in the 2nd half

The gloom descends around 4 o'clock on the shortest day

Next Saturday, Ebbw have another home game when we entertain our visitors from North Wales, Rygbi Gogledd Cymru, I think, RGC for short.

No doubt you'll know the best paces to go for Ebbw'ish stuff:

Musings from REL
The homepage
and wonderful images (and much better than mine) here
and here

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ebbw Vale 43 Bridgend Athletic 24, SWALEC Championship, 07/12/13

It was another bonus point victory for Ebbw Vale on a Saturday afternoon, with the 4 tries banked by half time, but in fairness to Bridgend Athletic they were a decent fit side who gave the Steelmen one of their toughest outings for some weeks.
In fact, with the score 24-3 at half time, you could say that the visitors won the second half 21-19.

But, of course, and as usual, it was the power of the Ebbw pack which won through with Damien Hudd, Ashley Sweet and Ronnie Kynes outstanding up front, and South African centre Carl Meyer having his best game for the club.

Next up for Ebbw is Llanharan away next Saturday, followed by Bonymaen at home on the 21st on 'Santa hat Saturday'. Ebbw are now 14 points clear at the top.