Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ebbw Vale 31 Llanelli 24, Welsh Premiership, 20/12/14

Determination, fitness and organisation were the watchwords as Ebbw Vale deservedly fought out a bonus point victory over our visitors from the West, Llanelli.

After what has seemed an interminable gap between league fixtures it was a relief to get a win under our belts following November's home defeat to Pontypridd, and now going into Christmas, the Steelmen lie second to the Glamorgan side.

On a dry and fine pre Christmas Saturday there were many outstanding performances in the Ebbw side, the pack were outstanding as were full back Dan Haymond and Rhys Downes at 9.

Llanelli were useful and included 2 Scarlets players in their ranks, but Vale pack power was too much for them, magnificently led by Damian Hudd.

4 tries did the damage: penalty, Downes, Josh Jacas and Tom Hiscox, and Iain Smerdon kicked magnificently, converting all 4 plus one penalty.

Next up for Ebbw is Bedwas away on the 27th.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ebbw Vale 14 Aberavon 9, Welsh Premiership, 01/11/14

Ebbw Vale ground out a home win largely through dominant forward power on an afternoon where autumn kicked in for the first time.

The first half was particularly tight, and unusually in modern rugby the sides went in at the break drawing 3-3, a throwback to an era of Welsh rugby dogfights.

The game was somewhat spoiled by weak officiating, namely a referee who failed to stamp his authority on the game and unhelpful assistants on the line.

Fortunately for fans of the Steelmen, a strong scrummage, ample lineout ball and the superb rolling maul got them through. The only try of the game was via a 15 yard rolling maul completed by Ronnie Kynes.

It's been a  great start for Ebbw Vale on their return to the Premiership, as they sit top of the table with only one defeat (against Newport), but have difficult games coming up including next Friday away at Carmarthen Quins and the following Friday against the powerful Pontypridd.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ebbw Vale 22 Newport 25, Welsh Premiership, 27/09/14

Proper clubs, proper ground, proper Gwent derby, played in proper Ebbw Vale and Newport colours.

Sadly for those of us who support our club at the top end of the valley, the result was not what we wanted, and will serve as a wake up call to the players and coaching staff at Eugene Cross Park.

For the third week running, the Steelmen started slowly and found themselves 0-10 down. But they managed to turn that around and go in 14-13 up at the interval (should have been 21-13 but centre Adam Jones lacked the pace to outsprint the Newport defence) largely thanks to an excellent Wes Cunliffe try.

Cunliffe scored again in the second half, but Newport kept stealing Ebbw's lineout ball, thereby denying them a valuable platform. A constant penalty count against Ebbw took its toll, and, despite being outscored 2 tries to 1, the visitors from Rodney Parade took the spoils.

The officials were poor and did Ebbw little favours, but Ebbw blew the chances to win including a missed conversion and late penalties which could have nicked a draw or even a win.

Ebbw's coaching staff will be left rue missed chances, the omission of hooker Matthew Williams and an aimless kicking game.

Next up is Cross keys away before the return fixture at Newport.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ebbw Vale 30 Llandovery 29, Welsh Premiership, 13/09/14

In a pulsating encounter at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale gained a bonus point win on their return to the top division of Welsh club rugby.

It was a nip and tuck battle as early Ebbw errors allowed the Drovers to take an 18-10 interval lead, but as the game progressed, Ebbw's forward power started to tell. The set piece was excellent and the pack started to turnover possession, which was just as well as the visitors' backs looked sharp.

Tries for Wes Cunliffe, Ronnie Kynes, Ashley Sweet and a decisive penalty try gave the home side the additional bonus point as Ebbw scrum power took hold.

Even then, a last gasp try for the West Walians left the game hanging on the outcome of a conversion attempt which, to the relief of the terrace, drifted fractionally wide.

There were many positives for Ebbw, but also plenty to work on as the games will be this tough every week. To my eyes, the pack were great but we needed more control at half back. If we can get this, then the centres Jones and Preece looked sharp and powerful.

Neath away next week!

..first half

..and into the 2nd half..

Monday, August 18, 2014

Glamorgan v Essex, LVCC2, St Helen's, Swansea, 15-18/08/14

It's always a pleasure to visit Glamorgan's spiritual home at St Helen's Swansea and, blessed with with fair weather and attractive visitors in Essex, another successful festival week was held.

St Helen's, Swansea

On this occasion, sadly, a paltry first innings total of 161 from Glamorgan, meant that the home side were always up against, and eventually fell to defeat by 63 runs early on day 4.

Put bluntly, Glamorgan have some work to do over the winter, as the batting just isn't good enough at present.

Jim Allenby bowls...

...whilst Hogan takes a breather

Essex's Matt Salisbury bowls to Jacques Rudolph

Former England spinner Monty Panesar...

...bowls to Will Bragg....

...and Murray Goodwin

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer holiday, Hotel Yaramar, Fuengirola, Andalucia, August 2014

You really can't beat summer holidays and even if the temperature was punishing some days, 39C by day and little under 30C in the evening, it was a great 2 weeks at the Thomson Gold Hotel Yaramar on the southern Spanish coast in Fuengirola.

I've posted a full review on Trip Advisor.


a strange summer mist

the side streets at night

Hotel Yaramar

the pool

the hotel

the lifts

a glass or two

and a coffee...

...or two


Hard Rock Cafe, Puerto Banus

Puerto Banus

yachts aplenty

Rocking in Fuengirola

at Pogs Irish Rock Bar

outside the hotel...

...and outside the castle