Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ebbw Vale 13 Llandovery 16, SWALEC Cup Quarter Final, 22/03/14

As it always seems to be with Ebbw Vale in the Cup, it was another case of so near yet so far, as the Drovers of Llandovery became the first side to beat the Steelmen since a Cup defeat at the same stage of the competition last season.

The Vale forwards were great and their superiority gave the platform and territory to enable a half time 6-0 to be established, but crucially the backs failed to take advantage of several line breaks by converting them into tries and this was to prove telling as the match went on.

Full credit to Llandovery in many ways. They lived off scraps of ball, but were resolute in defence and what would have been certain tries in the Championship became repelled advances at premiership level.

First half pics

Second half

After the interval the visitors upped their game and started switching and moving faster. Despite this, barring a penalty and a drop goal, the Ebbw defence held firm until a moment when Carl Meyer got stripped of possession in the Drovers 22 and then they ran the field to score their only try, thereby taking a 13-6 lead. This was when they were down to 14 men also.

Ebbw's chance had gone, and despite a late try by Lewis Young, were out of the Cup at Quarter Final stage by a single score once again.

One eyed Ebbw Vale fan I may be, but even in the cold light of day some 24 hours later, I cannot help but have the impression that on the day just about all of the marginal calls went against us.

Diplomatically, I could say that Llandovery were street wise, talked to and played the referee to their advantage, and yes were strong in defence especially behind.

More bluntly, referee Whitehouse let them get away with murder in the scrum, by not regularly penalizing standing up and collapsing, and only using one yellow card on them. There were also 2 instances of flagged foul play against Llandovery which amazingly yield no sin bins, plus numerous instances of 'in from the side' and playing in front of the back foot. I thought he had a dreadful game and under another official Ebbw may well have won. 

As with the cup match against Cardiff last year, you almost get the feeling that a Premiership club cannot possible lose to a side from the division below under the opponents are behaving illegally.

It's water under the bridge now of course. What Ebbw will have learned is that from 9 to 15 we are lacking in Premier Division quality, and it is in this area that much recruitment work needs to be done for next season.

There are fantastic photographs of yesterdays game over at Flick, courtesy of NCR Photography.

Yesterday's match ball sponsor was Abergavenny based Financial Management Consultants and Accountants Eye For Finance ;) 

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