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..