Ebbw Vale 22
LLANDOVERY’s recent renaissance in the league came to an abrupt end as high-fliers Ebbw Vale boosted their chances of making the play-offs and secured the double over the Drovers in the process, having previously triumphed in the September thriller at Eugene Cross Park 30-29.
With this the first of three tough away trips to end the season, the next two being at Llanelli and Cardiff, the victory leaves Vale realistically requiring just one win to secure second or third as they currently hold a 9 point advantage over fourth placed Cardiff.
Playing with the wind in the first half Llandovery took the lead thanks to a booming penalty from the halfway line by Fly-half Steffan Marshall. This was to be their only points of the half as Ebbw Vale moved through the gears and produced some fine free-flowing and clinical rugby.
Looking to run their backs at every opportunity due to the lack of a kicking option as the wind howled in their faces, Ebbw were expert in their approach. Jordan Howells and Carl Meyer were threatening at every opportunity and it was only a matter of time before the visitors took the lead.
This came in an unexpected fashion as the normally reliable Marshall threw a poor pass that was intercepted by winger Tom James, who ran clear of the shell-shocked defence to give his side the lead. Ian Smerdon added the simple conversion against the wind providing the platform for Ebbw to kick on.
The visitors were dominating at the breakdown thanks to their exuberant pack, with special mention to the ever present back rower Harrison Keddie who didn’t allow Llandovery to gain any momentum.
James added his second as he was put into a gap by Meyer, and tasked with another simple conversion, Smerdon added the extras to give his side a commanding 14-3 lead.
With Llandovery faltering at the set-piece Ebbw Vale smelt blood and just before half-time they grabbed their third as Ronny Kynes went over following a spectacular driving maul which the Drovers pack was helpless in preventing.
With Keddie receiving a yellow card just before the break for some over enthusiastic play, the home side sensed a way back into the game and they perhaps should have been, if it wasn’t for the speedy covering of Tom James who denied Marshall a try when he looked certain to score.
With nearly an hour on the clock they were back in it as scrum half Lee Rees gathered from wing Rhys Williams to make the score 19-8, the try went unconverted.
Ebbw Vale were made to work hard for their victory as the home crowd got behind their side and drove them towards the try line, but solid defence and strong leadership saw them home.
Smerdon added another penalty to ensure victory before Rees crossed for his second and a consolation try for the hosts.
Llandovery: 15. Mike Evans 14. Rhys Williams 13. Matthew Jacobs 12. Rhodri Jones 11. Aaron Warren 10. Steffan Marshall 9. Lee Rees: 1. Dean Howells 2. Luke Lewis 3. Greg Cunniffe 4. Bryn Griffiths 5. Matthew Harbut 6. Phil Day (captain) 7. Richard Rees 8. Richard Brooks
- Andrew Jones 17. Dorian Williams 18. Andrew Green 19. Ryan Morgans 20. Tom Ball 21. Shaun Miles 22. Josh Guy 23. James Garland