By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites celebrated a gutsy victory over Ebbw Vale in a tightly fought contest at Eugene Cross Park.
In the opening phases flanker Duane Eager spilled a lineout forward and the Ebbw Vale backs looked to attack from inside their own half. Lock Jay Williams was penalised for a deliberate trip off the ball and was promptly yellow carded with fly half Dai Langdon finding touch deep inside the Swansea twenty-two.
The home pack drove ominously towards the line, but outstanding work by the Swansea front eight secured a crucial turnover.
Flanker Ben Fry made a darting run up to the twenty-two and centre Ethan Phillips raced through a gap in midfield, but a failed Matt Aubrey interception ended the move.
The home side continued their onslaught on the Whites’ line though and Phillips found a metre of space to stroll over for a try under the posts. Full back Dan Haymond converted.
A crooked lineout throw by hooker Joe Franchi gave Swansea a rare chance to show some enterprise, but centre Rhys Williams lost the ball forward under pressure.
But the home side were unable to make the most of the reprieve and prop Chris Coleman was penalised for diving over the top of a ruck, gifting fly half James Davies an easy three pointer.
Good work by lock Ashley Sweet set up another Ebbw attack and the visitors were caught offside in midfield. Haymond restored his side’s seven point advantage with a successful penalty goal.
Half-time:- Ebbw Vale 10 Swansea 3
Swansea began the second half in promising fashion and Rhys Williams was brought down on the twenty-two. The ball was recycled out to full back Josh Thomas who found Nathan Trowbridge, but the winger was unable to chase down his chip ahead.
Josh Thomas superbly took a high ball to set up another Whites attack and centre Gareth Rees injected pace into the backline, throwing a superb flip pass to winger Ryan Griffiths. The Ebbw Vale defence was penalised for offside and Aubrey opted to tap and go, sending Rees over for a try. James Davies converted.
A long touch finder by replacement fly half Lewis Williams was almost kept in play by Josh Thomas, but the full back was adjudged to have knocked the ball forward, giving Ebbw Vale an attacking scrum. Phillips fumbled the ball in midfield though so the move broke down.
A powerful scum by the visitors earned a penalty on half way and James Davies found touch on the twenty-two, although hooker Owen Thomas failed to throw straight at the lineout.
Haymond made a break down the wing, but a wasteful chip through by replacement scrum half Dai Jones gifted Swansea possession. With the home side struggling to get out of their own territory Joe Franchi held on after the tackle. James Davies kicked his side into the lead with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock.
The home side attacked through Phillips but the supporting centre Dom Franchi was turned over by the Swansea defence who were able to clear long.
With time running out Haymond kicked to the corner with a penalty following a high tackle. Replacement centre Callum Reagan was brought down inside the twenty-two and Dom Franchi made good yards before winger Paul King was crowded out into touch with the last play of the game.
Full-time:- Ebbw Vale 10 Swansea 13
Tries:- Ethan Phillips (13)
Cons:- Dan Haymond (14)
Pens:- Dan Haymond (31)
Tries:- Gareth Rees (50)
Cons:- James Davies (51)
Pens:- James Davies (22, 72)
Yellow cards:- Jay Williams (5)
Venue:- Eugene Cross Park
Weather:- Light cloud, 8C
Man of the match:- Tom Sloane
Ebbw Vale team:
15 Dan Haymond
14 Paul King
13 Dom Franchi (rep: Callum Reagan 31)
12 Ethan Phillips
11 Dafydd Thomas
10 Dai Langdon (rep: Lewis Williams 51)
9 Matthew Flanagan (rep: Dai Jones 54)
1 Ross Jones (Luke Garrett 51)
2 Joe Franchi
3 Chris Coleman
4 Dan Hill
5 Ashley Sweet ©
6 Rhys Francis
7 Ben Fry
8 Lewis Young (rep: Dawid Rubasniak 58)
16 Will Griffiths
17 Luke Garrett
18 Dave Whiting
19 Max Ayling
20 Dawid Rubasniak
21 Dai Jones
22 Lewis Williams
23 Cameron Reagan
15 Josh Thomas
14 Ryan Griffiths
13 Gareth Rees
12 Rhys Williams
11 Nathan Trowbridge (rep: Callum Carson 62)
10 James Davies
9 Matt Aubrey
1 Tom Sloane
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Shawn Howard 73)
3 Greg Cunniffe
4 Shaun O’Rourke (rep: Matt Dodd 62)
5 Jay Williams
6 Duane Eager (rep: Guido Volpi 41)
7 Callum Bowden (rep: Will Jones 62)
8 Jon Fox ©
16 Shawn Howard
17 Rhys Davies
18 Dean Howells
19 Matt Dodd
20 Guido Volpi
21 Will Jones
22 Tom Ham
23 Callum Carson