By: Paul Hopkins
A Swansea team full of spirit fell to a bonus point defeat to Ebbw Vale in a bad tempered affair at the CiNER Glass Community Stadium.
From the opening play fly half Evan Lloyd’s kick off sailed out on the full, gifting Swansea a scrum on half way. A superb 50-22 kick by scrum half Gareth J Rees earned the home side an attacking lineout and offside by the home side gave Swansea a penalty, which full back Cai Evans duly converted.
Prop Tom Sloane spilled the ball forward at the restart, but the visitors were given a let off when referee Steff Edwards awarded a penalty after the Vale forwards collapsed a scrum.
Further offside in the home defence gave the All Whites another penalty and Evans doubled his side’s lead.
The Steelmen almost grabbed a try when centre Amir Jiwa Wadji raced through a gap in the middle, but his pass to number eight Gethin Williams was deemed forward.
The home attacks began to gain intensity and Lloyd powered through the middle, but another mistake allowed the All Whites to clear.
A well weighted chip through by Lloyd almost resulted in a try for winger Ryan Davies in the corner, but the ball beat him into touch.
Ebbw Vale’s opening try came in style when flanker Lewis Young powered through the Swansea defence before he sent a long pass out wide for hooker Rhys Francis to race down the wing and throw an inside pass for winger Carrick McDonough to score. Lloyd missed the conversion.
Evans was taken out in the air as he went to catch a high ball and he kicked the resulting penalty goal from inside his own half.
Flanker Chad Thomas showed good strength to make yards inside the Swansea half and a deliberate knock on by centre Matthew Jenkins gave the home side a penalty, which Lloyd chipped up to the 22.
A difficult 30 seconds for Evans saw the full back miss touch with a penalty and then chip out of the full near his own 22. It gave Ebbw Vale decent attacking territory, but a mistake and late tackle by lock Curtis Gregory on Gareth J Rees gave Swansea a let off. The second row was also handed a yellow card.
Evans found touch inside the Ebbw Vale 22 with a penalty, but the home defence superbly steered the Whites’ maul into touch.
Prop Luke Garrett dropped a routine pass just eight metres from his own line to gift the visitors with an attacking scrum. An infringement gave the home side a penalty with Lloyd able to clear.
Centre Dom Franchi picked up a loose ball and raced downfield with Wadji picking up the race, only to be denied a try scoring chance by a Hanno Dirksen high tackle. The former Osprey centre was sent to the sin-bin.
Lloyd chipped to the corner from a penalty and Francis pealed off an unstoppable maul to score in the corner. Lloyd’s conversion attempt sailed well wide of the posts. Prop Ellis Fackrell was also yellow carded for deliberate offside in the build up.
Young and Williams combined as the Vale forwards drove forward at pace and replacement hooker Garan Williams was yellow carded for an earlier dangerous tackle. The Ebbw Vale forwards chose a scrum on the 22, but a forward pass out to McDonough was forward.
Half-time:- Ebbw Vale 10-9 Swansea
Gregory rose high to steal a lineout for the home side with Dom Franchi trying an inventive bit of play to spread quick ball out to the wing, but his flick pass was well forward.
The home side gave away a penalty at the scrum and despite a strong wind against him, Evans chose to kick at goal, which he missed. To compound things for the full back, he also spilled a simple drop out by the home side.
A huge 50-22 kick by Lloyd gave the home side an attacking lineout and a couple of phases later Chad Thomas crashed over for a try. Lloyd converted.
Lock Dylan Bartlett powered through a weak tackle our wide, but a superb tackle by winger Harri Houston earned a much needed turnover.
Replacement fly half Ethan Phillips made a superb break through the middle as he managed to split the Whites’ defence, but the supporting McDonough spilled a potential try scoring pass.
Replacement prop Pritchard was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and Evans found touch on half way with the penalty. A further infringement at the scrum saw Evans found touch even deeper inside Ebbw Vale territory, but the move broke down.
With the last play of the game, the home side grabbed a well earned bonus point when a superb turn of pace by Phillips sent McDonough over for a try. Lloyd missed the conversion.
Full-time:- Ebbw Vale 22-9 Swansea
Tries:- Carrick McDonough (24, 80+2), Rhys Francis (40+1), Chad Thomas (59)
Cons:- Evan Lloyd (60)
Yellow cards:- Curtis Gregory (34), Jordan Pritchard (71)
Pens:- Cai Evans (4, 9, 27)
Yellow cards:- Hanno Dirksen (40+1), Ellis Fackrell (40+6)
Venue:- Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale
Weather:- Light rain, 15C
Referee:- Steff Edwards
Man of the match:- Chad Thomas
Ebbw Vale team:
15 Haydn Simons
14 Carrick McDonough
13 Amir Jiwa Wadji
12 Dom Franchi (rep: Ethan Phillips 70)
11 Ryan Davies
10 Evan Lloyd
9 Jonathan Evans (rep: Matthew Flanagan 60)
1 Luke Garrett (rep: Joel Harries 60)
2 Rhys Francis © (rep: Joe Franchi 60)
3 Harry Drane (rep: Jordan Pritchard 65)
4 Dylan Bartlett
5 Curtis Gregory (rep: Morgan Thomas 76)
6 Chad Thomas
7 Lewis Young
8 Gethin Williams (rep: Harry Drane 72-80+1)
16 Joe Franchi
17 Joel Harries
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 Morgan Thomas
20 Lewis Kinsella
21 Matthew Flanagan
22 Ethan Phillips
23 Morgan Richards
15 Cai Evans
14 Iestyn Hopkins
13 Matthew Jenkins
12 Hanno Dirksen
11 Harri Houston (rep: Richard Murphy 40+6-50) (rep: Harvey James 77)
10 Liam Popham (rep: Morgan Rees 69)
9 Gareth J Rees (rep: Connor Tantum 69)
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Freddie Chapman 63)
2 Lewis Lloyd (rep: Garan Williams 15)
3 Ellis Fackrell (rep: Richard Murphy 63)
4 Liam Edwards
5 Lyndon Bateman (rep: Joe Clarke 57)
6 Will Barraclough
7 Callum Bowden
8 Morgan Morse
16 Garan Williams
17 Freddie Chapman
18 Richard Murphy
19 Joe Clarke
20 Chris Thomas
21 Connor Tantum
22 Morgan Rees
23 Harvey James