Swansea 17-24 Ebbw Vale

By: Paul Hopkins

Swansea came up just short against title chasing Ebbw Vale in a titanic struggle at St Helen’s in an impressive display by Hugh Gustafson’s men.

In the early reckonings, flanker Tristan Davies tried to pop up a pass following a charge through by number eight Cai Davies, but he ended up holding on after the tackle to give Ebbw Vale a penalty on half way, which fly half Kieran Meek chipped up to the 22.

The visitors looked to spread the ball out wide, but winger Ewan Bowden was expertly marshalled into touch by full back Harri Houston.

Prop Freddie Chapman was penalised for a petulant push on his opposite number following a scrum and Meek found touch on the 22, but the Steelmen switched play to the wrong side of the field and number eight Ryan Jenkins knocked the ball forward.

Meek began an Ebbw Vale attack by running back a kick and winger Ryan Gardner then sprinted into the 22, before the home side gave away a penalty.

The visitors’ fly half chipped to the corner, with the pack remaining patient, before a clever flip pass was sent out for Bowden to score. Full back Evan Lloyd missed the conversion.

A superb chip by fly half Luke Scully gave the Whites a first piece of territorial advantage, although lock Curtis Gregory just about held onto the lineout, allowing Meek to clear long.

Scully ran a kick back up to half way, but his following 50/22 attempt sailed out on the full. Instead, the visitors were awarded a penalty at the next phase and from the lineout the Vale pack rumbled forward with lock Dylan Bartlett picking up to score.

Gregory took a lineout on the 22 and hooker Rhys Francis powered forward, but were sent backwards by the Whites’ defence, before Lloyd dropped back to find touch in the 22.

Lock Lewis Jones salvaged a lost lineout and the supporting scrum half Rhodri Lewis found Houston, who sidestepped a tackle and raced up to half way, before finding winger Llien Morgan on his shoulder who finished off a breathtaking move. Scully converted.

The Steelmen hit back straightaway though when centre Ethan Phillips took a pass on an angle and sprinted clear to score a fantastic try in the corner. Lloyd pulled his conversion attempt well wide.

Scully found touch inside the Ebbw Vale 22 with a penalty after the visitors crept offside in midfield. A powerful drive forward by the home pack earned a penalty, but Lewis Jones lost the lineout forward.

The elusive Houston almost broke through a tackle in midfield but centre Tom Florence took a ball on the run and fed Lewis, before opposite number Jon Evans was penalised for a professional foul and was promptly yellow carded. Scully kicked the penalty goal on the stroke of half time.

Half-time:-   Swansea 10-17 Ebbw Vale

In the opening stages of the second half the visitors were awarded a penalty for words spoken out of turn by prop Ed Thompson, which Meek chipped into the corner, but the move broke down with Swansea able to clear long.

Houston ran back at Ebbw Vale with Cai Davies in support, before Lewis box kicked the ball away, which was punished by a long clearance kick downfield by Lloyd.

The Steelmen won a lineout against the head, but an outstanding tackle by Florence secured a turnover and penalty.

Swansea gave away another needless penalty for harassment of the ref and Meek chipped up to the 22, although replacement hooker Joe Franchi’s lineout throw was crooked.

The visitors gave away a penalty at a scrum and Scully found touch just inside the Ebbw Vale 22. Replacement flanker Lloyd Ashley took the lineout and substitute prop Cameron B Jones peeled off at the corner to set up an attack, with the visitors penalised for a high tackle on Houston.

Scully turned down the kickable penalty and instead dinked the ball into the corner. Ashley took the lineout but Ebbw Vale illegally took down the maul, so Meek again chipped to touch.

The Steelmen initially repelled the drive but were able to attack through replacement scrum half Gareth J Rees who was tackled just short of the sticks, before Florence popped up in midfield to stroll over for a try. Scully converted to tie the scores.

Bowden popped up in midfield as Ebbw Vale looked to hit back immediately, and Florence was yellow carded for deliberate foul play. The Steelmen opted for a scrum five metres from the line and from the initial set piece, they tried to throw a long pass out to Gardner, but the ball sailed into touch.

Play was brought back for another penalty and the Steelmen opted for another scrum. This time the visitors got the ball out with a crossfield kick taken by Gardner, who touched down in the corner. Lloyd converted.

Morgan made a break on the wing and replacement hooker Owen Thomas took a flat pass to charge forward as the Whites went in search of a try. Then Cameron B Jones took a crash ball as the home side got to within a metre of the line, but play was brought back for a home penalty.

Scully feigned a kick at the corner and instead took a quick tap penalty to Cameron B Jones, but he was held up just short. A high tackle by the visitors gave Swansea another penalty under the posts, which Scully this time chipped into the corner. The home side had two many men in the lineout though and gave away a free kick.

A strong rolling maul by the home side took play over half way with Cameron B Jones making good yards, before a poor pass out wide dribbled into touch.

Replacement lock Ewan McIntyre lost possession at the lineout to give Swansea another attacking chance, and Scully looked to race down the wing, finding Morgan in support, but he was tackled, although the ball went into touch off the visitors.

Houston danced past a tackler and found Morgan in support as the winger made good yards upfield, earning a penalty, which Scully kicked to the corner.

Ashley collected the ball at the lineout and the home pack drove forward with Cai Davies taking a crash ball, only for Cameron B Jones to drop the ball, with the full time whistle sounding just seconds later.

Next up for Swansea is a home match against Neath, while Ebbw Vale host Aberavon.

Full-time:-   Swansea 17-24 Ebbw Vale



Tries:-   Llien Morgan (28), Tom Florence (63)

Cons:-   Luke Scully (29, 64)

Pens:-   Luke Scully (40+4)

Yellow cards:-   Tom Florence (66)


Ebbw Vale:

Tries:-   Ewan Bowden (17), Dylan Bartlett (24), Ethan Phillips (32), Ryan Gardner (71)

Cons:-   Evan Lloyd (25, 72)

Yellow cards:-   Jon Evans (40+4)


Match facts:

Venue:-   St Helen’s, Swansea

Weather:-   Light rain showers, 11C

Referee:-   Dewi Phillips

Man of the match:-   Morgan Davies

Attendance:-   500


Swansea team:

15 Harri Houston

14 Cori Lewis-Jenkins (rep: Gareth O Rees 41)

13 Tom Florence

12 Sam Matthews

11 Llien Morgan

10 Luke Scully

9 Rhodri Lewis (rep: Gareth J Rees 51)

1 Freddie Chapman (rep: Cameron B Jones 51)

2 Llew Phillips-Taylor (rep: Owen Thomas 64)

3 Ed Thompson (rep: Kian Hire 64)

4 Joe Greaves

5 Lewis Jones

6 Tristan Davies (rep: Lloyd Ashley 56)

7 Callum Bowden © (rep: Sam Pailor 12)

8 Cai Davies


16 Owen Thomas

17 Cameron B Jones

18 Kian Hire

19 Sam Pailor

20 Lloyd Ashley

21 Gareth J Rees

22 Jacob Symes

23 Gareth O Rees


Ebbw Vale team:

15 Evan Lloyd

14 Ewan Bowden

13 Ethan Phillips

12 Dom Franchi

11 Ryan Gardner

10 Kieran Meek

9 Jon Evans

1 Morgan Davies (rep: Luke Garrett 51)

2 Rhys Francis © (rep: Joe Franchi 51)

3 Adam Court (rep: Owen Hatherill 64)

4 Dylan Bartlett

5 Curtis Gregory (rep: Ewan McIntyre 61)

6 Cameron Regan (rep: Lewis Young 61)

7 Ben Main

8 Ryan Jenkins


16 Joe Franchi

17 Luke Garrett

18 Owen Hatherill

19 Ewan McIntyre

20 Lewis Young

21 Rory Harries

22 Morgan Richard

23 Hamish Anderson