SLOW starts and woeful tackling proved costly for Ebbw Vale last night as they were totally outclassed 49-3 by eight-try Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets.
Last week the Steelmen, who only have Pontypool beneath them in the Premiership, lost to the same opponents in the Swalec Cup after conceding three quickfire tries in the first ten minutes of the second half.
It was worse out west. Not only did it go awry after the break but a sloppy response to the first whistle was just as harmful.
Llanelli got on the front foot on each occasion through crossing the whitewash and, unlike last week when they took the foot off the gas, made it a drubbing at the end.
It cannot be denied that Parc y Scarlets is a magnificent facility but it is not an arena that lends itself to Premiership rugby in front of sparse crowd on a Thursday evening.
If John Terry wants some time in isolation to gather his thoughts then he could do worse than heading down the A4138 on game day.
Given the number of West Walians in the Ebbw set-up it was a venue and occasion that the visitors should have relished.
Yet the signs were ominous for Vale with just two minutes on the clock.
One thing is for sure against a Llanelli side that can cut open the better sides in the Premiership – adopt a tackling style similar to a turnstile and there is little chance of your line staying uncrossed.
Unfortunately Vale started in just such a manner and allowed centre Nic Reynolds the easiest of tries after just two minutes with fly-half Steve Shingler turning it into a seven-pointer.
Thankfully Ebbw woke up and started snaring their men, led as always by the superb number eight Rhys Williams.
They also got to grips with playing into a howling gale and cut out the mystifying tactic of box kicks, a surefire way to lose yards.
It has to be said that the wind was something of a leveller and allowed the Steelmen to live off the hosts' errors and stay in the game.
They also strung together some nice stuff, much of it involving rapid winger (and former Bridgend Town midfielder) Morgan Harries.
Shingler had kicked an 18th-minute penalty but Ebbw would have been content with a 10-0 deficit with the conditions in their favour after the break.
But Dale Ford, the exciting young winger who scored twice in the cup win last week, went over in the corner in injury time after an overlap had been worked.
Then Shingler wriggled over after three minutes of the second half and a losing bonus point became the aim rather than the win given that prior to kick-off Ebbw had crossed for just eight tries in 13 games.
Full-back Gareth James got Vale on the board with a penalty but Llanelli notched a bonus point that took them up to third in the table through Ford and the pain was piled on through Jason Howells, Jonny Lewis (3).
Defeat is hard to take as it is but the way that the shambolic Steelmen capitulated, once again through appalling tackling, is far harder to stomach.
Llanelli: J Lewis, I Evans (J Howells 62), N Reynolds, S Martin, D Ford, S Shingler (C Keenan 69), J James (R Lane 76), M Evans (S Hopkins 55), C Hawkins (captain), J Corsi (L Lewis 76), A Powell, N White (J Galley 69), D Eager, N Cudd, S Phillips (R Lawrence 55).
Scorers: tries – N Reynolds, D Ford (2), S Shingler, J Howells, J Lewis (3); conversions – S Shingler, D Ford (2); penalty – S Shingler Ebbw Vale: G James, T Watkins (A Bevan 66), N Wilcox, S Powell (M Lewis 66), M Harries, A Williams, N Jones (A Jenkins 66), M Jeffreys (A Murphy 69, N Eaves74), M Williams (J Vaughan 27), M Jones, P Arnold, M Griffin (captain), R Jenkins, T Mabbutt, R Williams (J Griffiths 40).
Scorer: penalty – G James Referee: Huw Griffiths (WRU) Argus star man: Rhys Williams (even though he played just one half)