Vale go top with fifth win on the spin
EBBW Vale finally made it to the top of the National Championship table, although their fifth straight win since the season’s start meant a first defeat of the campaign for county rivals Newbridge.
Elsewhere, Blackwood travelled back from Margam-based Tata Steel losers for a fourth time in five outings, and spare a thought for Pontypool.
The beleaguered former kings of Welsh rugby appeared on the brink of posting a first win in 2012-2013 – only for a last-kick conversion attempt from Bridgend Athletic’s Steve Lewis to hit a post and go over to give his side a dramatic victory.
Ebbw Vale and Newbridge met at Eugene Cross Park each seeking a fifth successive win, with the home side boosting a try count of 30 in only four fixtures.
The visitors had been no slouches in their quartet of games, crossing 18 times, and the game was expected to be a close encounter.
However, that’s not the way matters panned out as Ebbw Vale’s try-scoring exploits continued, no fewer than five being recorded in a fine 37-7 success which takes them above Bargoed.
Ebbw Vale head coach Neil Edwards expressed his delight at the success: “It was a good performance once we got going and we are obviously very pleased with the result.
“We started OK, but took a while to really get going and we had to react because there was a lot of pressure on us to get the win.
“We have a good squad here and matters are going well at the moment, but no-one here is getting carried away at all.
“We now need to kick on from here because there are some very difficult challenges ahead for us.”
Newbridge team manager Darryl Williams was gracious in defeat and revealed his side had deserved to lose.
“We made too many mistakes while they were very clinical in their finishing,” he continued.
“However, we now have another derby on Saturday and a game against Pontypool gives us an opportunity to bounce back.”
Scoring five-pointers for Ebbw Vale were number eight and skipper Ronny Keynes, wingers Tom Ashmead and Wes Cuncliffe, centre John Lewis and replacement scrum-half Josh Davies.
Outside-half Dan Haymond kicked three conversions and a penalty and Lewis landed a penalty, while Newbridge had one moment of glory a minute after the interval, when former Ebbw Vale scrum-half Tom Edwards charged down a Haymond clearance for a try which stand-off Neil Burnett converted.
Blackwood lost 37-9 at Tata Steel, where only outside-half Josh Steer managed to get on the score-sheet with a trio of penalties.
Pontypool entertained Bridgend Athletic searching for that elusive first victory and seemed almost there as tries from outside-half Elliott Goodman, Matt Thomas and Clayton Gullis and seven points from the boot of the latter had them 22-16 ahead going into the final minute.
But that last-gasp converted try plus Whitland’s 20-20 draw at Glamorgan Wanderers pushed Pontypool down to the very bottom of the 14-strong division.
“We are all extremely gutted,” said a hugely disappointed Pontypool head coach Mike Hook.
“In the final analysis, we made too many errors, although we are taking a lot of positives despite it being another loss.
“We see certain aspects of our game which are fine and if we can improve on those which aren’t, then we are progressing.”
On Saturday, all four local clubs clash – Ebbw Vale visit Blackwood, while Newbridge host Pontypool.
l In Division One East, Tredegar lost 39-17 at home to Merthyr, while in the SWALEC Bowl there were first-round wins for Brynithel, Chepstow, Crumlin, New Tredegar and RTB Ebbw Vale. St Julian’s HSOB also progressed via a walk-over against Girlings, who scratched from the competition.