EBBW Vale ground out an 18-5 win in a gritty match against Pontypridd at Eugene Cross Park on Saturday, writes Ian Golden.

The visitors had the bulk of the possession throughout a game that was primarily played in the Ebbw half, but the home side took their chances where it mattered to seal a vital win in their battle against relegation.

Ebbw had the first opportunity to score and they didn’t let it pass, Dan Haymond kicking a 30 metre penalty in the eighth minute.

They extended their advantage on the quarter hour. Mike Powell opened up the Ponty defence to set up winger Aaron Grabham to run home. Haymond’s conversion attempt was short.

Ponty kept pressing for a try back, spending much of the next 20 minutes winning scrums in the Ebbw half and trying to get over their opponents’ line. They eventually did touch down, only for the touch-judge to have his flag up for off-side. Ebbw went into half-time clinging onto their 8-0 lead.

The visitors continued to press for a score in the second half, but the wall of white, red and green were keeping them out.

That was until the 53rd minute when Dan Hill was sinbinned and Ponty chose to scrum down from the penalty. Following numerous resets, Ponty eventually got the ball out to winger Morgan Richards who dived over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Straight away, despite still being down to 14-men, Ebbw addressed the balance with Corey Talbot mauling his way over for his side’s second try of the game. Haymond converted and Ebbw moved up to a 10-point lead.

Once again, Pontypridd kept pressuring the Ebbw line to get a try back but the home side continued to stand firm. With ten minutes remaining, Ebbw gave away two line-outs near to their own five metre line but after Ponty failed to make any ground on either of them, they gave away yet another scrum and then replaced their whole front row.

Still camped inside their own half, Ebbw at least had won back possession for the final five minutes, and after eventually getting inside the Ponty half, Haymond kicked a penalty in the final seconds to seal the win.

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond, M Powell, P King, D Franchi, A Grabham, R Evans, M Flanagan, R Jones, D Whiting, R Sevenoaks, C Talbot, A Sweet, D Hill, D Rubasniak, L Young. Replacements: M Blake, J Harries, L Garrett, M Ayling, H Harding, D Jones, D Thomas, E Rosser.

Scorers: Tries: A Grabham, C Talbot. Conversions: D Haymond. Penalties: D Haymond (2)

Pontypridd: C Shepherd, A Webber, M Grady, D Lockyer, M Richards, B Jones, J Raikes, B Stephens, R Jones, M Bosanko, S Moore, C Dicomidis, K Parker, S Parry, A Lawrence. Replacements: N Huish, C Reynolds, C Hicks, L Evans, K Evans, D Bird, L Rowlands, T Rowlands.

Scorer: Try: M Richards

Man of the Match: Corey Talbot (Ebbw Vale)