EBBW Vale missed out on the chance to close the gap on league leaders Llandovery in the Indigo Premiership as they left Aberavon with nothing following a shock 24-13 defeat.

The Drovers still lead the second-placed Steelmen by five points and can extend that gap with victory at Swansea this weekend.

Everything started well enough for Ebbw against a side that was coming off the back of a 64-26 hammering against Cardiff five days earlier.

The Wizards had lost their previous four matches and hadn’t won at home since the opening day of the season.

Ebbw Vale dominated the opening quarter and were first to score with a try from Owen Conquer after a snipe by scrum half Jonathan Evans from a close-range scrum.

The Wizards had been defending for their lives and refused to buckle as they had done at the Arms Park last time out.

They managed to score with their first chance, when hooker Cam Lewis burrowed over from a driving line-out move and went into the break only trailing by 7-5.

Former Ospreys wing Jay Baker then latched onto a neat cross kick two minutes into the second half to run in for a try that gave his side the lead.

Evan Lloyd replied with two penalties to edge the Steelmen back in front, but on the hour mark a Bradley Roderick kick through and regather paved the way for replacement scrum half Aaron Hemmings to cross to put the Wizards ahead 19-13. 

Then a Frankie Jones try in the 74th minute broke the hearts of Ebbw as it earned the home side a bonus point and ensured the visitors left with nothing. 

“Aberavon is always a tough place to come, and I thought it was pretty even throughout the game, but they took their chances and ground out the win,” said Ebbw skipper Dom Franchi.

“I’m still proud of our boys because we dug in deep and fought right to the end. It’s a long season and you always have a purple patch.

“The important thing is how you respond the week after you have a loss. We’ll just try to learn from our mistakes and get better.”

Ebbw’s next league game is on December 16 when they entertain Carmarthen Quins and they will hope to be Premiership Cup semi-finalists by then.

Next Saturday holders Cardiff are the visitors to Eugene Cross Park in the last eight.