EBBW Vale left Church Bank after their top of the table Premiership clash with Llandovery dreaming of what might have been after they were beaten 17-15 by the reigning champions.

If it was a revenge mission completed by the Drovers, who lost at Eugene Cross Park earlier in the season, it was also a chance missed by The Steelmen to close the gap at the top.

“The performance was really pleasing, and we had two kicks to win it in the last five minutes. It was a game we should have won, if I’m honest,” said Ebbw head coach Jason Strange.

The home win made it 1-1 between the two sides this season and there will be a third instalment when the two sides locking horns again on 2 March at Aberavon in the semi-finals of the WRU Premiership Cup.

South Wales Argus: Ebbw Vale fly-half Evan LloydEbbw Vale fly-half Evan Lloyd (Image: NCR Photography)

The harsh reality for the visitors is that had Evan Lloyd, normally so clinical from the kicking tee, taken either of the two penalty opportunities he was presented with in those final five minutes, it there would have been a different ending.

Lloyd kicked the visitors ahead but hooker Craig Thomas’ try, converted by full-back Jack Maynard, along with a first half penalty try, had the Drovers 14-3 to the good at half time.

Maynard extended that lead with a penalty after the re-start, but Ebbw fought back in the second half. They were awarded a penalty try of their own before second row Dylan Bartlett went over.

Lloyd missed the conversion and with it the chance to level matters and then, agonisingly for Ebbw, he was unable to take advantage after Llandovery were twice penalised, handing Ebbw a shot for victory.

Ebbw’s defeat enabled Newport to move to within five points of their Gwent rivals with three games in hand following their fourth successive bonus point win, 27-10 at home against Aberavon. The win also took them to within 10 points of Llandovery with a game in hand.

Three of Newport’s four tries were scored in the first half courtesy of lock Josh Skinner, scrum-half Che Hope and wing Elliot Frewen.

Centre Jon Morris secured maximum points after the re-start with Jac Lloyd adding a penalty in added time to round off the win after Carwyn Penny had converted the Hope and Morris tries.

Victory came at a cost to the Black & Ambers, however, as former Wales U20 prop Dan Suter suffered a serious Achilles injury.

This victory came in Newport’s first home match since 18 November and was the first of three consecutive matches at Newport Stadium with Carmarthen Quins and then RGC to come next.

“It was a little bit scrappy and, after looking back over the game, there are definitely areas of our performance that need improvement,” said Newport head coach Ty Morris.

Pontypool’s game against Merthyr fell foul of the weather.