Buoyed by last season’s heroics, Ebbw Vale’s first game of the season saw the crowd in an expectant mood. The buzz was clear for all to feel, as Ebbw fielded a side with five new caps and started brightly enough.
Without really breaking Swansea’s defence, Ebbw had the upper hand and were good value for a 6-3 lead late in the first half when the match’s turning-point arrived. From quite a distance away on the bank, it looked as though Neil Edwards’ jump at the line out was interfered with, and the referee blew for a penalty form the ensuing maul/ruck/pile of players. He then red-carded Neil Edwards for what he indicated was a kick to a Swansea player on the floor. Swansea quickly capitalised and went in at half time leading 11-6.
In many seasons past (except when playing Newport!) being a man down would have sent the towel being thrown in. But the Ebbw Vale of the past couple of seasons are made of sterner stuff, and won the second half, but not quite the game, going down 25-26.
There’s a new bonus point system this season, the same as is used in the Tri-Nations and the Magners League, so Ebbw came away with a point for losing by less than 7 points.
As the Ebbw website says, Ebbw supporters were left to ruminate on what might have been achieved with 15 men on the park. There’s a match report in the Western Mail.
Scorers: Tries for Kristian Owen, new prop Anthony Lott and substitute back Ross Watts. Two penalties and two conversions for new outside-half Aaron Bramwell.
Highlights: A selection of massive hits by flanker Nio Aiono (pictured), deservedly voted man of the match. Thanks to Graham’s website for the picture.
Lowlight: Had to be the sending off, which effectively decided the game.
Crowd highlight: As is now traditional, the first penalty to Ebbw of the season is greeted with calls of “All the time, ref!” and “They’ve been going it all season!”