Ebbw Vale succumbed to champions-elect Neath on Friday night in the best game of the season. Ebbw eventually went down 12-22 after leading for most of the game. Eventually Neath’s greater strength in depth showed through against our makeshift team.
From their first choice XV Ebbw were missing wing Simon Hunt (7s with England), backs James Lewis and Rob Lewis (7s duty with Wales), outside half Dai Langdon, back rows John Bowd and Rhys Williams (all injured) and Nio Aiono (suspended). Ebbw gave a debut start to 17-year-old number 8 James Thomas, who had a good game.
Up front, the Ebbw pack took on and for most of the game beat Neath. The highlight of the game was some wonderful counter-rucking which earned a number of turnovers for Ebbw.
Ebbw lead 6-3 at half time and were still ahead 12-10 with just 20 minutes to go. The ref managed to be the only person in the stadium not to see the forward pass in the build-up to Neath’s second try. Eventually though, heart and a pile of great defensive tackling wasn’t enough, and a couple of late tries won it for Neath.
Scorers: 4 penalties for Aaron Bramwell
Man of the match: John McPhail for an enormous game against his former club.