I can’t find a lot of positive stuff to say about Ebbw Vale’s 3-27 loss at home to Llandovery on Saturday.
EyeJay’s blog report on The Steel Daffodil gives a fair reflection, as does the official Ebbw Vale website.
My take? Shockingly poorly organised, low morale, woeful effort. A complete turnaround from all the good work of the week before. Llandovery were gifted an interception try and another from a wayward lineout 5 yeards from our own line.
Our 9th place in the table belies our poor run of results since Christmas. It’s just a good job that its only one team down (via a playoff) and that Pontypool are 16 points behind with just 8 games to go.
For the first time in my life, and that’s 34 years of watching Ebbw Vale, I left before the end, although the fact that Ava was with me and she wasn’t enjoying the rain influenced that. By all accounts I didn’t miss anything though.
Roy Lewis’ wisdom shines through in his review when he says “all we ask is for the spirit and endeavour shown against Cardiff to return.” And on the subject much debated at the game and on the forum afterwards, I agree that “we shout FOR the Steelmen, not at them.”
A lot of what Ebbw is up against right now is summed up with these comments posted on the forum:
“Extremely disappointing though yesterday was, and it was, we all need to remember that the club is in a transitional stage.
“We have lost the following players from last year's squad: Ian George, Neil Edwards, Will Thomas, John Bowd, Neil Aioni, John McPhail, Simon Hunt, Brian Shelbourne & (virtually) Will Jones & Robert Lewis & you don't replace players of that calibre overnight - it takes time (& unfortunately money), & we haven't replaced them yet.
“Furthermore, we lost our headcoach in season, then his replacement & we have lost James Thomas, Aaron Coundley, Rhys Jenkins, & Dai Langdon to U20 calls.
“At times we have had 13 players 22 & under on the park.
“We clearly have a vaccuum when it comes to a senior player group, but the club is working on that.
“It is Mat McCarthy's 1st season with the club, and to be honest the fact that he is still looking forward to a good end of season run in & to next season, speaks volumes for his resolve. It is a new club to Mat, - he does not have geographical or family attachments which some of us have that go back generations.
“In recent weeks their training program has been severely restricted by the weather - including no training for 2 weeks - the playing program is disrupted by the 6Nations - & it shows. “So what do we do.......we deal with it.
“Rugby is cyclical & we support the team through these bad times. That is not to say they are beyond criticism for they are not & if approached will take it on the chin. But they should not, EVER, be subject to personal abuse.
“There are some very good players in the team which the club will want to retain, and I know that some of those players are attracted to EV because they find it a friendly environment....they could get more money elsewhere. If it becomes an environment of hostility then even the good ones will not want to stay.....& those 'supporters' responsible for driving them away should hang their heads in shame.”
Team: Andrew McLaughlan, Ieuan Coombes, Kristian Owen (c), Shaun Powell, James Lewis; Aaron Bramwell, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Mathew Williams, Marc Jones; Jonathan Griffiths, Nick Eaves; Morgan Allen, Jamie Ringer, Gavin Lucas. Subs: Jamie Davies, Richard Wilkes, Craig Jones, Simon Pengelley, Ieuan Evans, Andrew Williams, Oliver Halford.
Scorers: a solitary Aaron Bramwell penalty (which ironically, was a longer kick than the two he missed to deny Ebbw a win the week before).
My man of the match: Nobody stood out, but at a push I’ll give it to Andrew McLaughlan, who sometimes looked like Canute trying to keep back the tide.