Winger Charlie Johnson was in fine form for The Wanderers.
Ebbw Vale 9
Glamorgan Wanderers 13
“The team that deals with the slippery conditions the best is the team that will prevail” announced manager Darren Joy before the Wanderers encounter with Ebbw vale at Eugene Cross Park.
On a grey but surprisingly mild afternoon in Gwent the Steelmen were out of the blocks first. Moving the ball swiftly between phases they probed for an opening but found the Wanderers defence not willing to give an inch. Determined tackling and some superb jackaling from the visitors kept the Wanderers line intact but after 11 minutes Ebbw were eventually awarded a penalty at a ruck and the home side had their first scoring chance. Outside half Dai Langdon missed the kick but the pressure was still on. After a quarter of an hour the Wanderers had their first real possession and Luke Evans created space and broke well. Nathan Trevett was on hand to carry the ball but the Steelmen defended well and cleared the threat. After 20 minutes the Wanderers finally entered the home side 22. A neat kick by Scott Sneddon gave the visitors a lineout but after several drives a crossing offence allowed the home side to take the play back into Wanderers territory.
After 24 minutes the stalemate was broken. The visitors transgressed at a ruck and Langdon stepped up to open the scoring for the Steelmen, 3-0. Despite the lack of possession the Wanderers were starting to get more and more into the game. Slick support work and close quarter driving made the home side have to work harder in defence but despite good driving from Scott Andrews and Ross Johnson the Steelmen remained ahead. As the half entered its final stages the visitors scrum started to get on top with the front row of Trevett, Johnson and Andrews gaining ascendancy. This allowed the Wanderers to play off the front foot and they gained the lead with a fine try from Gareth Knight. Charlie Johnson made a superb break in midfield and he found Richie T on his shoulder. Thomas galloped to the line and fed Gareth Knight who carried two defenders over the line with him to open the Wanderers scoring. Sneddon converted and the Wanderers took a 3-7 lead into the half time break.
Steve Cullen taking on the Ebbw Vale defence
Half time Humph says “Scrummage dominant and with a breeze behind them all they need to do is kick it into the corners and put them under pressure. Play sensible rugby and we’ll win this by 20 points”
The Wanderers started the second half as they finished the first. Ben Rose pressurised the Ebbw defence with some good jackaling and the visitors were awarded a penalty which Sneddon converted to increase the lead to 3-10. Both sides indulged in some tennis kicking the ball back and forth whilst awaiting a mistake but both defences managed any threat comfortably. A neat cross kick from Sneddon took play deep into the Vale 22 and from the lineout Jamie Jones made a superb break only to be hauled down just short of the line. The Wanderers pack were gaining control and the home side lineout and scrum came under more and more pressure. The Wanderers coaches started to ring the changes and soon afterwards the Steelmen were awarded another penalty which Langdon converted to reduce the arrears to 6-10. Josh Navidi came on for his first Wanderers start and almost immediately he was in the action chasing a Loxton kick and causing gaining a turnover for the visitors. Despite having more of the play it was the Wanderers who now found no way through a determined defence. Jamie Jones drove well in midfield but the killer blow could not be found. As the game entered the final few minutes the home side began to use their possession with more of a threat. After several phases from a lineout a penalty reduced the score to 9-10 and the visitors needed to hang on. Once again it was the Wanderers pack who came up with the goods causing a turnover and penalty and Sneddon stepped up to seal the victors with the final kick of the match. The Wanderers were victors 9-13.
“Scrappy not pretty but we’ll take the win. A difficult place to come up here” reflected a happy Chris Ower at the final whistle.
Author: Alyn Humphreys