Bedwas RFC 23 Ebbw Vale RFC 22
Principality Welsh Premiership, Monday 26th December 2016.
Match report and photography by Ian Lovell.
Despite a brave second half fight back by Ebbw Vale, Aaron Bramwell’s late try clinched the win for Bedwas and most importantly a top eight finish. Ebbw on the other hand host Cardiff on New Year’s Eve knowing only a win will ensure a top eight finish.
In what turned out a tight, evenly fought contest Bedwas were first on the board courtesy of a Richard Powell penalty after Ebbw were adjudged off their feet at a ruck. Powell had the opportunity to double the lead after 12 minutes after the visitors were penalised at a scrum but his shot at goal went wide.
Both sides competed strongly but handling errors and penalties conceded saw neither add to their points tally.
The turning point came midway through the half as Ebbw’s Josh Lewis was sinbinned for an alleged tip tackle on his opposite number. It looked a harsh decision but under the current directives the referee had no option other than to issue a yellow card and a somewhat dumbfounded Lewis trudged off.
From the ensuing penalty Bedwas cleared to touch. Joe Davies claimed the ball from the lineout and quickly moved the ball to Luke Crane who passed onto Powell whose flat pass set Robson Blake through to bulldoze through the home defence before offloading to the supporting Mike Callow who dived gleefully under the posts. Powell added the conversion and Bedwas were 10 points ahead.
Powell had an opportunity to extend the Bedwas lead after half an hour but his penalty drifted wide. Six minutes later Bedwas prolonged possession saw the ball moved across the field and quick hands from Powell, Callow and Bramwell put James Benjamin in for a try he ran in from 25 metres. Powell’s kick hit an upright and bounced clear.
Ebbw came out for the second half in a determined mood and scored their first try within 90 seconds of the restart. Bedwas failed to clear their lines and a smart kick through saw a foot race between Bedwas’ Pat Lewis and Ebbw’s Craig Duncan with the decision going to the television match official who after what seemed an age studying the replay awarded the try to Ebbw. Josh Lewis’ conversion went wide.
Powell had a further opportunity to add to his tally after 46 minutes but again his penalty kick went wide.
Ebbw upped the ante and Dai Langdon crashed through two Bedwas defenders to cross by the posts, Lewis’ conversion narrowing the gap to three points. It was all Ebbw Vale at this point as Bedwas struggled to gain any momentum and just short of the hour a neatly taken drop goal by Dorian Jones put his side level.
A Richard Powell penalty three minutes settled Bedwas nerves but it was all in vain five minutes later as a series of Ebbw close range forward drives was rewarded with a try for backrower Rhys Clarke who was driven over from close range. Josh Lewis’ conversion put his side ahead for the first time in the contest.
It looked as though all may have been lost for Bedwas but with five minutes remaining on the clock a series of forward drives created some space for Aaron Bramwell to gleefully dive in for a try to put his side one point ahead. Powell’s conversion went wide but Bedwas held on through a very nervy last five minutes to claim the win.
This win sees Bedwas rise to fourth on 42 points with two games left to play before the league splits in two. The first of these games sees Bedwas host Llanelli RFC on New Year’s Eve, kick off 1-30pm. With 8th placed Cardiff (35 points) travelling to 9th place Ebbw Vale (34 points) the loser of that game will not be able to surpass Bedwas’ 42 points thus Bedwas are assured of a top eight finish.