In this National Cup Tie Beddau caused Principality Premiership Champions Ebbw Vale no little trouble. The Steelmen ultimately proved too hard a nut to crack and it was largely the fortitude of Beddau`s unyielding defence that held the visitors at bay.
From early on, though, it was Beddau setting the pace and putting their highly regarded opponents into some places they didn`t want to be. There was an injury to Beddau hooker Jack Dando that may have had a bearing on the outcome for while he was receiving treatment Ebbw took the ball into a collision and won a penalty. From there the ball went to touch. Nothing developed from the lineout but referee Mr Robert Price awarded another penalty and when the lineout catch and drive was again halted it yielded yet another penalty.
Once again the initial thrust from the lineout catch was halted but the patient Vale forwards regrouped and crept ever nearer the line until scrum half Dai Jones burrowed through the bodies to make the touch down. Dai Langdon converted.
Beddau`s pack continued to deliver a healthy share of the ball and it was Ebbw Vale making most of the tackles. There were a few glimpses of what the Premiership side could offer and it needed a couple of last ditch tackles from Adam Ashford and then Callum Wheeler to halt likely try-scoring moves but the half-time whistle arrived with just Vale`s 7 points on the board.
Vale began the second half with the highly talented former under-20 International Rob Lewis at scrum half and were singing from a modified hymn sheet. Pretty soon too the front row had been changed and with the lively Joe Franchi hooking and fresh props Ian George and Rob Sevenoaks in place a renewed pack took a bigger role in proceedings.
Now living on a leaner diet Beddau nevertheless continued to probe the Vale defences and a trip to halt a move that had seen David Francis and Hywel Chatham exchange passes was punished when Hywel Chatham struck the penalty. Beddau were not, however, able to spend much time in striking range as each collision resulted in an Ebbw Vale penalty enabling the Gwent side to dictate the tempo of the game. A flare up just outside the Beddau 22 could have led to something a little more serious but a word has to be said for Vale centre Dom Franchi who quickly got between the combatants to act as peacemaker. Mr Price was content to read the Riot Act and leave it at that.
Within a few minutes though Beddau lost their second hooker when Matthew Howells was shown yellow for not rolling away. The fourteen continued to defend stoutly and Vale`s much-vaunted line out was proving ineffective, so much so that Dai Langdon was eventually called upon to fire at the posts. He missed and Beddau sensed a final opportunity to steal the result. It was now Ebbw`s turn to defend but some indiscipline got them off the hook and a long kick took them back into the Beddau 22. The defence stood firm and when a ball was spilled in the tackle Mr Price called a halt to affairs with both sides showing the effects of a gruelling yet compelling afternoon`s activities.
Report by Lynn West