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Bargoed 20 – 24 Ebbw Vale

The first game of the revised Premiership season got underway in cracking fashion at a balmy Bargoed Park with the Steelmen clinging on to foil a stunning fight back by the Bulls. The day, however, began in sombre mood with a minute’s silence for young Ben Thomas who died in tragic circumstances last week

The first quarter was a bit of an arm wrestle – the only scores coming from the boots of Matthew Lewis for the home side cancelling out an earlier penalty from Ebbw’s Callum Hall.

The Steelmen were the first to cross the line with number eight Jonathan Davies lurking on the wing to be on the receiving end of a speculative chip from Callum Hall, the big man juggled but hung on to the ball to dot down at the corner flag for an unconverted try to make it 3-8 after 21 minutes.

Ebbw Vale looked strong behind with some crisp passing between the backs but they found Bargoed well organised in defence and much of the first half was played out between the two twenty twos.

With the clock winding down towards half time full back Matthew Lewis set off on a run from his own twenty two, sensing space down the left wing, he put in a long, perfectly weighted grubber kick which bobbled and caused confusion amongst the Ebbw defenders. Centre Jordan Howells followed up and pounced on the fumble to cross in the corner. Lewis cemented his part in the try by nailing the conversion from the touchline to give Bargoed a 10-8 lead at the break.

The Bulls extended their lead five minutes into the second half with a well struck Lewis penalty from 40 metres following a scrum collapse and that set the pattern for the rest of the game with Bargoed dominant in the scrums. However, the Steelmen hit back with two penalties of their own, firstly a howitzer from Dragons full back Carl Meyer and then replacement outside half Lewis Dennet converted one to take the score to 13-14 on the hour.

Dennet was on the scoreboard again just three minutes later – this time with a controversial drop goal, well taken with the pass on his bootlaces but with more than a hint of a knock on but referee Ian Davies was happy that it went back and signalled so.

Bargoed looked out of it with ten minutes left as wing Toby Fricker finished off a fine move to run in from 30 metres with Dennet adding the conversion to make it 13-24.

However, the home side used the bench well and appeared to finish the stronger and that was particularly the case upfront with the pack pummelling away but with Ebbw holding out. Finally they cracked and Ian Davies’ patience gave way with a penalty try coming from a Bargoed scrum driven backwards over the Steelmen’s line before they infringed. No conversions now for penalty tries so the Bulls were back in it at 20-24 as the clock passed the eighty mark.

Bargoed regained possession from the restart and more drama was to come, they attacked the Ebbw line but spilled the ball in the tackle. Thinking it was game over, Ebbw kicked the ball dead not seeing assistant referee Sean Brickell’s flag outstretched for Bargoed’s Duane Dyer being tackled without the ball. A penalty ensued and the referee allowed the line out to be taken following the kick to the twenty two. The Bulls pressed but couldn’t quite pull off the most unlikely of comebacks and Ebbw clung on to win by 20 points to 24 with the home side having to be content with a losing bonus point.

Bargoed RFC

Ebbw Vale RFC

26 August 2017

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