by Howard Evans
Aberavon had gained the try-bonus by half-time and it was just as well because for most of the second half the whistle dominated.
There was little rugby played in the second spell with both sides having players yellow-carded, but it was the fault of neither side as they tried their level best to play rugby.
However many spectators left feeling they did not get their moneys-worth and replacements of both sides waited and waited to get on.
Aberavon had made 11 changes, including two league debutants and the side played as if they certainly wanted a place in the forthcoming cup final.
The ‘Wizards’ tried to open play up at every opportunity and it is no criticism of the ‘Steelmen’ that they kept it tight and tackled their hearts out.
Though Aberavon had the slight edge in the scrum, where Rhys Fawcett excelled, they found the Ebbw pack as strong as any they have played against.
Both sides put in splendid tackling, but Aled Thomas found willing runners in centres Joe Gage and Chay Smith who made some fine bursts.
The Vale had several young players in their midst while Aberavon had the teenage Ben Williams at ‘7’ and 18-yr-old Ceri Lewis-Jenkins on a wing.
All those young men played well and how young Vale hooker Harry Bee lasted through the first half, hobbling badly, was astonishing.
Gage produced the form that won him Wales Youth caps thanks to the half-back combination of Thomas and Iwan Temblett.
In the pack, lock Rhodri Hughes carried on with a cut on his head that will probably need stitches as both sides went strong in the contact area.
It took Aberavon just five minutes to score through flanker Ashton Evans and soon after Temblett gave a splendid backflip to Smith, who raced over for Aled Thomas to convert.
Thomas then cleverly grubber-kicked for the flying Smith to somersault over as he touched down and Aled again converted.
Ebbw ground it out down to the home line and lock Ethan Doyle went over for fly-half Evan Lloyd to convert.
Just before the half-time whistle, the home scrum shunted and a penalty try was awarded for a 26-7 scoreline.
Early in the second spell, Aberavon’s fifth try came from the exciting running of Gage and Thomas goaled from the touch-line.
Thereafter, what rugby was allowed to be played was mostly on the Aberavon line before No 8 Alex Howes scored and Lloyd converted with a fine kick.
By then, both sides had a player yellow-carded.
Ebbw coaches Jason Strange and Geraint Lewis can both take a pat on the back for the way their side worked hard throughout, never taking a back step.
For Aberavon, it was another five-pointer well done, but the spectators were robbed of seeing flowing rugby in the second half.
Aberavon 33 – 14 Ebbw Vale
Chris Banfield (capt) (rep Stef Andrews 68 min); Cori Lewis-Jenkins, Chay Smith, Joe Gage, Frankie Jones; Aled Thomas (rep Will Price 54 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 68 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 68 min), Luke Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 68 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 68 min), Sam Pailor (rep Shay Smallman 68 min), Rhodri Hughes (off injured 80+1 min), Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Ben Williams (rep Lloyd Evans 54 min).
Cori Lewis-Jenkins appeared from the Ospreys; Sam Pailor appeared from Trebanos RFC; Ben Williams appeared from Gilfach Goch RFC. Cori Lewis-Jenkins made his debut for the club. Ben Williams league debut for the club.
T – Chay Smith (2), Ashton Evans, Penalty Try, Joe Gage
C – Aled Thomas (3)
Ebbw Vale Scorers:
T – Ethan Doyle, Alex Howe
C – Evan Lloyd (2)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Joe Gage
2 – Ashton Evans
3 – Chay Smith
05 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans (5 – 0)
14 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith & C – Aled Thomas (12 – 0)
23 min: Aberavon – T – Chay Smith & C – Aled Thomas (19 – 0)
27 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Ethan Doyle & C – Evan Lloyd (19 – 7)
39 min: Aberavon – T – Penalty Try (26 – 7)
39 min: Ebbw Vale – Yellow Card – A.N.Other
40+3 min: Half Time
53 min: Aberavon – T – Joe Gage & C – Aled Thomas (33 – 7)
69 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Lloyd Evans
71 min: Ebbw Vale – T – Alex Howe & C – Evan Lloyd (33 – 14)
80+6 min: Full Time