Division One East
Ebbw Vale 40 - Merthyr 10
Ebbw Vale are two bonus point wins away from the Division One title. That is the simple equation facing the Steelmen after another comprehensive home win on Saturday – this time against the dangerous Merthyr. A brace of tries from talismanic No 8 Nicky Coughlin set Ebbw on their way and they never looked back, running in six tries to pull clear of their Heads of the Valleys rivals. With the Vale confident of the full five points against bottom club Bedlinog in their final league game a week Saturday, the club are billing this weekend’s visit of Beddau to Eugene Cross Park as the biggest game of the season.
Ten points from the two remaining games would see the steelmen steal the title from Newbridge on win countback. Ebbw gained revenge aplenty for October’s defeat at the hands of Merthyr at the Wern. The visitors were first on the scoreboard with outside-half Neil Burnett slotting an early penalty for an Ebbw technical offence. After that, the first half was all one-way traffic and Merthyr’s cause was not helped by the red-carding of tight head-prop Rhys James for what appeared to be a malicious stamp at a ruck.
Two tries for the impressive Coughlin and a third from second-row Ashley Sweet, after a superb run by Danny Ajuwa, were all converted by Dorian Jones to give Ebbw a 21-3 advantage. At this stage, Merthyr were down to 12 men and Ebbw to 14 due to the number of forwards in the sin bin. Merthyr wing Malachy Mullins was also binned for a dangerous early tackle on an airborne Ebbw forward. Their woes continued after half time as Ebbw full-back Charlie Simpson secured the bonus point for the Steelmen after a well-worked back line move.
Further touchdowns followed for Danny Ajuwa and Tristan Davies to put the icing on the cake. In converting Davies’ try, outside-half Dorian Jones, son of former Ebbw favourite Kingsley Jones, passed 100 points for the season. Veteran ex-Welsh international Craig Morgan grabbed a late consolation try for Merthyr but there was only ever going to be one winner in this game. This was a thoroughly organised and composed performance by Ebbw who can end up as champions if they win both remaining games with bonus points.
But Ebbw coach Neil Edwards is determined to keep his troops’ feet on the ground. He said: “There is no talk of the title just yet. The message I’m trying to get across is enjoy the games, play for the club and to your ability and the results will come. “It goes with out saying now that this Saturday is going to be the biggest game of the season so far. If we play as we have been and get the bonus point then we can start to think about the following week, but until then it is feet on the floor and take it game by game.
“I hope again that Eugene Cross Park is filled with red, white and green-clad Ebbw supporters who give the boys loads of vocal support.”
Ebbw Vale squad: Charlie Simpson, Wes Cunliffe, Sam Collins, Tristan Davies (c), Danny Ajuwa, Dorian Jones, Derrick Tredray, Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Robert Sevenoaks, Kenny Stewart, Ashley Sweet, Ethan Matthews, Luke Price, Nicky Coughlin. Bench: Joshua Powell, Ben Parry, Neil Edwards, David Jones, Sam Mills.