Carmarthen Quins 26 Ebbw Vale 24
The statistics between the two Clubs in the Premier Division read Played 8 with Quins winning 7. Impressive but they bore no resemblance to the task in hand this time. Ebbw’s recent history was similar to the Quins, both had been relegated but had fought their way back into the Premier Division. The ‘Steelmen’ arrived in top spot in the League but the Quins Coaching staff had done their homework and put a plan in place to exploit the Vales weakness.
The Ebbw point’s difference was just 30 points after 6 matches, whilst the Quins difference was 91 after 5 matches. All of their League matches had been tight affairs so the plan was to keep the ball alive and moving. The playing conditions favoured the Vale forwards, so the ball had to be kept away from them.
The Quins were quick to put their plan into action and the early minutes were kept in the Vale 22. By moving the ball the Quins took play into the visitors half and Jason Harries was on hand to take full advantage of a loose pass and dash 30 yards to score in the corner. Dan Jones added the kick from the touch line.
The Vale side had to use the elements to get out of trouble only to see the Quins quick to counter attack and keep play in the visitors half.
The Quins eight were able to hold the Vale scrum but the visitors spoiling tactics made the line out difficult.
The Vale side were caught off side and a quickly taken tap penalty gave them the chance to see Jason Harries chip on and win the race to reach the ball and his slick handling gave Rhodri Clancy the chance to waltz over for a try only to see Dan Jones conversion hit the upright. He recovered well and minutes later he was able to put over a penalty from 30 yards. The Quins were clearly quicker than their opponents and were giving their supporters plenty to be satisfied with.
From a line out however Ebbw Vale were able to work their trade mark 'rolling maul'
and gain 30 yards for Nathan Preece to power over for his sides first try. Ethan Davies converted.
A Quins player was yellow carded in extra time and this gave the Vale side another chance to use their mauling tactic for Wes Cunliffe to go over. Davies brought the visitors back to within a point at the interval. The half time score was 18-17.
Whatever was said at the interval certainly worked as the Quins went on the offensive from the restart and a pin point kick ahead gave Ellis Lloyd the chance to smother the full back and Jason Harries was up to gather and cross for a brilliant try. Again Dan Jones conversion hit the upright and stayed out. Mid way through the half Dan Jones made amends and put over another penalty. The Quins were 26-17 ahead and looked far more threatening with ball in hand.
Right on the 80minutes from a line out near the Quins line the Vales rolling maul took them over for a try and Ian Smerdon took his side to within two points of the Quins score. The home pack used all their experience despite another yellow card to take the spoils and with it go into second place in the Premiership with Ebbw Vale dropping to third.
Ebbw Vale clearly showed they belong in the top flight and many of their supporters will feel they could have pinched it at the end. In reality however the Quins were ahead on the scoreboard for the entire game and Ebbw were always chasing the result.
Next Friday night the Quins visit the Gnoll to take on Neath and it is hoped they will have all their missing players back for selection.