B&As ‘steel’ derby victory at the death

By Rhys Owain Jones

Newport continued their incredible run of form with a late victory at the home of one of their fiercest Gwent rivals.

A closely fought battle throughout a pulsating 80-minutes and more saw the visitors triumph by 31-25 over the Steelmen of Ebbw Vale.

The Black & Ambers had already secured a play-off place two weeks prior to this afternoon’s meeting, with Ebbw hot on their heels aiming to snatch one of the top two spaces, thus earning a home semi-final in the post-season.

With all kinds of weather descending on the heads of the valleys, including spells of heavy rain, and even hailstones, descending on Eugene Cross Park before kick-off, the pitch would likely not suit the B&As’ style of play. However, it was the visitors who got the first try of the afternoon.

Ten minutes after Evan Lloyd slotted over a penalty for the hosts in the first two minutes, lightning Lloyd Lewis broke through the defensive wall inside his own half to sprint ahead and feed Che Hope to dive over. Matt O’Brien added the extras in what was a perfect afternoon for him with the boot.

Lewis’ 40-yard dash to the endzone would have certainly given NFL hopeful, Louis Rees-Zammit, a run for his money at this week’s NFL Pro Day.

Vale soon responded with a try of their own when a Newport lineout on their own five-metre line went slightly too long and Ebbw capitalised. Some phases later, the ball spread wide left to winger Jordan Thomas to cross over, with Evan Lloyd adding the extra two points.

O’Brien soon levelled the score with a penalty kick, then Ebbw were made to pay for their ill-discipline. Second-row, Dylan Bartlett, saw yellow for a dangerous tackle with scrum-half, Jon Evans, joining him minutes later for not releasing on the floor as the B&As were inches away from a second try.

It didn’t take long for that second try to come as the visitors took full advantage of the extra resources. A simple, but effective, O’Brien cross-kick found Elliot Frewen on the left wing who caught the ball, stepped inside, fooling the defender, and touched down.

Evan Lloyd then added a penalty kick for the home side shortly before the break, with both assistants agreeing his effort was unsuccessful only for referee, Ian Davies, to overrule their decision.

HANNER AMSER: Ebbw Vale 13-17 B&As

It took less than two minutes after the restart for the Black & Ambers to grab a third try and extend their lead. A simple, but clinical, catch-and-drive phase on the Ebbw Vale five-metre line saw Henry Palmer cross over for his ninth of the season and second against the Steelmen this season.

On 54 minutes, Newport almost scored their fourth. Attacking in Ebbw’s twenty-two, O’Brien’s cheeky chip over the backline was chased by Chay Foster-Smith against a defender who casually thought the bounce would go his way to claim a dropout. Foster-Smith was convinced he had the first bit of downward pressure. The referee and assistant, however, disagreed.

Into the final quarter, and the Steelmen proved why they’re such tough competitors. Two tries in five minutes turned the game on its head. The catch-and-drive move, which had helped the B&As accumulate a plethora of points this season, became their enemy.

With Joe Franchi finishing both moves and Evan Lloyd converting Franchi’s second score, Ebbw Vale took the lead for the first time during the afternoon, much to the delight of their passionate supporters.

That one-point lead was to last until the eighty-minute mark. Newport, desperate not to break their ten-game winning streak, especially against one of their fiercest rivals, gave everything to ensure that wouldn’t happen.

During the first minute of injury time, the Black & Ambers were knocking the door phase after phase, time and time again. Eventually, agonisingly close to the line, knocking the door turned into a knock-on. The Ebbw players jumped for joy.

Four minutes later, Vale had a chance to clear their lines from behind their goal-line and kick to touch. They missed touch, and instead found the hands of substitute, Lewis Bates, who ignited another attack. Phases later, into Ebbw’s twenty-two, the B&As were banging on the door and eventually the ball was fed wide, slightly too far wide. The terrace roared as the ball tumbled into touch and, again, the hosts were convinced they had won.

In that subsequent lineout, still in Ebbw’s twenty-two, the ball was stolen by Newport captain, Ben Roach. This ignited yet another attack, with nearly six extra minutes on the clock.

Just over a minute later, and the B&As had reached their rivals’ five-metre line once again. Phase after phase took its toll on the defenders and eventually, Luke Crane found a man running to his right who smashed open the defensive door and bulldozed his way over in the corner to snatch a late victory in the most emphatic of fashions.

That man was Elliott Ferriman, who had not only bagged the bonus point for the B&As, but had also scored his first-ever try for the club in 40 appearances since making his debut in September 2021. What a time to do it!

There was still some time for the hosts to salvage a win from the jaws of defeat, however the B&As did enough to close out an entertaining encounter and earn their 11th (eleventh) bonus-point win on the bounce.

SGÔR TERFYNOL: Ebbw Vale 25-31 B&As

As incredible a win as that was, it did come at a cost. Rhys Jenkins was forced off after 12 minutes with a suspected torn bicep, meaning he will likely miss the remainder of the season. We send ‘Jenko’ our best wishes.

Only two more points separate Newport from a guaranteed top-two finish and a home semi-final in May. This could potentially see another clash against today’s visitors, with the Steelmen only needing eight points from their final four matches to secure a place in the top three.

Before that, though, Newport Stadium will play host to the battle of first versus second, when Llandovery make the 130-mile round trip to the ‘Port on Thursday evening (kick-off is at 7.30pm).

There is a feel-good factor around the club at the moment and a real opportunity to bring some more silverware to the city. We cannot do this, however, without your support. So make your voices heard and get behind…

Your CITY,


Your CLUB.

#COTP #YmlaenCasnewydd