Rugby Union: Ebbw Vale's ebb and flow turns tide against floundering Cardiff

Ebbw Vale 24 Cardiff 9
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The Independent Online
THEY played Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" at the end of the game. It was easy to justify to the home fans because seconds earlier they had seen Alun Harries hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Swalec Cup holders with a 40-metre try.

In Welsh rugby circles beating Cardiff is on a par with toppling Manchester United. What made this victory all the sweeter was that Ebbw Vale had been beaten in their two League encounters, the last time at Eugene Cross Park a fortnight earlier. But they clearly learned from that occasion because Ebbw scored the only tries, dominated the game territorially and were by far the more committed side.

These are troublesome times for the Arms Park club. Their row with the Welsh Rugby Union over the signing of a 10-year loyalty contract rages on, they have lost their grip on the Swalec Cup and they are trailing in the battle for the League title.

As for Ebbw, their local player base is serving them well, even with so few players in their squad. In David Llewellyn and Byron Hayward they have as good a half-back pairing as any club in Wales, while their all- international back row of Richie Collins, Mark and Kingsley Jones provides a wealth of experience and ideas.

The quarter-final draw has given them a home tie, although they will have to overcome their semi-final conquerors of last season, Swansea, if they are to progress. The luck of the draw will play a big part in who reaches the final this year following the pairing of the Fourth Division clubs, Seven Sisters and Garndiffaith. While one of them will become only the 13th club in 27 years to reach the last four, whichever team meets them at a neutral venue are bound to start certainties to make the final.

Newport host Pontypridd and Llanelli will entertain Neath in the other quarter-finals.

Scorers: Ebbw Vale: Tries Hawker, Harries; Conversion Hayward; Penalties Hayward 4. Cardiff: Penalties Jarvis 3.

Ebbw Vale: S Taumololo; A Harries, J Hawker, J Funnell, L Woodard; B Hayward, D Llewellyn; A Phillips, L Phillips (S Jones, 62), M Wilson, C Billen, K Faletau (L Banks, 41), R Collins, M Jones, K Jones (capt).

Cardiff: J Thomas; C Morgan, M Hall, L Davies, S Hill; L Jarvis, S Wake (J Hewlett, 46); P Booth (A Lewis, 65), J Humphreys (capt), L Mustoe, J Tait (T Rees, 44), D Jones, G Kacala, O Williams, J Ringer.

Referee: R Davies (Dunvant).

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