Rugby Union: Strange's try wrestles control from Llanelli

Ebbw Vale 24 Llanelli 20
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IT HAS been a difficult week for Ebbw Vale with their captain, Kingsley Jones, and international stand-off, Byron Hayward, both leaving to ease the club's financial problems.

So victory over the league leaders, Llanelli, who are no strangers themselves to such problems, was just the tonic for their millionaire chairman, Marcus Russell. The manager of pop group Oasis was in the United States yesterday on business, but will be delighted that Vale were able to avenge last season's Swalec Cup defeat at the hands of the Scarlets.

And they did it despite missing those key players and with one or two more ready to leave, but willing to play on while they remain on contract at Eugene Cross Park. One of those, scrum-half David Llewellyn, was an inspiration and if he follows the likes of Jones and Hayward, it will be a tragedy for the popular valley club.

Vale showed no signs of that burden despite a third minute penalty from Llanelli's stand-off Stephen Jones. Llewellyn, one of four players still on the transfer list, kicked a penalty five metres from the Scarlets' line and scored a try that Jason Strange converted. Jones and Strange then dominated the action with their kicking in tit-for-tat style.

Strange edged Vale into a 16-12 lead with a penalty just before half- time and it was the same player who scored the decisive try after 43 minutes, which was no more than Vale deserved. Though Jones pulled back the deficit with his fifth penalty, Llanelli were never able to wrestle control of a dull encounter spoilt by the referee's whistle.

Vale were certainly good value for their lead and it was just the tonic they required after such a desperate time.

Ebbw Vale: Tries Llewellyn, Strange; Conversions Strange; Penalties Strange 4.

Llanelli: Try Finau; Penalties Jones 5.

Ebbw Vale: S Taumalolo; A Harries, J Hawker, G Williams, D Manley (L Olsen, 66); J Strange, D Llewellyn; I Thomas (A Phillips, 64), R Campbell, A Metcalfe, L Banks, K Faletau (C Billen, 64), R Collins, G Green, M Jones (capt).

Llanelli: D Williams; W Proctor (capt) N Boobyer, R Boobyer (S Finau, 62), G Evans; S Jones, R Moon; P Booth, J Hyatt, M Madden (J Barrel, 61), A Copsey, M Voyle, D Hodges, C Wyatt, I Boobyer.

Referee: C Thomas (Swansea).

n The Wales international full-back Gareth Wyatt scored a hat-trick of tries for Pontypridd in their 55-15 win over Caerphilly last night.