Rugby Union: Vale put jam on bread and butter

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The Independent Online
Ebbw Vale 52 Aberavon 17

WITH WELSH rugby still in euphoria after that famous Paris victory, it was back to the bread and butter business of the Premier Division at Eugene Croft Park last night.

But for Ebbw Vale and their supporters who braved a bitter night there was a large dollop of jam to go with it as they picked up maximum points against the basement club to jump into second in the table.

Scrum-half David Llewellyn, a late replacement for Wales in their victory at Stade de France, sat out the match but even without him Mark Jones' team picked up eight tries to keep in touch with the League leaders, Llanelli, and all but book their place in the play-offs.

They may have left it late, Jonathan Hawker clinching the two extra points with his injury-time try, but in the end it was a job well done. Richard Hill, the former England captain and scrum-half, joined the Vale coaching staff a week ago and watched as his new charges won in a canter without hitting any great heights.

Stand-off Jason Strange, who kicked 12 points, missed his first penalty, but was involved three times in a flowing attack that produced the first try for prop Andrew Metcalfe after seven minutes.

A break by the scrum-half Robbie Jones, making the most of Llewellyn's absence, did the damage for the second and lock Kuli Faletau found himself in isolation to stroll over for the first of his two tries.

Aberavon relied on stand-off Cerith Rees for all their points with a first-half penalty and two second-half tries, both converted. But they were little more than consolation scores as Vale entered bonus point territory after 30 minutes through Hawker's first try.

Faletau, Jones, replacement David Manley and Leyton Olsen all scored tries before Hawker supplied the coup de grace to clinch both extra points.

Ebbw Vale: Tries K Saletau 2, J Hawker 2, A Metcalfe, R Jones, D Manley, L Olsen; Conversions J Strange 6. Aberavon: Tries C Rees 2; Conversions C Rees 2; Penalty C Rees.

Ebbw Vale: J Williams; A Harries (D Manley, 53), J Hawker, J Funnell (G Williams, 60), L Olsen; J Strange, R Jones; A Phillips, L Phillips (A Peacock, 76), A Metcalfe (G Mason, 57), C Billen, K Faletau, N Budgett, R Collins (L Banks, 68), M Jones (capt, G Green, 63)).

Aberavon: A Hamilton; D Griffiths (B Maddocks, 73), N Stork (P Roberts, 53), R Lewis, P Jones; C Rees, A Jacobs; L Howell, J Hughes (capt), A Jones (C Noon, 40), M Evans (P Owen, 58), P Clapham, B Shenton, D Neill, R Morris.

Referee: H F Lewis (Pontypridd).