Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Steelmen boost championship hopes

THE yawning chasm between top and bottom in Division One East got even bigger last weekend as leaders Ebbw Vale tightened their grip on first place with a 35-3 trouncing of Blackwood.

The Steelmen’s five-try display opened up clear daylight between them and second-placed Bargoed, who are now eight points behind the Eugene Cross Park outfit.

Contrastingly, at the other end of the table, last Friday was another bad day at the office for lowly Tredegar, who suffered their 15th reverse of the season with a 15-3 home defeat to Treorchy.

Their only points came courtesy of a Greg Jones penalty in the first-half, but that was bettered by a Celyn Ashton three-pointer and a Stan Lazarus try for the visitors.

In fairness to Tredegar, they weren’t totally outplayed by the Zebras, who added a converted try after the break. Gareth Fear touched down and Ashton added the extras.

Tredegar’s plight had been made to look even worse in midweek when Glamorgan Wanderers, the team above them in the table, produced a shock 22-16 win at fourth-placed Gilfach Goch.

Ebbw, meanwhile, did trail to an Adam Jones penalty at Blackwood on Sunday but had the match and bonus point sewn up by the interval with Nicky Coughlin, Gareth James, Ashley Sweet and Wes Cunliffe crossing.

A penalty try after the break wrapped up the away win for Ebbw, however, they did lose centre Tom Macpherson to a serious leg injury in the first-half.

Kenfig Hill boosted their status as Division Two West leaders with a 28-16 success against Loughor, outscoring their opponents by three tries to two.

Centre Nicky Morgan got two of Kenfig Hill’s tries with second row Ben Jones bagging the other. Kicker Nicky Giles was also on target, slotting two conversions and three penalties as his side moved eight points clear of Glynneath in second.

Sam George and Simon Stonham touched down for Loughor and Andrew Williams added two penalties as the visitors saw their three-match unbeaten run come to an end.

Tries by Andrew Jenkins, Gavin Jones and Rob Silcox helped Penallta win 22-15 at Rhymney and maintain the pressure on Ystrad Rhondda at the top of Division Two East. Ian Barnes and Simon Parry replied with tries for the Brewers but despite picking up a losing bonus point, they stay bottom of the table.

In Division Three East, Newport HSOB registered their fourth league win in succession with a 25-15 defeat of Croesyceiliog, who have now lost three on the bounce. And the Old Boys triumphed thanks to the accuracy of Will Edwards.

The talented back, who can play either at full-back or fly-half, was on target with six penalties and a conversion to inspire his side to victory. Ross Richmond was the try scorer for the Old Boys while Edwards’s Croesyceiliog namesake Matthew wasn’t far behind in the kicking stakes.

He knocked over five penalties of his own but in the end the hosts couldn’t breach the opposition try line.

Abercarn surged to the top of Division Four East, overtaking former leaders Cardiff Quins with a five-try triumph at Chepstow. All of the tries came from different scorers and Jason Evans kicked 16 points to seal a comfortable win.

For the record, Joe Copling, Gareth Peebles, Jack Davies, Rhys Jenkins and Joe MacDonald bagged tries as Abercarn leapfrogged the Quins to lead the division by two points, though the clubs immediately below them have games in hand.

Only a last-minute try saved Cefn Cribbwr’s blushes at struggling Banwen in Division Five South Central with Stuart Curl’s effort rescuing victory for the side currently in second place.

The home side gave everything throughout the encounter and looked good for just their fifth league victory of the season when Leighton Llewellyn kicked two penalties and converted a penalty try.

But, with time ticking away, Curl broke Banwen hearts when he crossed the whitewash, adding to Richard Brock’s try and Gareth Lewis’s points from the boot.

Treherbert are now breathing down the necks of Abertysswg in Division Five South East following a 14-6 success in the Rhondda. Josh Morris and Gavin Lazarus scored the hosts’ two tries while the Falcons could only muster two penalties.

In the same division, St Albans edged out Ferndale 10-7, Stuart Kennedy grabbing a try for the latter with Dan Phillips converting.

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