EBBW Vale fought hard for a much-needed home win over strugglers Neath to keep up the pressure on the Principality Premiership’s frontrunners, writes Ian Golden.

Ebbw had only declared the game on a few hours beforehand due to the state of the Eugene Cross Park pitch after the recent heavy snow.

And it soon became apparent that, as a result, this game was never going to be pretty.

The home side went close to taking the lead on eight minutes. After winning a series of early penalties, Ebbw eventually decided to kick for goal, but former Neath star Dai Langdon slipped while kicking and the ball hit the post.

Two minutes later, when Neath infringed again, scrum-half Dai Jones tapped quickly and ran through a bunch of Neath players to score. Langdon converted.

Ebbw pressed for a second but Rhys Clarke just failed to ground when attempting to cross from a rolling maul.

However, when Neath’s Jon Barley was sin-binned for persistent offending, the home side took full advantage.

Skipper Ronny Kynes went over from the resulting penalty with Langdon again converting to give the Steelmen a 14-0 half-time lead.

Neath broke their duck early in the second half when Ed Howley kicked two penalties, both from around 25 metres out, but Ebbw won a penalty of their own a few minutes later which Langdon easily kicked.

Ebbw chose to go for scrums as Neath continued to give away penalties but chance to score was lost and that probably cost them an extra bonus point.

However, Neath didn’t ever look like they were going to score. They had the time and a few minor opportunities but lacked any imagination to finish the job.

And when Ben Uphill was sin-binned with seven minutes to go, that was the final nail in their coffin. Winger Toby Fricker finished off a good passing move for Ebbw’s third try and Langdon’s missed conversion was the game’s final action.

Scorers: Ebbw Vale – Tries: D Jones, R Kynes, T Fricker; Cons: D Langdon (2); Pen: D Langdon

Neath – Pens: E Howley (2)

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond; T Fricker, J Lewis (T Hoppe 78), D Franchi, S Thomas; D Langdon, D Jones (S Ireland 63); J Harries (J Rogers 73), R Francis (J Franchi 57), R Sevenoaks; K Parker, L Randall (J Jacas 72), R Clarke, R Kynes, L Young (J Davies 73)

Neath: E Howley; J Roberts (D Guarneri 40), M Evans, S O’Brien (G Llewellyn 68), A Jenkins; I Evans, C Morgans (S Gibson 49); N White (B Uphill 42), E Whitson (L Tobias 78), G James (C Jones 72); M Davies (J Williams 67), J Barley, E Hopkins, C White (R Bean 65), L Ward

Star man: Lewis Young