Ebbw Vale 16 RGC 14 WRU National Cup, Saturday 6th January 2018

RGC were knocked out the cup by the boot of Ebbw Vale’s Dorian Jones, as the cup holders failed to build on a 1st half lead at Eugene Park. In the final minutes of a tight encounter in which RGC were winning, they homeside put pressure on the Gogs forwards with a big scrum and won a penalty. Fly-half Jones stepped up and struck the ball between the posts.
The game was played in pretty wet conditions and the handling of both sets of players was tested from the opening minute. Knock-ons were shared by players on either side after a number of kicks were traded.
After some positive phases from RGC, it was the homeside that struck the 1st blow with a try. The Ebbw Vale scrum did the damage before a clever kick ahead was collected by winger Toby Fricker who escaped a tackle to touchdown. Dorian Jones added the extras. The Eugene Park crowd were driving the side on, and Ebbw Vale were looking dangerous with ball in hand. Winger Stefan Tomas raced down the line, but a foot in touch ended the attack.
RGC needed to gain some control in the game, and a decent run from Tom Hughes sparked his side into action before his pass failed to get into the hands of Afon Bagshaw.
The battle was being made upfront, and the cup holders were edging towards the Ebbw Vale line inch by inch, phase by phase but they were turned over and the attack ended without a score.
As the half moved on RGC ramped up the pressure and when Jacob Botica kicked to touch, the line-out and maul rolled towards the line. After a couple of scrums, finally the pack went over and Andrew Williams appeared from the bottom of the maul with the ball. Botica converted to make the score all square.
Afon Ebbw Vale

Just on the half-time whistle RGC picked up another try with a similar move to the opening score, this time Jordan Scott getting the touchdown, with Botica’s kick making it 14-7 to the visitors at the break.
The frustration of the home fans was building in the opening minutes of the 2nd half when the referees whistle was going in the favour of RGC, but the North Walians struggled to build on anything as the game became battle upfront.
Ebbw Vale then got a foothold in the game and the pressure was ramping up for the RGC defence. The home side turned the possession and territory into points with Dorian Jones kicking 2 penalties to close the lead to a point. When the visitors did make a break, it was down the errors of Ebbw Vale and not from much RGC phase play. Tom Hughes got a boot to a stray ball which caused a scrambled defence from Ebbw Vale.
RGC were trying to play the game in the Ebbw Vale half, and when they did kick ahead and chase down the ball the Ebbw Vale backline were able to skip the tackles and make some yards to get back into the RGC half. Daniel Haymond and Toby Fricker made some gainline breaks on a few occasions. The boot of Dorian Jones was pinning RGC back, and finding touch on the right occasions whereas RGC were only able to clear the ball to Ebbw Vale hands and the backline kept on running it straight back. The momentum of the game was all in Ebbw Vales favour, and RGC were holding onto a lead without being able to hold onto the ball.
In the final minutes RGC had control of the ball, but a knock on gave Ebbw Vale the scrum and the chance to work one final opportunity which they took full advantage of, ending the cup hopes of RGC for 2018.

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