2005/2006 Principality Premiership
Cardiff 18 v 7 Ebbw Vale
12 November 2005 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Ebbw Vale

Match Report

Cardiff 18 Ebbw Vale 7

Cardiff's third win of the season was not a thing of beauty but three Premiership points in the current league position are not to be sniffed at.

No one was complaining afterwards as the result took the club outside the dreaded relegation zone. In an eventful preamble to the game the pitch was declared playable despite the monsoon weather of recent days and Ebbw Vale declared a side showing eight changes from that announced on Thursday. The most significant seemed to be the inclusion of 36-year-old Byron Hayward at fly-half. The pugilist-cum-player coach once scored 25 points for Llanelli against Cardiff (he is also much-travelled) and one way or another he seemed sure to leave his mark on this game.

So it proved, but not in the way he and his vociferous supporters would have hoped. In the 30th minute of an otherwise fairly timid encounter he was red carded for the double whammy of a punch and a head butt, all the more galling for the Steelmen because it was several metres away from the play as the visitors seemed to be heading for a try.

C'est la vie - and Cardiff quickly rammed home their one-man advantage. Showing clear thinking the resulting penalty was tucked into the visitors' 22 and from the lineout that followed Richard Jones burst through the middle for Chris Anderson to appear at his elbow and a converted try under the posts.

Punishment, indeed, for foul play. Cardiff had already scored as early as the second minute when another penalty had set up a lineout near Vale's line and from the inevitable catch and drive Wayne Murphy peeled away to touch down unopposed.

There then followed the now traditional period of huffing and puffing without blowing any one's house down before Hayward's rush of blood and Anderson's seven-pointer. The lead stretched to 15 points when the fly-half then slotted a penalty goal.

Surely the Blue & Blacks would now ram home their advantage even further? Seasoned Arms Park watchers feared otherwise and so it proved. Right on half-time Jonathan Hawker, in a move eerily reminiscent of the midfield carnage at Eugene Cross Park  at the start of the season, slipped past a half-hearted tackle for a try converted by Owain Biddiscombe.

The second half deteriorated into a mish-mash of mediocre rugby from both sides. The gluepot pitch was obviously affecting the best endeavours of the 29 players. Chris Stamatakis was again performing heroics in the lineout and around the field as the Blue & Blacks were never in serious danger of being overhauled.

But with no sign of any more points the only incident worthy of note, sadly, was a serious knee injury to Gavin Vaughan-Evans. After several minutes of attention on the far side of the pitch he was stretchered off and taken to hospital for an x-ray.

Anderson, having missed with two penalty goal attempts from reasonable range, finally succeeded with his third attempt in the seventh minute of injury time. Still the game continued on its weary way. Dusk fell, the lights were not switched on (economy is apparently everything in what some Arms Park movers and shakers seem to regard as the literally twilight world of the Blue & Blacks), but in the gathering gloom Cardiff held on for a welcome win. Good for them.