EBBW VALE 20, NEATH 10
Ebbw Vale silenced their growing band of critics by dumping last year's
beaten finalists Neath out of Principality Cup.
While Vale defied the odds to secure a place in the last eight, Neath will be kicking themselves for throwing away a 10-point first half lead and having flanker Alfie Mocelutu sent off for stamping.
The two sides have experienced vastly differing fortunes in the Welsh/Scottish League this season with Vale lingering uncomfortably around the
foot and Neath at the business end.
However, as Pontypool proved on Friday night, league form counts for nothing when it comes to cup rugby.
And Vale, though behind early on, were
deserving of their interval share.
The home side made the early inroads and the Welsh All Blacks were forced to hang on as the home side, who were destroyed by Neath in the league earlier this season, threatend to take a foothold.
But somewhat against the run of play, Neath took the lead when Lee Jarvis
kicked his first penalty of the afternoon.
The kick served to settle the Neath nerves and within a matter of minutes
Patrick Horgan had improved their lead when he latched onto a sweeping move to score a try which Jarvis duly converted for a 10-0 lead.
It was somewhat surprising that it took Vale 35 minutes to register their
first points of the game but, by that time, Neath were missing their influential second row Gareth Llewellyn who was helped off with a knee injury.
Aaran Takarangi, the New Zealand born three quarter, chased a speculative kick ahead from Cull and when David Tiueti made a hash of his attempted clearance kick, Takarangi pounced to score and Cull converted.
Cull added a penalty before the break to level matters and a try straight
after the retsrat put the Steelmen infront for the first time.
Neath appeared to have secured decent ball inside their own 22 but, when
the ball bobbled free, Vale flanker Tyrone Morris pounced for his side's
second try of the afternoon.
Cull converted but they were soon down to 14 men after Kati Tuipolotu was
yellow carded for tackling within 10 metres after a penalty was awarded.
But while Neath's numerical advantage lasted just 10 minutes, they were to
suffer from a numerical disadvantage for the rest of the game when flanker
Mocelutu was shown the red card for stamping.
Last season's runners up tried to pick up the pace of the game, but it was Vale who were far stronger, espeically
in the set piece, and with three minutes remaining fly half Mark Meehan put the seal on a famous Vale win with a drop goal.
Scorers: Ebbw Vale: Tries: A Takarangi, T Morris; Cons: G Cull 2; Pen: G Cull; DG: M Meehan. Neath: Try: P Horgan; Con: L Jarvis; Pen: L Jarvis
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.