EBBW Vale fell to a fourth consecutive Principality Premiership defeat but put in a much-improved performance in a highly competitive encounter with Cardiff at Eugene Cross Park, writes Jay Bayford.

The Steelmen were staring at a first victory in four games thanks to a brace from Dan Haymond and the boot of Callum Hall, but 13 points from Ben Thomas, including a late penalty, ensured Ebbw’s poor form continued.

It was an evenly contested opening 10 minutes with both sides cancelling each other out but Cardiff went ahead through a well-struck Ben Thomas penalty.

The Steelmen responded well and full-back Dan Haymond finished off a fine team move to crash over in the corner. Callum Hall added the extras.

But despite taking the lead, Ebbw invited pressure from Cardiff and it eventually paid off for the visitors with Ian Jenkins touching down and Thomas converting.

Thomas then stretched Cardiff’s lead with his second penalty.

The hosts weren’t done though and almost claimed a second try when a clever offload allowed Srdan Majkic to drive into space, however, the Blue and Blacks stayed strong and managed to keep him out before a wayward pass ended the attack.

But the foray forward was enough to motivate the Steelmen and they continued to attack with Hall managing to kick over two penalties to level the score at the break.

The hosts started the second half exactly how they ended the first – with another Hall penalty. The fly half nailed the kick while Ben Thomas was shown a yellow card.

Ben White joined Thomas in the sin-bin four minutes later and Ebbw Vale took full advantage with Haymond going over for his second of the match.

Rhodri Cole went close with a long-range penalty for Cardiff before winger Corey Howells hauled them back in the game. Thomas returned from the sin-bin to boot the conversion.

Cardiff upped the ante as they sensed a winner and it came in the form of a late Thomas penalty. The fly half held his nerve to kick the ball right between the posts and break Ebbw hearts.

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond; S Majkic (J Lewis 73), D Franchi, D Langdon, T Fricker; C Hall (L Dennett 73), D Jones (C Lewis 53); I George (R Jones 10), R Francis (J Franchi 67), J James (R Sevenoaks 46), K Parker (J Davies 57), L Randall, R Clarke (M Williams 77), R Kynes (capt), C Regan.

Scorers: Tries: D Haymond (2); Con: C Hall; Pens: C Hall (3).

Cardiff: L ap Myrddin; J Beal, D Smith, A Jones, C Howells; B Thomas, R Cole (G Watkin 29-34, 67); P Lloyd, I Jenkins (C Tarrant 65-72), F Young (J Greenfield 65), J Murphy, C Bradbury (C Tucker 58), B White, L Crocker, C Williams (J Miles 50).

Scorers: Tries: I Jenkins, C Howells; Con: B Thomas (2); Pens: B Thomas (3).

Referee: Dewi Phillips (WRU) Argus Star Man: Callum Hall.