IRONMEN LEFT DISAPPOINTED
THIS was a disappointing performance by last season’s Premiership champions as they were defeated by the Blue and Blacks of Cardiff.
Merthyr started the brighter side and soon put Cardiff under pressure at the set piece with Merthyr driving the Cardiff eight back 10 meters. Merthyr had several opportunities to kick for goal but turned the chances down, opting for the lineout and catchand-drive which Cardiff managed to spoil on several occasions.
A fine break from scrum half Justin James 30 meters out looked to have set up a try for wing man Steffan Andrews but he failed to hold the final pass. Cardiff then took the lead following a period of intense pressure which was rewarded when outside half Gareth Thompson kick a penalty 35 meters out.
Cardiff were then reduced to 14 men when centre Rees Hole was yellow card for a tip tackle. Merthyr took advantage of the extra man when on the stroke of half-time the lively James darted over from 5 meters out, Jarvis going wide with the conversion but Merthyr had taken a 3-5 half-time lead.
A half-time tongue lashing from head coach Dale McIntosh seemed to work for a while as Merthyr extended their lead when a kickable penalty was once again turned down opting for the lineout and catchand-drive this time it resulted in young second row Ben Murphy crashing over for his second try of the season and gave Merthyr a 3-10 lead.
Cardiff then reverted to the Merthyr catch-anddrive from a lineout when No 8 Luke Crocker was driven over 10 meters out to close the gap 8-10. This seemed to give Cardiff confidence and after making several replacements one of which saw Blues regional player Dan Fish coming on and making an immediate impact when he joined the Cardiff attack just over the half way line which saw Merthyr penalised for a high tackle, Thompson kicking the three points to give Cardiff the lead for the first time 11-10.
Replacement half back Ben Thomas extended Cardiff’s lead when Merthyr were penalised for hands at the ruck.
Leading 14-10 Cardiff then began to throw the ball around with danger man Fish linking up with centre William-Rees Hole who bust up the touch line to send fellow wing man Pat Lewis away to score under the posts, Thomas converted to give Cardiff a 21-10 lead.
Merthyr then made several changes which brought rewards when they closed the gap when a drive from a lineout 15 meters out was deliberately pulled down by the Cardiff defence with the South African referee Mr Jadezweni awarding a penalty try which closed the gap 21-17.
From the restart back row man Tom Daley picked up the loose ball and ran back at Cardiff and when the ball was recycled centre Teri Gee made an outside break and fed winger Andrews who darted away and looked to have scored under the posts but was adjudged to have lost the ball from a last gasp tackle from Cardiff.
With time running out Merthyr began to put several good phases together and were rewarded with a penalty, but when the touch judge intervened the referee reversed his decision which saw Thomas slot over the three points to give Cardiff a seven-point lead. Back came Merthyr with little time left, and a fine break from full back Jarvis found space on the left-hand touch line but his final pass was intercepted by a Cardiff player and the chance had gone.
In this defeat Merthyr must learn that sometimes you should kick your penalties when on offer, with Merthyr turning down several kicks which could have changed the outcome of the game.
Coaches McIntosh and Jarvis will be very disappointed by the belowpar performance from the Ironmen but must lift the side for the visit this Saturday of unbeaten Bedwas.
ONCE the dust had settled on this game, the Old Firm might well have reflected on scoring opportunities missed and Ystrad taking advantage of the few chances they had during a competitive and entertaining game.
Mount got off to a good start, strong drives by forwards Matthew Dixon and James Cowdry taking play to just 5 metres out where a Mount scrum resulted in scrum half Tom Owens going through a gap on the blindside to score the first try of the season for a 5-0 lead after just 5 minutes play.
Although playing up the slope, Ystrad had the better of the game for the next 15 minutes or so, and after the Mount defence had shown plenty of resolve to repulse all attempts to break through, a neat chip over the top of the Mount backs from a scrum on the Mount 22, saw Ystrad’s centre first to the ball to get an equalising try. Mount full back Will Holley’s 47 metre penalty was just wide, but minutes later he made no mistake from 45 metres to put the Old Firm 8-5 in front after 27 minutes.
A penalty midway in the Mount half, which should have given the Old Firm a lineout in the Ystrad half, was kicked dead, with the result Ystrad were awarded a scrum from which they gained a penalty to level the score at 8-8 after 30 minutes.
A turnover on halfway by Ystrad saw the ball moved to attacking danger man, wing Alex Webber, who got away down the wing and passed inside, the referee awarding a seven-point penalty try for an early tackle by a Mount defender.
The Old Firm gave the perfect response from the restart and after taking the 22 metre lineout and driving into midfield, replacement backrow forward Jarrod Morgan got away through the middle of a ruck and handed on to No 8 and captain Kriss Sanders who was pulled down inches from the Ystrad line. Quick ball was thrown wide to full back Holley, who got over from 10 metres out for an unconverted try, which reduced Ystrad’s lead to 15-13 at half-time.
Although playing up the slope in the second half, the Old Firm had as much of the play as Ystrad. A kick up to the home 22 looked as if it had gone into touch but the home wing recovered the ball and got away down the touchline to take play up to the Mount 22, where a penalty was kicked to 5 metres out. A catch and drive at the lineout led to a converted try, which put Ystrad 22-13 up after 50 minutes.
Play was open with both sides probing for gaps and testing each other’s defence close-in and wide out.
A break by centre Alex Hughes was kicked on rather than passed, and then a Mount lineout on the Ystrad 22 was lost as the Old Firm let the home team off the hook. Some strong drives by the Mount forwards took play up to the Ystrad 22 where a well-placed crossfield kick by scrum half Owens was latched onto by wing Jack Roberts who was tackled into touch.
A well placed high kick from the resulting lineout and pressure from the home wing saw the ball spilled into Ystrad hands for the home wing to get away and pass inside for the home side to run in under the posts against the run of play. The conversion put Ystrad 29-13 up after an hour.
Mount’s fitness, spirit and belief served them well in the final quarter and they hit back after 73 minutes with a converted try after the ball was moved across the backline to wing Jack Roberts who made ground up to the Ystrad 22 and chipped over the covering defence. Flanker Kieron Davies was quickly up to get hold of the loose ball and jinked pass a couple of defenders to dive over for Mount’s third try of the afternoon, which Holley converted to make it 29-20 to Ystrad.
The Old Firm sensed there was still something to get out of the game and once again took play into the Ystrad half, where a kick on by flanker Davies went dead and then a 38 metre penalty was missed. Ystrad wing Webber got away after a clearance was partially charged down but gave a poor pass.
The Old Firm turned down a 30 metre penalty kick at goal to kick to the corner, looking for two bonus points, and after a long passage of play in the Ystrad 22, where the ball was moved to both sides of the field and forward drives attempted, a penalty conceded was coolly converted by Holley from 25 metres with the last kick of the game to give Mount a bonus point.
Mountain Ash Athletic made a winning start to the season with a close 2622 win over Senghenydd 2nd XV at Duffryn Pennar Park in the Rhondda and East Glamorgan League.
Good performances from wing Nathan Treharne, who kicked three conversions, second row Adam Parry, who also scored a try, and No 8 Christian Jones, who carried strongly, laid the basis for victory. Wings Sam Akintioye and Curtis Williams, and centre Jack Bruford also scored a try each to complete the scoring.
Mountain Ash Youth started the season in fine style, beating Nantyffyllon Youth 35-0 at the Rec. The Young Firm scored five tries through outside half Morgan James, who scored two and converted five, for a 20-point haul, and one each from full back Cory Roberts, scrum half Morgan Cartwright and flanker Owen Jenkins.
This Saturday, Treorchy visit Duffryn Pennar Park for a Division 1 East Central League game, the 2nds are away to Beddau in the Rhondda and East Glamorgan League, and the Youth play at Pontypridd in the Blues League. All games kick off at 2.30pm.
Merthyr’s Ben Murphy wins
a lineout against Cardiff