IRONMEN LEFT DIS­AP­POINTED

Cynon Valley - - SPORT -

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.

Craig Locke

Merthyr’s Ben Mur­phy wins

Justin James

NOR­MAN HAR­WOOD

a li­ne­out against Cardiff

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