Stop-start per­for­mance earns points for Iron­men

Cynon Valley - - RUGBY UNION -

MERTHYR .................... 29 BRID­GEND ................... 15

THIS was the first visit of Brid­gend Ravens to the Wern Sports com­plex and they made the Iron­men work hard for their bonus point win, which keeps them top of the Pre­mier­ship league ta­ble.

In per­fect play­ing con­di­tions both sides took a while to set­tle into any pat­tern and Merthyr were guilty of not win­ning clean li­ne­out ball, and poor pass­ing by the three­quar­ters. Brid­gend were on the score board first af­ter Merthyr were caught off side and vis­it­ing out­side half Jamie Mur­phy made no mis­take with a well taken penalty.

Merthyr were strug­gling to win good clean li­ne­out pos­ses­sion, and this seemed to frus­trate the Merthyr side.

Wing man Kyle Evans looked as if he would give the Iron­men the lead when he broke up filed to cre­ate an over­lap and with a man out­side him, his pass was ad­judged for­ward, by Ref­eree Thomas Spurrier and the chance was gone.

Mur­phy then should have dou­ble the visi­tors lead but his penalty went wide from 35 me­ters out. The home crowd tried to in­spire the Iron­men on, but they couldn’t find a way passed the Brid­gend de­fence.

How­ever, just be­fore half time a catch and drive from a li­ne­out 15 me­ters out saw the home for­wards at last drive back Brid­gend and home num­ber 8 Phil Rees crashed over for Merthyr’s open­ing try.

As the sec­ond half started it was Brid­gend that be­gan to move the ball around to at­tack the home de­fence, but it was home full back Matthew Jarvis who edged the Iron­men fur­ther ahead when he slot­ted over a 40-me­ter penalty af­ter Brid­gend had in­fringed at the set piece.

This seemed to set­tle Merthyr as they then be­gan to string sev­eral phases to­gether with back row men Osian Davies and Phil Rees mak­ing good me­ters with their ball car­ry­ing skills.

A line out 30 me­ters out won by young sec­ond row Ben Sier, was driven for­ward by the Merthyr pack and a per­fect cross kick from out­side half Gareth Davies found wing­man Richard Carter in space to race over un­der the posts, Jarvis con­verted to give Merthyr a 15-3 lead.

Things then got worse for the visi­tors when sec­ond row Jack Pope was yel­low carded for col­laps­ing a Merthyr drive 20 me­ters out. From the Penalty Merthyr elected for the scrum and af­ter 5 at­tempts which saw the scrum col­lapse the Ref­eree yel­low carded Prop Cai Lewis and awarded a penalty try to ex­tend the Iron­men’s lead 22-3. Merthyr then took ad­van­tage of the 13 men Brid­gend as they spread the ball wide from a li­ne­out which found Richard Carter in space to race over for his sec­ond try, and the all-im­por­tant bonus point, out­side half Gareth Davies con­verted to ex­tend Merthyr’s lead 29-3 with 10 min­utes re­main­ing. Credit to Brid­gend they kept go­ing and were re­warded firstly when wing­man Aaron Grab­ham broke through some weak home tack­ling to score a try which re­place­ment out­side half Ryan Evans con­verted.

It was Brid­gend who had the fi­nal word when re­place­ment prop Dewi Lake crashed over from short range af­ter some could work from the Brid­gend for­wards, but Merthyr were too far in front for the Ravens and ran out win­ners 29-15.

This was a scrappy per­for­mance from the Iron­men who strug­gled to find any rhythm form both for­wards and backs, how­ever at this stage of the sea­son it’s all im­por­tant to keep win­ning.

Merthyr now have a busy Easter pe­riod with firstly Neath away on good Fri­day, kick off 2:30pm fol­lowed by Llan­dovery at home on Easter Mon­day again 2:30pm kick off, be­fore a WRU Cup semi fi­nal on the Satur­day against Gwent ri­vals Ebbw Vale at Cross Keys, 5:15pm kick off which is be­ing tele­vised live on S4C.

PAUL LEWIS

Phil Rees makes a break

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