Ironmen made to fight for win by a stubborn Neath
NEATH .......................... 10 MERTHYR .................... 26
ALTHOUGH these teams are at the opposite ends of the league table the Ironmen found Neath a hard side to break down and didn’t make it easy for themselves with silly errors.
The Ironmen’s start was poor as from the kick off the ball didn’t go 10 meters and Neath were awarded a scrum. From the scrum the Neath backs were brought into action and showed how dangerous they were going to be. After several phases the Neath pack created an overlap for their backs and some good passing found full back Ed Howley in space to race over for the opening score, and as he converted his try Neath had taken a 7-0 lead.
Merthyr gradually began to get into the game with some forward drives from lock Ben Murphy, No 8 and captain Nick White well supported by Ed Siggery. A fine lineout take deep inside the Neath half form Ben Sier set up the Merthyr backs and a fine chip ahead from outside half Richard Powell caught the home defence flat footed and when the ball was recycled from a ruck back row man Lee Evans was on hand to take an inside pass to get the Ironmen’s first try, Powell just going wide with the kick.
This seemed to settle the Ironmen as the pack began to take the game to Neath, however it was Neath that extended their score after Merthyr were caught offside and full back Ed Howley made no mistake with a well taken penalty from 40 meters.
Leading 10-5 gave the home side renewed confidence and only good defence from the Merthyr backs kept them from extending the lead further. Just before half-time a fine run from wingman Richard Carter created panic in the Neath defence and fine inter-passing form centre Gavin Dacey set up full back Josh Martin to touch down wide out to tie the scores at 10-10, however Powell converted from the touchline to give the Ironmen a 10-12 half-time lead.
Neath started the second half on the attack and a fine break from replacement scrum half Rubin Morgan-Williams was only stopped by a fine tackle from full back Martin.
The conditions become heavy going as the rain began to fall and it was the Merthyr pack that began to take control with fine drives from young prop Ben Warren, and hooker Matthew Dwyer to set up captain Nick White to gallop over under the posts, Powell converted, and Merthyr had stretched their lead 10-19.
Merthyr then began to throw everything at Neath looking for that all-important fourth try and bonus point.
A penalty inside the Neath 22 was kicked deep into touch. From the lineout the Merthyr pack drove towards the Neath line and after several attempts, preplacement second row Craig Locke crashed over for the allimportant try, full back Martin converting from the touchline to give Merthyr a winning score 1026.
This was a hard-fought win and credit to Neath who although losing put the Ironmen under pressure on several occasions. For the Ironmen it was good to see the young squad members given an opportunity to play Premiership rugby. Young prop Ben Warren, second rows Ben Sier and Ben Murphy, scrum half Adam Hoskins, and full back Josh Martin all played their part in this all-important league win which keeps the Ironmen top of the Premiership.
Merthyr try-scorer Josh Martin