THE outcome of this game between third-placed Merthyr and seventhplaced Cross Keys was very much a reflection of those positions.
Slick offloading and rapid recycling were the keys to the home side’s opening try in the fifth minute with full-back Leon Andrews touching down under the posts to provide an easy conversion forl Josh Prosser.
The visitors countered immediately but, held up just shy of the Cross Keys line, they were forced to settle for a Matthew Jarvis penalty. Two penalties in quick succession saw the Ironmen opt for touch both times with the power of their pack setting up prop Nathan Trevett for the try.
Moments later the home side were down to 14, No.8 Adam Powell seeing yellow for a deliberate knockon. Merthyr made the most of the resulting penalty, hooker Matthew Dwyer going in for their second try.
The visitors were also a player short soon afterwards, centre Aaron Finches being dispatched to the sinbin for a high tackle. EBBW Vale clinched their first Premiership East home win of the season when their powerful pack took a firm grip in the second half, but battling Bargoed still made them fight all the way and staged a grandstand finish.
The turning point came midway through the second half when the Steelmen were awarded a penalty try following persistent infringements by the visitors at a scrum near their line.
Before that, outside-half Lewis Dennett kicked a hat-trick of penalty goals, while full-back Dan Haymond slotted a fourth. Their star man was dynamic hooker Rhys Francis, while powerful wing Toby Fricker also caught the eye.
Bargoed’s points came from a 32nd-minute try by replacement hooker Geraint Clarke, a brace of first half penalties from full back Matthew Lewis and another from outside half Iain Smerdon in the final quarter. But flanker Grant Rogers and replacement wing David Evans came desperately close to scoring last-gasp touchdowns
Full-back Lewis gave the visitors an early lead when he kicked a CARDIFF ended a run of three consecutive defeats in the Principality Premiership with a bonus-point win under the floodlights against east rivals Newport at the Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.
Tries from Dan Fish, Ben White, Dafydd Smith and replacement Ian Jenkins secured a deserved victory for Steve Laws’ men while Henry Palmer, Harri Lang and Ryan James all went over for the visitors.
It didn’t take Cardiff long to break the deadlock thanks to an offload from man-of-the-match loosehead Rhys Carre who found full-back Fish, and he put Cardiff into an early lead, with Gareth Thompson adding the conversion.
Newport reduced the deficit moments later thanks to a penalty from Haydn Simons, however, a hattrick of penalties from Cardiff captain Thompson gave the Blue and Blacks a 13-point lead at the break.
The game sprung into life after the interval with three tries within the space of eight minutes. White went
A nicely-judged chip ahead from scrum half Justin James was gratefully dived on by wing Stef Andrews to give Merthyr their third try and make the half time score 24-7 to the visitors.
The visitors’ bonus-point try, a second for Andrews, came barely a minute after the restart. Home skipper Scott Matthews claimed his side’s second try in the 66th minute, but the flanker’s effort was quickly followed by a try for Merthyr replacement wing Kyle Evans.
A late interception try for wing Nathan Trowbridge saw the home side within sight of a bonus point, but that fourth touchdown eluded them. CROSS KEYS: Tries: L Andrews, S Matthews, N Trowbridge; Con: J Prosser (2) MERTHYR: Tries: N Trevett, M Dwyer, S Andrews (2), K Evans. Cons M Jarvis (3). Pen: M Jarvis. penalty, but Dennett levelled the scores.
A touchline flare-up ended with Vale prop Robert Sevenoaks and the visitors’ skipper and prop Rhys Morgan being sent to the sin-bin midway through the first half. Play was scrappy, but Lewis nudged Bargoed 6-3 in front with a 23rd-minute penalty from 40 metres.
Bargoed were enjoying most of the territorial advantage and they increased their lead nine minutes later when replacement hooker Clarke was awarded a try after a powerful forwards surge by the Bulls. Lewis could not convert. Dennett then added his second penalty goal for Vale with the last kick of the half to make the interval score 11-6 in Bargoed’s favour.
But Vale’s powerful forwards did just enough in the second half to clinch the win. EBBW VALE: Penalty try. Pens: L Dennett (3), D Haymond. BARGOED: Try: G Clarke. Pens: M Lewis (2), I Smerdon. over first for the home side, which was converted by Thompson.
But the Black and Ambers fought back almost immediately after 44 minutes, with hooker Palmer crashing over for the visitors. Simons’ conversion then made it 23-10.
The hosts struck next to regain their 20-point lead, a sublime diagonal ball picked out Smith who put the home side back in control. Thompson, once again, was successful with the conversion.
Cardiff secured a deserved bonus point late on after substitute Jenkins went over to stretch the hosts’ lead even further, but Newport did conjure up two late consolations thanks to Harri Lang and Ryan James. CARDIFF: Tries: D Fish, B White, D Smith, I Jenkins; Cons: G Thompson (3), B Thomas; Pens: G Thompson (3). NEWPORT: Tries: H Palmer, H Lang, R James; Cons: H Simons, A Robson; Pen: H Simons.