THE Merthyr pack was just too big and too powerful for the Steelmen to handle as they slumped to their second successive defeat in the Principality Premiership.
The reigning champions were very good value for their conclusive victory that put them six points clear of Ebbw Vale at the top of the table.
But for some incredibly brave defence, the home side would have been buried under an avalanche of points.
“We were obviously disappointed to lose at home, but Merthyr have got some real power and strength up front. We are a bit battered and bruised, but we kept them to two tries,” said Ebbw Vale head coach Greg Woods.
“We had a really bad first five minutes, but then we steadied the ship.
“I was pleased we didn’t concede when Ronny Kynes was off the field, but we didn’t carry hard enough or clean out well enough.
“I was pleased with the spirit we showed – we didn’t fold and we dug in hard.
“We’ve got a week off now before a tough trip to Llandovery.”
Merthyr hit their hosts hard from the start of the game and came up with the first score of a cold and then wet night with a decisive driving lineout.
Nick White took the ball at the tail and the rest of the pack joined him in driving up to the home line.
International referee Nigel Owens spotted home skipper Kynes pulling the maul down and not only ran to the posts to indicate a penalty try, but also sent Kynes to the sin-bin in only the fourth minute.
It was still 7-0 to Merthyr at the break, two penalties from Matthew Jarvis’ big boot soon stretched the lead to 13 points.
Then, just after the hour mark, the forwards worked their way up to the home line before releasing to allow the impressive wing Jay Baker to power over.
Jarvis converted to take his league tally to 66 so far this season and it was game, set and match.
The Merthyr skipper Craig Locke led by example, twice getting up to, but not quite over, the home line, and was part of the unit that trashed the Steelmen’s line-out.
Missing Ashley Sweet, the home side then lost two more target men and ended the match with a back row that contained replacement hooker Rhys Clarke, wing Toby Fricker and flanker Owen Young playing at No 8.
By contrast, Merthyr had an outstanding back row trip in Nick White, Jack Perkins and man of the match Phil Rees. They carried and tackled hard and Rees in particular showed off some great handling skills.
“It was much harder out there than it looked on the TV. We dug in and got the result,” admitted Rees.
“Ebbw are an outstanding team, but our defence was phenomenal.”
The only downside for head coach Dale McIntosh was a first-half injury to centre Terri Gee, who had to be helped off the pitch. He will have his leg injury monitored this week.