CHIEF REVELS IN A SHOW OF CHARACTER
DALE McIntosh was full of praise for the character shown by his Merthyr players as they bounced back from their cup final defeat with a six-try thrashing of Carmarthen Quins.
The Ironmen will be crowned champions if they beat RGC on Friday.
A brace of tries from wing Teri Morgan Gee, plus scores from Ben Murphy, Craig Locke, a penalty try and Adam Hoskins, set them on course, while Matthew Jarvis kicked eight points.
“It’s been a tough week,” admitted McIntosh. “We were down and were bleeding after losing to Cardiff in the cup final.
“Carmarthen is a tough place to come but we got the win.
“It was huge to get back on the horse after the cup disappointment. It doesn’t get any easier because RGC can beat anyone on their day.
“They’re a very tough side to break down and they’re very fit. We need another big performance from our boys if we are to win the Premiership next weekend.”
Carmarthen Quins made the perfect start with powerful inside centre Josh Batcup making an incisive break, his offload putting former Scarlets man Nic Reynolds over for the game’s opening try.
But Merthyr weathered the storm and began to build some pressure of their own, with wing Gee’s foot just brushing the touchline to deny the Ironmen an opening score.
But they didn’t have to wait long to cross the whitewash as their forwards proceeded to lay siege to the Quins’ line.
Despite some valiant defence from Quins, powerful lock Ben Murphy eventually powered over the line from close range. Merthyr’s second try was a cracker, with Jarvis slicing open the home defence as he charged towards the 22.
The full-back offloaded to Gee, who turned inside before showing real pace to give Merthyr the lead.
Carmarthen’s early momentum had evaporated as Merthyr’s heavier pack began to gain the upper hand.
The Ironmen’s ball carriers were getting over the gain-line with ease and after tight-head prop Louis Jones was initially held up over the line, experienced captain Locke made amends as he muscled over.
And Merthyr secured the try bonus point on the stroke of half-time when a loose kick from Quins outside-half Jac Wilson was gathered by Gee, who ran in unopposed from 40 metres to give his side a 28-7 lead at the interval.
The hosts refused to throw the towel in during the second half and scored the first try when former Wales Under-20s full-back Ford made a cracking break before offloading to Reynolds, who touched down for his second try.
But in similar fashion to the first half, Merthyr’s pack took control, with Locke held up over the line after a powerful driving line-out. The Quins couldn’t stop their second surge, with the referee having no choice but to award a penalty try after the hosts had illegally brought down a driving maul.
Quins crossed for their third try, with right wing Morgans touching down after some neat handling by his inside backs. But whenever Quins got on the front foot, Merthyr went through the gears and so it proved again when replacement scrum-half Hoskins burst clear to score from 35 metres.
Nic Reynolds crossed twice for Carmarthen Quins.