LATE DRAMA, BUT CHAMPS EDGE HOME
IT is the sign of a good team that they can dig deep enough to win even when they aren’t playing well. That was certainly the case with reigning champions Merthyr as they came too close for comfort to losing their fourth home game of the season at The Wern. Even so, they managed to come from behind to snatch a win and bag a bonus point.
“Teams seem to grow 12 inches when they come to The Wern. Every side that comes here makes it really difficult for us,” admitted Merthyr skipper Craig Locke.
“We need to make every home game count and our consistency dipped. But Llanelli broke us a few times and had some blistering pace outside.
“We are delighted to get the five points but disappointed with the performance. We are building week on week but can’t afford just to rely on our driving line-out.”
The visitors started at a cracking pace and kept the ball for a full five minutes to fashion a scoring chance wide out on the left, but poor handling allowed Lewis Williams to clear.
Having been let off the book, Merthyr were 14 points to the good in as many minutes after securing driving line-out tries from hooker Matt Dwyer and flanker Jake Thomas.
Outside-half Llew Smith got Llanelli on the scoreboard with a penalty off the 22 midway through the half. Better was to come shortly after when centre Ryan Davies sent Kallum Evans racing in at the right corner to cut the gap to six points.
Evans scored again at the start of the second half and Llew Smith had the chance to put his side ahead with the conversion and then a penalty, but missed both kicks. Merthyr regained their composure and two long passes released centre Harry Davies to cross for a try wide on the left.
Llanelli prop Ryan Thomas got over the line but was held up, and then centre Joe Roberts knocked on as he came in on a crash ball five metres out. Eventually the visitors did score again when Declan Smith picked out the outstanding Ryan Davies to take the ball at full tilt and crash over.
Smith converted and Llanelli were ahead with 10 minutes to go. The lead didn’t last long, though, as Matthew Jarvis went over in the left corner for the bonus-point try that he also converted.
Llanelli still had their chances to snatch victory at the death. Evans got over the home line for what looked like his hat-trick, but was called back for a forward pass.
Then they lost the ball on the line as they pushed for what could have been a deserved win to ease their relegation worries.
“That’s a game we could have won and we need to work on the errors that cost us on the day,” said Llanelli coach Paul Fisher.
“It was there for us, but we couldn’t quite nail it.
“It was a frustrating day.”
Matthew Jarvis scored 11 points for Merthyr.