LATE DRAMA, BUT CHAMPS EDGE HOME

South Wales Echo - - Principality Premiership -

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.

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