TRIES ENSURE MAX FACTOR FOR MERTHYR
NEATH are still waiting for their first win of the season after reigning Principality Premiership champions Merthyr claimed maximum points at the Gnoll.
The Ironmen ran in six tries to pick up a bonus point but were made to work hard by a spirited Welsh All Blacks side.
The hosts made an encouraging start as they pushed Merthyr back in the opening 10 minutes. They showed plenty of hunger and desire and asked several questions of Dale McIntosh’s men.
But Merthyr had all the answers and with their first venture forward they scored. Centre Adam Thomas found enough space on the right flank to get the Ironmen moving and his offload to Kyle Evans handed the winger a simple try.
Full-back Matthew Jarvis added the resulting conversion.
The Welsh All Blacks responded well with more pressure, which resulted in a penalty and Callum Hall judged the wind well to glide his kick between the posts.
Thomas almost went from provider to scorer as he waltzed past two players to sprint over the whitewash, but referee Stephen Allsop pulled play back for a clear forward pass.
The game became more open and that suited Merthyr as Justin James capitalised on a defensive error to claim his third try in as many games, but Jarvis’ conver- sion attempt came back off the post.
The Ironmen were starting to control the game, although Neath were still causing some problems, but a lineout was executed perfectly five minutes before half-time to allow Craig Locke to force the ball over the whitewash.
Again, Jarvis’ conversion struck the post.
The bad weather almost helped Merthyr claim a fourth try before the break as the ball bobbled around the pitch but Ryan Pugh cleared the danger just in time with Evans ready to pounce.
Ryan Thomas, of Neath, and Merthyr’s Sam Hobbs both saw yellow in the dying minutes of the first half following a collapsed scrum.
The hosts started the second half like they did in the first and were rewarded with a penalty that was expertly dispatched by Hall.
Neath’s confidence never faded but the final ball continued to elude them as Merthyr maintained their 11-point advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.
And the Ironmen then showed their clinical edge as Jack Perkins touched down following another lineout to push them further ahead. Adam Hoskins followed him over the whitewash shortly after before Jay Baker sealed the victory in injury time with Jarvis converting.