PRE­MIER RUGBY

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY -

DALE McIn­tosh knew his Merthyr side wouldn’t be able to win the Prin­ci­pal­ity Pre­mier­ship on Fri­day night, but he knew it would be a mas­sive boost to their tre­ble chances if they did.

Beat­ing Pon­typridd 20-14 took them six points clear of their big­gest ri­vals at the top of the ta­ble and was a great start to a run of six suc­ces­sive games at home be­fore Christ­mas. Even so, McIn­tosh is tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“We knew we weren’t go­ing to win the league tonight, it wasn’t a must-win game, but it was a game we des­per­ately wanted to win for brag­ging rights. We just keep edg­ing and edg­ing ahead,” said McIn­tosh.

“You can’t take any­thing for granted in this league. Bar­goed had a great re­sult against Aber­avon and then Cardiff went down to the Tal­bot Ath­letic Ground and gave the Wizards a bit of a belt­ing.

“We just have to make sure we are not on the wrong end of one of those mishaps. With the rel­e­ga­tion process this sea­son it makes it tough be­cause these are des­per­ate times.”

Ponty trav­elled up the A470 more in hope than ex­pec­ta­tion and put up a good enough fight to sug­gest they can­not be ruled out of the ti­tle race. They drew first blood play­ing into the driv­ing wind and rain on an aw­ful night and hit back to level at 14-14 in the sec­ond half.

It was a game that Justin Bur­nell’s men could have won, but con­ceded to two late penal­ties for break­down and scrum of­fences. That al­lowed Merthyr’s Matthew Jarvis to steal the win and leave sec­ond place Ponty with just a los­ing bonus-point.

The Iron­men led 14-8 at half time thanks to tries from for­mer Cardiff Blues play­ers Gareth Davies and Sam Hobbs. Hooker Geraint Clarke con­verted a driv­ing line-out for the visi­tors and the boot of out­side half Lewis K Wil­liams draw them level with three penal­ties, two of them in the space of two min­utes af­ter the break. Cardiff’s re­vival con­tin­ued with a sixth win in a row as they came from be­hind to beat RGC 1404 25-19 at the Arms Park. Tries from Will Rees-Hole, Adam Jones and Joe Tom­lin­son, plus 10 points from the boot of out­side half St­ef­fan Jones, were enough to se­cure the vic­tory.

Car­marthen Quins en­sured they stayed in the ti­tle race as they heaped more mis­ery on cri­sis-torn Neath. Their 41-14 home win in­cluded two tries from Gareth Rees as they raced into a 20-0 in­ter­val lead.

There were two penalty tries in the sec­ond half be­fore Rees claimed his hat-trick to make it 41-0. Neath grabbed late con­so­la­tion from Garin Lloyd and Mike Evans.

There were also two penalty tries for Aber­avon in their 19-5 vic­tory at Bed­was, while Llan­dovery were forced to hit back from 9-5 down be­fore edg­ing out Ebbw Vale 15-9 at Church Bank.

Cross Keys and Llanelli shared the spoils at Pandy Park in a 5-5 draw while Newport chalked up a 9-3 vic­tory over Swansea.

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