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.