By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites battled hard to push Merthyr all the way but were unable to prevent the Wern side from surging to the Premiership summit with a bonus point win.
With the odds stacked against them pre-match, Swansea signalled their intent in the early stages when centre Ryan Evans burst through the middle, finding winger Andrew Claypole in support, but a forward pass brought an end to the move.
Merthyr centre Aaron Pinches made a break into the twenty-two, but the Whites managed to turn over possession as their defence stood firm.
The visitors took a 26th minute lead when lock Jay Williams was taken out in the air at a lineout. Full back Jac Wilson kicked the three points.
Moments later the scores were tied when the Whites’ forwards were penalised for diving over the top of a ruck. Full back Matthew Jarvis was successful with his effort at goal.
Pressure from the home side soon told when flanker Nick White and number eight Tom Daley powered into the Swansea half, and even a bone crunching tackle on Pinches by winger Will Lewis wasn’t enough to stop Merthyr from getting the ball out wide for winger Kyle Evans to score. Jarvis converted.
Swansea hit back immediately when they picked up a loose ball at the restart and a low pass was skilfully chipped ahead by Wilson, who regathered to score a try, which he also converted.
A superb break by Jarvis from inside his own twenty-two set up a dangerous home attack and he found White in support who kept the move alive. The All Whites were caught offside at the breakdown and fly half Gareth Davies chipped to touch, but they lost the resulting lineout.
Half-time:- Merthyr 10 Swansea 10
Merthyr coach Lee Jarvis must have read the riot act during the interval as his side came out on fire in the second half. In fact, winger Richard Carter picked up the restart and raced clear to score in the corner with less than ten seconds on the clock. Jarvis converted.
A minute later the home side took full control of the match as the backs got the ball out quickly to Carter through the hands of Pinches to send the winger over for a try in the corner. Jarvis missed the conversion.
Swansea almost hit back straight away when Claypole intercepted a pass and raced forward, only for the supporting hooker Ricky Guest to lose the ball forward under pressure.
A minute later the Whites got their reward when the lively Claypole again sprinted through the middle to set up a platform for the forwards to drive to the line with flanker Mike Sully claiming the try. Wilson missed the conversion.
Gareth Davies turned down an easy kick at goal to chip to the corner. The Whites brought down the resulting maul illegally, but referee Rob Price reversed the penalty and issued White a yellow card for foul play.
Jarvis was penalised for a high tackle and Wilson made no mistake with his effort at goal to draw his side back to within four points.
Swansea’s hopes of an unlikely victory took a severe hit with 13 minutes left when Sully was shown a yellow card for killing the ball.
With the man advantage, Merthyr looked destined to score with a rolling maul, but they lost the ball forward when they tried to get it out wide.
However, the Swansea pack were unable to stop a home scrum just five metres from the line and conceded a penalty try. Jarvis converted.
With five minutes of normal time remaining the home side were penalised for killing the ball. Wilson opted to kick at goal, which he duly converted.
Moments later it was Swansea who were penalised for obstruction in midfield, giving Jarvis a simple three points.
Swansea had the final word when the forwards battered the Merthyr defence before Evans picked up the ball and danced past a tackle to score. Wilson missed the conversion.
Next up for Merthyr is a trip to Carmarthen, while Swansea host Bridgend.
Full-time:- Merthyr 32 Swansea 26
Tries:- Kyle Evans (35), Richard Carter (41, 42), Penalty try (72)
Cons:- Matthew Jarvis (36, 42, 73)
Pens:- Matthew Jarvis (29, 78)
Yellow cards:- Nick White (54)
Tries:- Jac Wilson (36), Mike Sully (49), Ryan Evans (80+5)
Cons:- Jac Wilson (37)
Pens:- Jac Wilson (26, 57, 75)
Yellow cards:- Mike Sully (67)
Venue:- The Wern. Merthyr
Referee:- Rob Price
Weather:- Cloudy, 5C
Man of the match:- Richard Carter
15 Matthew Jarvis
14 Richard Carter
13 Harley Thomson (rep: Dean Gunter 77)
12 Arron Pinches
11 Kyle Evans
10 Gareth Davies
9 Tom James (rep: Rhys Downes 68)
1 James Howe (rep: Louis Jones 10)
2 Rhys Williams (rep: Matthew Dwyer 57)
3 Gary Powell
4 Ben Sier (rep: Phil Rees 41)
5 Craig Locke ©
6 Nick White
7 Osain Davies (rep: Matthew Rees 40+4-46, 71)
8 Tom Daley
16 Louis Jones
17 Nathan Buck
18 Matthew Dwyer
19 Matthew Rees
20 Phil Rees
21 Rhys Downes
22 Dean Gunter
23 Owen Howe
15 Jac Wilson
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Ryan Evans
12 David Watts © (rep: Ewan Gully 41)
11 Will Lewis (rep: Josh Jones 41)
10 Phil Jones (rep: Julian Mogg 70)
9 Martin Luckwell
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Dan Kenny 80+1)
2 Ricky Guest (rep: Alex Dunham 73)
3 Sam Martin
4 Jay Williams
5 Tudor Hughes
6 Mike Sully (rep: Mitchell Walsh 80+1)
7 Will Jones (rep: Ross Barnes 54)
8 Rory Gallagher (rep: Jack Perkins 10)
16 Alex Dunham
17 Mitchell Walsh
18 Dan Kenny
19 Ross Barnes
20 Jack Perkins
21 Julian Mogg
22 Josh Jones
23 Ewan Gully