By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea celebrated a shock victory over Welsh Premiership champions Merthyr as Storm Dennis battered The Wern.
It was a perfect start for the All Whites when fly half James Davies chipped ahead and collected his deft grubber kick to send full back Phil Jones over for a first minute try. James Davies converted.
To make matters worse for the home side prop Jack Gilding sustained an injury during the move with a long stoppage in play.
James Davies chipped to touch with a penalty, giving Swansea an attacking platform inside the Merthyr twenty-two, but lock Matt Dodd spilled the lineout forward.
The home pack were penalised for driving into a scrum from the side, but the gale force wind pulled James Davies’ effort wide of the posts.
A high tackle by prop Chris Phillips gave scrum half Matthew Aubrey a chance to take a quick tap penalty, and he found hooker Shawn Howard in support, who juggled the ball over the twenty-two. The visitors were driven backwards though and James Davies had no option but to kick to touch.
Flanker Jack Perkins was penalised for straying offside at the breakdown and this time James Davies made no mistake with his kick at goal.
Lock James Down stole lineout ball for Merthyr on half way, but a poor chip ahead gave James Davies another chance to pen the home side back inside their own twenty-two. A clever short lineout to lock Ben Murphy cleared the danger though.
A poor handling error by the home side gifted Swansea possession just eight metres from the try line, but hooker Rhys Williams came to the rescue by scavenging a loose ball.
Offside following a charge down saw James Davies find touch a couple of metres out and a further professional foul saw Perkins yellow carded by referee Craig Evans.
With the home side a man light in the pack the All Whites opted for a five metre scrum, but a decent shove by Merthyr forced James Davies into an error.
It took Merthyr 33 minutes to venture into the Swansea twenty-two thanks to a well weighted Rhys Davies touch finder. The home pack drove forward but a mistake by number eight Phil Rees brought an end to the move.
A loose kick by Jones gave Merthyr another attacking chance though and Rhys Davies again kicked to touch with a penalty. Flanker Tom Daley collected the lineout, but the Whites were penalised for bringing down the maul. Rhys Davies again kicked to the corner, but the home side were unable to get possession out of the maul.
Half-time:- Merthyr 0 Swansea 10
With the wind at their back in the second half Rhys Davies’ high kick sailed out on the full. However, scrum half Justin James hacked on a loose ball and Jones made an elementary handling error inside his own twenty-two.
Merthyr powered forward at the scrum and the Swansea front eight were given a warning by referee Evans. The home side opted for another set piece and were rewarded when Rees stayed strong and handed a scoring pass to Daley. Full back Matthew Jarvis missed the conversion.
The home side were penalised for offside at the maul, but James Davies dragged his effort well wide of the posts.
Rees made a barnstorming run from a scrum, but replacement fly half Gareth Davies chose to chip ahead and the move broke down.
Murphy charged forward and winger Tom Williams stepped into touch following a Gareth Davies grubber kick to the corner. A crooked lineout gave Swansea a reprieve though.
The home side were awarded a free kick a couple of metres from the line and Merthyr camped on the Swansea line, working through over 20 phases, before the Whites regained possession, sparking heroic celebrations.
Centre Arron Pinches collected a clever Jarvis chip ahead, but flanker Callum Bowden nipped in to secure a turnover. The visitors controlled possession before giving away a penalty for failing to release the ball after the tackle.
Jarvis found touch inside the Swansea half with time running out, but a mistake gave Swansea possession. Replacement hooker Owen Thomas charged over half way and Aubrey kicked into touch as the visitors celebrated the win.
Full-time:- Merthyr 5 Swansea 10
Tries:- Tom Daley (49)
Yellow cards:- Jack Perkins (26)
Tries:- Phil Jones (2)
Cons:- James Davies (3)
Pens:- James Davies (16)
Venue:- The Wern
Weather:- Heavy rain, 12C
Man of the match:- James Davies
15 Matthew Jarvis
14 Chris Czekaj
13 Harley Thompson
12 Arron Pinches
11 Sam Jones
10 Rhys Davies (rep: Gareth Davies 52)
9 Justin James (rep: Rhys Downes 52)
1 Chris Phillips (rep: James Howe 59)
2 Rhys Williams (rep: Samuel Evans 74)
3 Jack Gilding (rep: Rhys Thomas 6)
4 Ben Murphy
5 James Down
6 Tom Daley
7 Jack Perkins (rep: Scott Jenkins 73)
8 Phil Rees ©
16 Samuel Evans
17 Rhys Thomas
18 James Howe
19 Garrick Legge
20 Ben Sier
21 Rhys Downes
22 Gareth Davies
23 Gavin Dacey
15 Phil Jones (rep: Max Nagy 59)
14 Tom Williams (rep: Ryan Griffiths 72)
13 Gareth Rees
12 Rhys Williams
11 Ben Cambriani
10 James Davies
9 Matthew Aubrey
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Rhys Davies 54)
2 Shawn Howard (rep: Owen Thomas 56)
3 Greg Cunniffe (rep: Jordan Pritchard 66)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jay Williams
6 Duane Eager (rep: Charlie Davies 59)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Jon Fox © (rep: Scott Jenkins 65)
16 Owen Thomas
17 Rhys Davies
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 Charlie Davies
20 Scott Jenkins
21 Chris Morgans
22 Ryan Griffiths
23 Max Nagy