By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea fell to a bonus point defeat to Merthyr despite putting up a spirited display as the Indigo Group Premiership resumed at St Helen’s.
An early mistake from the kick off by the visitors gifted Swansea an attacking platform. The Merthyr defence failed to roll away in the tackle so fly half James Davies found touch a couple of metres short of the line with a penalty.
From the lineout the All Whites’ pack controlled a rolling maul and prop Tom Sloane crashed over for a try. James Davies missed the conversion.
A high kick by fly half Gareth Thompson as well taken by full back Liam Popham, but Merthyr regathered possession and embarked on their own attack. Full back Ben Jones looked to have sprinted home in the corner but the pass was adjudged forward with the try disallowed.
Thompson found touch midway in the Swansea 22 from a penalty, but Sloane ripped the ball out of the tackle, although the visitors soon regained possession at the ruck and were awarded a penalty. Thompson again found touch in the corner and hooker Rhys Williams crashed over the line for a carbon copy of Swansea’s try. Thompson converted.
The Whites were then back on the attack and James Davies chipped to the corner. The game’s third try followed from a Swansea rolling maul with number eight Jon Fox claiming the score. James Davies missed the conversion.
A clever move between centre Hanno Dirksen and winger Gareth Rees toom the Whites up to the 22, but the supporting flanker Charlie Davies became isolated and held on after the tackle.
Number eight Tom Daley collected a lineout on half way and the visitors got quick ball along the backline out to winger Sam Jones, but his chip ahead evaded his fellow winger Alex Webber into touch a metre from the try line.
An infringement in the lineout gave Merthyr a penalty and Thompson chipped to touch. Following a brief rolling maul Daley got quick ball out wide for scrum half Justin James to squeeze over for a try at the corner. Thompson missed the conversion.
Following a period of Merthyr possession, James Davies was able to gain important territory for the All Whites with a penalty touch finder. Swansea gave away a penalty though with scrum half Connor Tantum yellow carded for a stray knee to the face.
Winger Willis Wood defused a promising chip and chase by Thompson, but the visitors were back in possession shortly after. A kick to the corner by Thompson was dealt with by Rees, who kept his cool to feed Popham, who cleared.
Flanker Mossa Tutaia charged through the middle as the visitors went in search of a third try, but a mistake allowed Fox to clear. On the stroke of half time Webber glided through a tackle to touch down under the posts, but play was brought back as the Merthyr winger was penalised for crossing in midfield.
Half-time:- Swansea 10-12 Merthyr
The visitors began the second half brightly and were awarded a penalty following a high tackle inside the 22. Thompson chipped to the corner and Kelvyn Williams almost scored a try, but the prop was held up over the line by an excellent Swansea defence.
A huge Thompson 50/22 kick gave the visitors an ideal attacking platform. Centre Arron Pinches was brought down a metre short of the line and although his side were initially awarded a penalty, it was reversed and replacement scrum half James Soanes saw yellow for foul play seconds after taking the field.
A break by Daley took the visitors up to within five metres of the Swansea line but a high tackle saw the visitors awarded a penalty. After a lengthy conversation between the referee and touch judge, both Dirksen and Ben Jones were yellow carded for a fight.
Flanker Leon McNally gave away a penalty after diving on a ball that had been spilled forward by Wood. Thompson brought some calm to proceedings with a three pointer.
Sam Jones and Webber combined out wide as Merthyr looked to up the pace. Daley drove over the 22 and Swansea gave away a penalty, which Thompson chipped to the corner. From the lineout Rhys Williams crashed over for his second try. Thompson converted.
It went for bad to worse for the home side when they were penalised for offside at the breakdown and Thompson extended Merthyr’s lead to 15 points.
The visiting forwards were penalised for speaking out of turn and James Davies chipped to the corner. The home pack controlled the ball in a maul from the lineout, with centre Kieran Charles crashing over to hand Swansea a lifeline. James Davies missed the conversion.
With seconds left on the clock Merthyr counterattacked from their own 22 and a superb pass out to replacement winger Jarrod Cushion saw the winger back his pace to score from 60 metres to clinch a bonus point. Thompson converted.
Full-time:- Swansea 15-32 Merthyr
Tries:- Tom Sloane (4), Jon Fox (17), Keiran Charles (73)
Yellow cards:- Connor Tantum (33), Hanno Dirksen (58)
Tries:- Rhys Williams (12, 66), Justin James (26), Jarrod Cushion (79)
Cons:- Gareth Thompson (13, 67, 80)
Pens:- Gareth Thompson (60, 70)
Yellow cards:- James Soanes (50), Ben Jones (58)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 10C
Man of the match:- Tom Daley
15 Liam Popham
14 Gareth Rees
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 Keiran Charles
11 Willis Wood (rep: Taylor Phillips 61)
10 James Davies
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Chris Morgans 68)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Tom Northy 70)
2 Garan Williams
3 Kaid O’Neill (rep: Jordan Pritchard 68)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jake Baker (rep: Leon McNally 59)
6 Jay Williams
7 Charlie Davies (rep: Will Barraclough 67)
8 Jon Fox ©
16 Aneurin James
17 Tom Northy
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 Leon McNally
20 Will Barraclough
21 Chris Morgans
22 Ben Ley
23 Taylor Phillips
15 Ben Jones
14 Alex Webber (rep: Jarrod Cushion 74)
13 Rhys Davies
12 Arron Pinches
11 Sam Jones
10 Gareth Thompson (rep: Gareth Davies 80)
9 Justin James (rep: James Soanes 49)
1 Callum Lewis (rep: Chris Phillips 64)
2 Rhys Williams (rep: Curtis Greenslade 75)
3 Kelvyn Williams (rep: Oliver Rees 64)
4 Craig Locke
5 Shaun O’Rourke
6 Massa Tutaia (rep: Paddy McBride 61)
7 Dafydd Stonelake (rep: Joseph Gough 80)
8 Tom Daley
16 Chris Phillips
17 Curtis Greenslade
18 Oliver Rees
19 Paddy McBride
20 Joseph Gough
21 James Soanes
22 Gareth Davies
23 Jarrod Cushion