Swansea 17-23 Merthyr

By: Paul Hopkins

Swansea’s 24 year wait for a cup final continues as a spirited display ended in a closely fought defeat against Merthyr at the Brewery Field.

It was a decent start for the All Whites when lock Matt Dodd took a lineout inside the Merthyr half and full back Harri Houston tried to dance through a tackle but slipped, although the Whites were awarded an early penalty. Fly half Rhys Jones kicked the three pointer.

A high box kick by scrum half Ethan Lloyd was collected by the Whites, but full back Gareth Thompson fielded a high kick by Houston. Further ping pong followed, before Swansea got ball out wide, but winger Brandon Wood became isolated and was penalised for holding on after the tackle.

Centre Morgan Sieniawski tried to break through on an angle but was well wrapped up, and a Lloyd box kick was well taken by Houston. Scrum half Gareth J Rees then put up a high kick of his own, although this was well dealt with by Merthyr.

Merthyr spread the ball quickly through the hands of the backs, but struggled to break through with winger Adam Hoskins well tackled.

A superb tackle on Jones disrupted play and allowed Hoskins to stretch his legs, with lock Paddy McBride charging forward. Then the ball was released to the other wing, but winger Morgan Meaclem’s kick went into touch, although play was brought back for an earlier penalty. Fly half Josh Lewis tied the scores at three apiece.

Merthyr failed to deal with a Gareth J Rees box kick and Jones fired a pass to number eight Cai Davies who sent the pacey Wood racing down the wing into the 22. Centre Tom Florence almost broke through a tackle before flanker Callum Bowden picked up to score the game’s first try. Jones converted.

McBride rose high to take a lineout on half way and the Merthyr pack formed a rolling maul, from which they were awarded a penalty. Josh Lewis found touch on the 22 and a well worked move saw Merthyr up the ante with another penalty following. Josh Lewis turned down the kickable penalty to boot possession into the corner.

McBride took the lineout recycled the ball quickly out wide for Meaclem to squeeze over in the corner. Josh Lewis narrowly missed the conversion.

A long clearance kick by Sieniawski forced Swansea back inside their own half, but a routine lineout take by lock Lloyd Ashley allowed Jones to clear.

Houston beat two tacklers and was brought down, but the Whites managed to quickly slip the ball through the hands of Jones and Florence to Gareth O Rees, but his chip ahead sailed out on the full.

Swansea were lucky to maintain possession amid a huge push by the Merthyr pack, and it forced Jones to kick high, although Meaclem dealt with the danger and Lloyd was able to clear.

A poor kick by Lloyd sailed out on the full and Swansea were able to mount an attack, but it was short lived with prop Daf Davies penalised for holding on after the tackle.

A superb penalty touch finder by Jones gave his side an attacking lineout on the Swansea 22. Flanker Jack Perkins charged forward, but solid tackling by the Whites stopped their momentum, and prop Rhys Lewis was forced into a handling error.

A superb scrum by Merthyr earned a penalty in front of the posts and Josh Lewis kicked his side ahead for the first time.

A mistake by the Whites gifted Merthyr possession and Meaclem found space, drew in a tackler and passed to centre Cole Swannack on the wing. Swansea were then penalised for offside, but Josh Lewis scuffed his effort at goal wide of the posts.

A superb move by Merthyr saw Meaclem find Swannack again in a familiar move, and the latter’s chip ahead forced Swansea to hurriedly kick the ball into touch near their own line. A powerful rolling maul from the lineout saw hooker Ellis Shipp power over from close range on the stroke of half time. Josh Lewis converted.

Half-time:-   Swansea 10-18 Merthyr

Number eight Lennon Greggains charged forward from half way as Merthyr signalled their intent after the interval. Hoskins stretched his legs but was brought down, with prop Callum Lewis then picking up to power through, but the Whites managed to turn over possession and cleared through Gareth J Rees.

Merthyr came again though and a Thompson chip through was half dealt with by Houston, but his clearance kick was taken by the Ironmen, although an excellent tackle by Florence turned over possession and earned a penalty.

Lock Matt Dodd took the lineout but communication went wrong with Gareth J Rees and hooker Llew Phillips-Taylor had to roll the ball into touch with a 10 metre loss. However, the Whites were gifted a reprieve when Josh Lewis chipped out on the full.

A needless push of the ball by McBride gave Swansea an unexpected penalty, which Jones chipped into the corner, turning down a kickable chance. Ashley took the lineout, but the home side lost possession forward.

A powerful scrum by the Merthyr pack earned a penalty and formed a seemingly unstoppable rolling maul, but somehow the Whites managed to hold it up to gain a scrum.

Second row Craig Locke took a quick free kick after the Whites’ scrum misfired and Merthyr got quick ball out to Meaclem, who sprinted on the wing but lost the ball forward.

The Whites tried to drive out of a difficult spot inside their own 22 but were outmuscled by their counterparts with Merthyr awarded a scrum. The Merthyr scrum advanced forward and the ball was fired out wide for Swannack to score. Josh Lewis missed the conversion.

Wood dropped a relatively simple high kick on his own 22 to gift Merthyr an attacking scrum. The Ironmen got the ball out quickly with Swannack well wrapped up and Rhys Lewis powering forward, but Meaclem then spilled the ball forward when he popped up on the opposite wing.

Centre Joe Thomas made a superb break through the middle and found Gareth O Rees on the wing, but he was tackled. Merthyr gave away a penalty though, which Jones chipped up to the 22 for a rare attacking set piece.

Replacement prop Tom Sloane took the ball at the back of a misfired lineout and a looping pass out wide was taken by Gareth O Rees with, first Houston and then Gareth J Rees both trying to go alone, before substitute hooker Jamie Cox managed to dive over for a try. Jones converted to bring his side back to within a concerted try.

Josh Lewis found touch on the Swansea 22 with a penalty and the pack drove forward but lost possession. Instead Sloane managed to tidy up play with Jones clearing.

Replacement lock Lloyd Evans collected a loose ball on the ground and a superb Gareth J Rees 50/22 gave Swansea a lineout inside the Merthyr 22.

Dodd took the lineout and the Whites worked their way forward through the phases, with replacement prop Tom Crockett and Cox charging forward, before the ball was sent out wide but Merthyr remained firm and dragged Gareth O Rees into touch.

Flanker Tristan Davies took a lineout on the Merthyr 22 and replacement centre Sam Matthews charged over the 22, but Sieniawski superbly intercepted a pass to regain possession, although Josh Lewis’ clearance went into touch a few metres past the 22.

It was last chance saloon for Swansea, who worked the ball out wide to Matthews as they went in search of a winning try. A Crossfield kick by Jones found Matthews but he was well tackled.

In the end it proved too much for the All Whites who weren’t able to find a way into a first cup final since 2000, and it will be Merthyr who face off against Llandovery at the Principality Stadium.

Full-time:-   Swansea 17-23 Merthyr



Tries:-   Callum Bowden (16), Jamie Cox (68)

Cons:-   Rhys Jones (17, 69)

Pens:-   Rhys Jones (3)



Tries:-   Morgan Meaclem (22), Ellis Shipp (40+2), Cole Swannack (59)

Cons:-   Josh Lewis (40+3)

Pens:-   Josh Lewis (12, 36)


Match facts:

Venue:-   Dunraven Brewery Field, Bridgend

Weather:-   Light rain, 6C

Referee:-   Keith David

Man of the match:-   Paddy McBride

Attendance:-   400


Swansea team:

15 Harri Houston

14 Gareth O Rees

13 Joe Thomas

12 Tom Florence (rep: Sam Matthews 52)

11 Brandon Wood (rep: Llien Morgan 64)

10 Rhys Jones

9 Gareth J Rees

1 Daf Davies (rep: Tom Sloane 63)

2 Llew Phillips-Taylor (rep: Jamie Cox 52)

3 Ed Thompson (rep: Tom Crocker 63)

4 Lloyd Ashley (rep: Lloyd Evans 69)

5 Matt Dodd (rep: Sam Pailor 52)

6 Tristan Davies

7 Callum Bowden ©

8 Cai Davies


16 Jamie Cox

17 Tom Sloane

18 Tom Crocker

19 Sam Pailor

20 Lloyd Evans

21 Dan Roderick

22 Sam Matthews

23 Llien Morgan


Merthyr team:

15 Gareth Thompson

14 Morgan Meaclem

13 Cole Swannack

12 Morgan Sieniawski

11 Adam Hoskins

10 Josh Lewis

9 Ethan Lloyd (rep: James Soanes 69)

1 Callum Lewis (rep: Travis Hawkins 75)

2 Ellis Shipp

3 Rhys Lewis (rep: Dave Whiting 69)

4 Craig Locke

5 Paddy McBride

6 Kian Evans

7 Jack Perkins

8 Lennon Greggains


16 Ben Rhodes

17 Travis Hawkins

18 Dave Whiting

19 Tom Davies

20 Ben Sier

21 James Soanes

22 Seb Ripley

23 Lloyd Rowlands