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By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites celebrated their best win of the semi-pro era with a dominant bonus point display against back-to-back champions Merthyr.
The home side stole possession at the kick off with prop Tom Sloane charging forward into the twenty-two, but the move broke down and Merthyr were able to clear.
The visitors’ first attack came from an infringement in the Swansea lineout, but winger Jay Baker’s chip through was dealt with by full back Phil Jones, who cleared to touch.
A slow moving roiling maul from the lineout meant the visitors were forced to spread the ball wide, but winger Tom James held on after the tackle surrendering possession.
Phil Jones was slow to deal with a chip to the corner, but was rescued by the supporting winger Andrew Claypole. Baker picked up a loose clearance but didn’t make the most of his pace as he lost possession forward on the twenty-two.
A quick tap penalty by centre Callum Carson near his own line went horribly wrong as he spilled the ball forward. But an outstanding tackle by prop Greg Cunniffe forced Merthyr off the ball, allowing Phil Jones to clear.
The visitors came close to opening the scoring when prop James Howe charged down a Tom Ham box kick, but the ball evaded him into touch a couple of metres short of the try line.
Ham made a break over half way, and although support was initially too slow to arrive, the Whites managed to recycle possession. Lock Jay Williams broke through a tackle and raced through the middle, finding fellow lock James Ratti on his shoulder for a well taken try. Phil Jones converted.
It was a strong finish to the half for Swansea as a powerful rolling maul by the home pack forced Merthyr offside. Phil Jones kicked to the corner and Jay Williams collected the lineout to send Sloane crashing over for a try. Phil Jones missed the conversion.
Half-time:- Swansea 12 Merthyr 0
Swansea looked to play a percentage game early in the second half with fly half J Rhys Williams finding touch inside the Merthyr twenty-two. Jay Williams stole the lineout to set up another Whites attack, but the move slowed down and the home side were penalised for killing the ball.
Claypole took the ball on a devastating angle as the visitors struggled to contain a rampant Swansea. Deliberate offside by flanker Hemi Barnes earned him a yellow card and Phil Jones slotted the penalty through the posts.
Disaster struck for Merthyr when replacement fly half Gareth Davies, with his first touch since coming on as a replacement, threw a loose pass that was scooped up by Claypole, who raced clear to score. Phil Jones missed the conversion.
Replacement hooker Ifan Phillips fielded a loose chip through as his side went in search for a bonus point, but the Whites were unable to release the ball from the maul.
The visitors were penalised for holding on after the tackle and Phil Jones kicked to the corner. J Rhys Williams took a crash ball and was tackled just short of the line, but flanker Morgan Morris powered over to score under the posts. Phil Jones converted.
Winger Jon Bayliss almost put the icing on the cake as he raced towards the line out wide, but he was bundled into touch a metre short, but moments later centre Joe Thomas was shown a yellow card for an off the ball trip.
Although the result was beyond doubt, the visitors refused to give up and replacement full back Matthew Jarvis used his pace to score a consolation try out wide. He missed the conversion. However, it was an unsavoury ending as centre Arron Pinches saw red for dangerous play.
Full-time:- Swansea 27 Merthyr 5
Tries:- James Ratti (37), Tom Sloane (40+6), Andrew Claypole (55), Morgan Morris (66)
Cons:- Phil Jones (38, 67)
Pens:- Phil Jones (50)
Yellow cards:- Joe Thomas (80)
Tries:- Matthew Jarvis (80+2)
Yellow cards:- Hemi Barnes (49)
Red cards:- Arron Pinches (80+8)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Stephen Allsop
Weather:- Light rain, 10C
Man of the match:- Jay Williams
15 Phil Jones
14 Andrew Claypole (rep: Jon Bayliss 76)
13 Joe Thomas
12 Callum Carson
11 Gareth Rees
10 J Rhys Williams (rep: Steffen Williams 80+6)
9 Tom Ham (rep: Chris Morgans 50)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Tom Northy 68)
2 Paul John (rep: Ifan Phillips 50)
3 Greg Cunniffe (rep: Alex Jeffries 56)
4 James Ratti (rep: Matt Dodd 52)
5 Jay Williams
6 Morgan Morris
7 Will Jones (rep: Jon Fox 72-75)
8 Jon Fox © (rep: Callum Bowden 68)
16 Ifan Phillips
17 Tom Northy
18 Alex Jeffries
19 Matt Dodd
20 Callum Bowden
21 Chris Morgans
22 Steffen Williams
23 Jon Bayliss
15 Josh Martin (rep: Matthew Jarvis 52)
14 Jay Baker
13 Arron Pinches
12 Adam Thomas
11 Tom James
10 Richard Powell (rep: Gareth Davies 52)
9 Justin James (rep: Rhys Downes 60)
1 James Howe © (rep: Chris Phillips 76)
2 Matthew Dwyer (rep: Rhys Williams 45)
3 Joe Rees (rep: Louis Jones 52)
4 Ben Murphy
5 Paddy McBride (rep: Andrew Murphy 17)
6 Hemi Barnes (rep: Jarryd Lee Davies 60)
7 Jake Thomas
8 Phil Rees
16 Rhys Williams
17 Chris Phillips
18 Louis Jones
19 Andrew Murphy
20 Jarryd Lee Davies
21 Rhys Downes
22 Gareth Davies
23 Matthew Jarvis