By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea fell to a heavy bonus point defeat to a battle hardy Merthyr side at St Helen’s.
It began all so well for the home side when number eight Scott Jenkins made a promising break, but he was tackled before he could gain a head of steam and lock Matt Dodd spilled a pass forward to bring an end to the move.
It didn’t last long though as the Merthyr half backs combined well with the All Whites struggling to cope with the injection of pace. In the end, Swansea gave away three penalties in succession with full back Josh Lewis kicking to the corner.
From the lineout the Merthyr pack formed a rolling maul, which prop Tom Sloane brought down illegally, earning a yellow card in the process. Josh Lewis again chipped to the corner, and this time the visitors got quick ball out for winger Teri Gee to beat two men to score in the corner. Fly half Gareth Thompson missed the conversion.
Hooker Dan Wall was penalised for straying in front of Thompson’s high kick so fly half James Davies found touch inside the Merthyr 22. The home side tidied up a scrappy lineout, but the visitors secured a turnover and cleared. An opportunist chip and chase by winger Matthew Jenkins created some danger but his kick ahead was too strong and went dead.
Gee picked up on a superb crossfield kick to spark another Merthyr attack and centre Dafydd Thomas came close to breaking through the defensive line but the move broke down.
The home side gave away another penalty with Thompson chipping to the corner and a routine catch and drive from the lineout saw number eight Phil Rees crash over for a try. Thompson converted.
Merthyr gave away a penalty after the backs crept offside in midfield and Davies kicked the three pointer.
Josh Lewis spurned the chance to clear his lines and instead raced forward in a superb piece of enterprising rugby. He fed winger Sam Jones, but the winger was tackled into touch over the half way line.
The home side turned over possession inside their own half and Davies hacked the ball forward for centre Hanno Dirksen to chase. Gee collected the ball, but Merthyr were penalised for obstruction – Davies chipped to the corner.
From the lineout, the Swansea backs looked to spread the ball out wide, but a forward pass to Matthew Jenkins ended the move. Play was brought back for an earlier penalty though and Davies kicked his side back to within six points.
The visitors looked set to score a third try following a charge down with replacement full back Ben Jones stretching his legs from deep, but an outstanding last gasp tackle by centre Kieran Charles prevented a certain try.
Half-time:- Swansea 6-12 Merthyr
In the opening moments of the second half, a powerful scrum by the home pack forced Merthyr off the ball as they gave away a penalty. Davies found touch inside the 22, but a poor lineout throw by hooker Garan Williams brought an end to the move.
Full back Gareth O Rees was caught in a tackle and penalised with Thompson gaining territory with his touch finder. Sloane stole in at the lineout though and the All Whites were able to clear.
The visitors started to pile on the pressure and wave after wave of phases involving the pack put the Whites’ defence on the backfoot, allowing centre Morgan Sieniawski in for a try. Thompson converted.
A bonus point score followed two minutes later when scrum half Gareth J Rees made a mess of collecting the ball near his own line, with Gee nipping in for a soft try. Thompson missed the conversion.
The Merthyr pack was penalised for failing to roll away in the tackle, allowing Davies to kick to the corner, but Charles dropped the ball in midfield a couple of phases later.
Victory was complete for the Ironmen when Sieniawski used his pace and power to race down the wing, before feeding Ben Jones, who backed his speed to score a superb try in the corner. Thompson converted.
In the dying seconds, the All Whites went in search of a consolation try and a clever chip through by replacement fly half Liam Popham almost caught the Merthyr defence napping, but Ben Jones was able to ground the ball dead.
Full-time:- Swansea 6-31 Merthyr
Pens:- James Davies (24, 37)
Yellow cards:- Tom Sloane (6)
Tries:- Teri Gee (7, 54), Phil Rees (16), Morgan Sieniawski 51), Ben Jones (67)
Cons:- Gareth Thompson (17, 52, 68)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Cloudy, 6C
Referee:- Craig Evans
Man of the match:- Osian Davies
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Cory Jenkins
13 Hanno Dirksen (rep: Harvey James 70)
12 Kieran Charles
11 Matthew Jenkins (rep: Cameron Jones 11-17, Luke Morgan 73)
10 James Davies (rep: Liam Popham 73)
9 Gareth J Rees
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Cameron Jones 65)
2 Garan Williams (rep: Owen Thomas 50)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Oli Rees 42)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Sam Martin (rep: Sam Richards 69)
6 Lewis Ellis-Jones
7 Callum Bowden
8 Scott Jenkins (rep: Joe Pearce 73)
16 Owen Thomas
17 Cameron Jones
18 Oli Rees
19 Sam Richards
20 Joe Pearce
21 Liam Popham
22 Luke Morgan
23 Harvey James
15 Josh Lewis (rep: Ben Jones 30)
14 Teri Gee
13 Dafydd Thomas
12 Morgan Sieniawski (rep: Rhys Davies 50)
11 Sam Jones
10 Gareth Thompson
9 James Soanes (rep: Adam Hoskins 58)
1 Chris Phillips (rep: Louis Jones 62)
2 Dan Wall (rep: Rhys Williams 62)
3 Rhys Lewis (rep: Jordan Rogers 15-27, 62)
4 Craig Locke ©
5 Callum Bradbury (rep: Tom Daley 59)
6 Paddy McBride
7 Osian Davies (rep: Thomas Jevons 72)
8 Phil Rees
16 Rhys Williams
17 Louis Jones
18 Jordan Rogers
19 Tom Daley
20 Thomas Jevons
21 Adam Hoskins
22 Rhys Davies
23 Ben Jones