Llanelli are still searching for their first victory of 2023 after going down to a heavy 50-7 home defeat to play-off chasing Merthyr at Parc y Scarlets.
A challenging week ended with a eight-try loss at the hands of the Ironmen, who had too much power and nous for a youthful home outfit.
To their credit, Llanelli kept battling to the final whistle despite being outgunned throughout, but their only reward was a fine individual try by Wales U20s international Harri Williams (pictured).
After a bright start Llanelli were hit by a two-try sucker punch. Former Scarlet Josh Lewis intercepted from 50 metres out, then right wing Sam Jones picked up a spilled ball and raced down the touchline for a second. A third came on 17 minutes when hooker Rhys Williams finished off a line-out rumble and Llanelli were already up against it.
Some stubborn defence and errors from Merthyr kept the home line intact, but Llanelli were dealt a major blow towards the end of the half when second row Chris Long was forced to leave the field with a leg injury.
The Ironmen had the bonus point in the bag on the stroke of half-time when Lewis cut through for his second, wth his conversion making it 24-0 at the break.
A breakout from deep by prop Sam O’Connor provided a rare highlight for the home side, but Merthyr had their fifth 11 minutes into the second half through that man Lewis, who sliced through from close range for his hat-trick.
On 55 minutes, a lovely kick through and gather by Williams from just outside the 22 produced Llanelli’s only score, with the fly-half – normally a nine – converting his own score.
But after Iwan Shenton and replacement Isaac Young saw yellow, Merthyr turned the screw, with a double for replacement wing Dafydd Thomas sandwiching a length-of-the-field effort finished off by fly-half Gareth Thompson.
Llanelli, who remain at the foot of the Indigo Premiership table, are back in action at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday when they take on Bridgend (2.30pm ko).
Llanelli – try: H. Williams. con: Williams
Merthyr – tries: J. Lewis (3), S. Jones, R. Williams, D. Thomas (2), G. Thompson. cons: Lewis (5)