Narrow defeat at the Wern

MERTHYR 26, LLANELLI 20
Llanelli stretched Merthyr to breaking point but couldn’t quite condemn the champions to a fourth home defeat despite scoring three tries and getting up to and over the home line three more times.
If it was a tale of missed opportunities for the visitors, who also missed a penalty in front of the posts, it was the Ironmen’s rugged defence that kept them in the game once again.
The visitors started at a cracking pace and kept the ball for a full five minutes to fashion a scoring chance wide out on the left, but poor handling allowed Lewis Williams to clear. When Llanelli killed the ball at a ruck in their 22, Merthyr kicked into the corner and after Craig Locke had won the line-out, Matt Dwyer came up with a try that Matt Jarvis converted.
Six minutes later another offence in their 22 gave Powell the chance to kick for the corner again and this time Hemi Barnes won the ball and his back row colleague Jake Thomas picked up the try. Jarvis added the extras and the Ironmen were flying.
Outside half Llew Smith finally got Llanelli on the scoreboard with a penalty off the 22 midway through the half, Better was to come shortly after when centre Ryan Davies sent Kallum Evans racing in at the right corner to cut the gap to six points.
That’s how it stayed until the break with Llanelli doing well to stay in the fight and stress the champions’ defence time after time with their expansive approach. They just needed to cut out on errors at vital moments and they did just that at the start of the second half.
An initial break down the left took them streaming into the home 22 and then scrum half Declan Smith picked up at the base of a quick ruck and kept the ball moving towards the right wing. An astutue long pass from the Smith then freed Evans on the wing for his second try.

Llew Smith missed the conversion and then a simple penalty and, having been let off the hook, Merthyr regained their composure. Two long passes then released Harry Davies to cross wide out on the left for a try that saw Jarvis lose his 100 per cent kicking record.
Back came the visitors and, when they held onto the ball, they looked the better team at times. Tight head prop Ryan Thomas got over the line, but frustratingly saw the ball held up and then from the scrum centre Joe Roberts knocked on as he came in on the crash ball.
The try they needed to take the lead did come five minutes later as Declan Smith this time picked out the outstanding Ryan Davies to take the ball at full tilt and crash over from 10 metres out for a try that Declan Smith improved to put his side ahead on 70 minutes.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Llanelli once again fluffed their liens at the re-start to gift possession back to the home side. Moments later Matthew Jarvis went over in the left corner for the bonus point try that he also converted.
Back came Llabnelli and Kallum Evans got over again, but was called back for a forward pass. Then they lost the ball on the line as they pushed for what could have been a deserved win to ease their relegation worries. So, a really great effort by Llanelli but this was one game that got away. Continue to play rugby in the manner they did against the Current Champions and results must surely come!

Scorers: Merthyr: Tries: M Dwyer, J Thomas, H Davies, M Jarvis; Cons: M Jarvis 3. Llanelli: Tries: K Evans 2, R Davies; Con: D Smith; Pen: L Smith

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3