Pontypridd were outmatched in Merthyr despite a promising first half, as the team failed to contain Merthyr’s astonishing second half performance.
Merthyr made it to the promised land 9 times and conceded only 4 tries in an all-round spectacular game, dismissing Pontypridd’s opportunity to earn a season double over them.
Pontypridd were the first to rack up points on the score board, as Burnell converted an early penalty inside Merthyr’s 22.
The home side were quick to answer. In the 8th minute, Alex Webber made a deep run into Pontypridd’s 22 as he skimmed past numerous defenders, but a great contest and a few phases later gave Ponty some short lived relief. Three minutes later, the Ironmen punished Ponty’s first error of the game, as they were unable to gather an astute grubber kick from Gareth Thompson, letting lock Callum Bradbury score instead.
Another well worked try for Merthyr came by the way of Gareth Thompson who took advantage of an impressive line break from Tom Daley, before Pontypridd answered with their first try of the game.
Morgan Richards sent Iwan Pyrs Jones rushing down the line, beating Merthyr’s backline for pace. Scrum Half Dafydd Buckland who had managed to keep up with Pyrs Jones caught his winger’s tentative offload and hastily scored in the corner, which didn’t trouble Burnell who added two points to his tally.
And then Ponty scored again! In the first phase after a Merthyr drop out, Burnell ran through a gap in Merthyr’s line, and played the two on one perfectly with Pope to send him between the posts. But Pontypridd were unable to prevent Merthyr from scoring again before half time, as Merthyr spread it wide to Norton who stepped the last defender to score – 21-17.
With Burnell going off injured around the half hour mark, it was Stuckey who stepped up to take a late penalty to make it 21-21 at half time.
Half time: 21-20
The closely contested first half was followed by one way traffic. Craig Locke secured the bonus point for Merthyr in the 47th minute, as he crashed behind the line after a few pick and go phases. Although Pontypridd were able to score their third try 10 minutes later when Dale Stuckey finished impressively in the corner after a free flowing piece of play – his 9th try of the season – this was the beginning of the end for them.
Merthyr went on to score 4 unanswered tries as well as a penalty try in the middle of these which led to Number 8 Sam Evans being sin binned with 15 minutes to go, and converted all but one, carrying the score 61-25 with less than 5 minutes to go.
Cai James’ late try for Pontypridd softened the blow for the Black and Whites, allowing them to bring back a bonus point from The Wern.
Full time: 61-32
– Zacharie Pillon @zjpsport
15. Morgan Richards (Joe Davies). 14. Iwan Pyrs Jones. 13. Morgan Sieniawski (c). 12. Bradley Roderick. 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Ben Burnell (Garyn Payne). 9. Dafydd Buckland (Lucus Welch).
1. Ben Stephens (Lloyd James). 2. Ieuan Morris (Nathan Huish). 3. Tom Harper (Morgan Bosanko). 4. Kristian Parker. 5. Jack Pope. 6. Joe Miles. 7. Cally James (Cai James). 8. Sam Evans (James Murphy).
Subs: 16. Nathan Huish. 17. Lloyd James. 18. Morgan Bosanko. 19. James Murphy. 20. Cai James. 21. Joe Davies. 22. Garyn Payne. 23. Lucus Welch
Tries: Buckland, Pope, Stuckey, Cai James
Conversions: Burnell x 2, Stuckey
Penalties: Burnell, Stuckey
15. Ben Jones, 14. Alex Webber, 13. Rhys Davies, 12. Joshua Martin, 11. Sam Jones, 10. Gareth Thompson, 9. James Soanes
1. Callum Lewis, 2. Dan Wall, 3. Kelvyn Williams, 4. Craig Locke ©, 5. Callum Bradbury, 6. Tom Daley, 7. Jack Perkins, 8. Phil Rees
Subs: 16. Oliver Rees, 17. Arwel Hughes, 18. Chris Phillips, 19. Paddy McBride, 20. Massa Tutaia, 21. Justin James, 22. Gareth Davies, 23. Ashley Norton
Tries: Bradbury, Thompson, Norton x2, Locke, Rhys Davies, McBride, Penalty Try, Justin James
Conversions: Thompson x 6, Davies