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National Cup Round-Up: Cardiff and Merthyr set for blockbusting final

Community | 8th April 2019

Cardiff and Merthyr will go head-to-head in a blockbusting National Cup final, after impressive victories in the semi-finals over the weekend.

The two regional rivals, who are also neck-and-neck in the race for the Principality Premiership title, will clash at the Principality Stadium on Sunday, April 28.

Defending champions, Merthyr, will look to make it back-to-back victories, while Cardiff qualify for the final for the first time since 2007.

Llandovery 17 Cardiff 35

Neath's The Gnoll was the location for Cardiff's semi-final tussle with Llandovery. Skipper Joey Tomlinson led his side out on his 100th appearance for the famous club, and marked the occasion with the first score of the game.

Ed Howley and Ben Thomas combined to send Tomlinson clear, and the hooker had enough pace to withstand the efforts of the recovering Aaron Warren.

Gareth Thompson added the extras, and moments later stretched his side's lead to 10-points with a penalty.

Jack Maynard pulled one back for the Drovers, but momentum was firmly on Cardiff's side, and they soon added a second score of the afternoon. Wing Joe Gatt found himself in space on the left hand side and showed composure to draw the final defender and send Morgan Allen through to slide in at the corner.

Cardiff Blues academy back, Max Llewellyn, was the instigator for the Blue and Blacks' third try of the game, feeding Howley, who chipped ahead and won the race to touch down.

Centre Rhodri Jones pulled one back for Llandovery, as he found a hole in the Cardiff defence to dot down under the sticks, however Steve Law's side remained firmly in the driving seat, with a 20-10 advantage at the interval.

Howley continued to influence proceedings, and touched down for his second of the game in the second half. The ball was worked out to the full back in the left channel, and he bulldozed past Llandovery wing, Morgan Williams, and powered over the whitewash.

Lee Rees crossed for a consolation try for the west Wales outfit, but Thompson put the icing on the cake for Cardiff, as he intercepted Stuart Worrall's long pass to touch down and secure a place in the final.


Merthyr 20 Pontypool 18

Defending champions, Merthyr, had to over-come a stern challenge from Championship outfit, Pontypool, at Ebbw Vale's Eugene Cross Park.

Dale McIntosh's side got off to a flyer, as in-form wing, Teri Gee, produced a stunning chip-and-chase to touch down with only five minutes on the clock.

The ever-reliable boot of Matthew Jarvis added the conversion, and the Ironmen quickly doubled their advantage as James Howe touched down from the base of a rampant driving line-out.

However, Pontypool weren't going to go down without a fight, and got the scoreboard ticking at the end of the first quarter with a driving line-out of their own proving to be a useful weapon. Scott Matthew was on the end of the maul, however, Matthew Lewis' touchline effort was wide of the mark.

However, the outside half made no mistakes from the tee to add a pair of penalties and cut the deficit to three points on the verge of half time.

In the final play of the half, Merthyr were dealt a major blow to their hopes as they were reduced to 14 men, with try scorer, Gee, shown a red card for leading with a high forearm into contact.

With a man advantage, Pontypool took the lead after the interval, once again using the power of their pack, with Matthew going over for his brace.

Lewis' conversion gave the Championship outfit a four-point lead, but the lead was cut to a single point as Jarvis added a penalty after Pontypool were penalised for obstructing the Merthyr scrum half.

With eight minutes remaining on the clock, Pontypool were penalised for a high tackle. Full back Jarvis remained calm and collected to slot a stunning long-range effort to book the Ironmen's place at the Principality Stadium for a second consecutive campaign.


Newport 7 Pontypridd 46

Pontypridd were in Principality Premiership action on Sunday, as they travelled to Rodney Parade with hooker, Huw Dowden, making his 250th appearance for the club.

Ceri Sweeney got Ponty off to a perfect start with a penalty, before Cardiff Blues academy wing, Corey Howells, crossed the whitewash to extend the lead to 10 points.

A break from back row, Sion Edwards, gave Justin Burnell's side the platform for a second try of the afternoon. The ball was worked to scrum half, Joel Raikes, who released the jet-heeled Alex Webber for a score.

Sweeney added a second penalty with Newport also opening their account ahead of the break, as Tom Pascoe touched down.

Ponty came flying out of the starting blocks in the second half, with Howells quickly adding a second score of the afternoon and Alex Knott securing the bonus point.

Knott added a second from an interception, before Howells secured his hat-trick at the death.