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Principality Premiership Round-Up: Wins sees Merthyr, Pontypridd and Cardiff in top five

22nd March 2018

All three of the region's Principality Premiership sides kept their title hopes alive with victories last weekend. Merthyr, Pontypridd and Cardiff currently sit amongst the league's top five teams as they enter a crucial period of the campaign.

Neath 30 Pontypridd 34

Pontypridd bounced back from an early scare to claim victory over the league’s bottom club, Neath, at The Gnoll on Friday.

Neath’s Ed Howley got the scoreboard ticking from a penalty, but Pontypridd soon took the lead as Lewis Williams crossed out wide.

Diggy Bird converted, but the set-back did not deter Neath, who regained their lead thanks to their first try of the game, scored by lock John Barley. Returning centre, Keiran Williams, pounced on a loose ball to extend the hosts’ lead. 

Howley and Bird exchanged penalties, but Neath would go into the interval with a 27-10 lead, as Aled Cockwell intercepted to touch down in the final play of the first half.

Ponty came out firing in the second half, with hooker Huw Dowden forcing his way over for an early try. But the visitors were reduced to 14-men as Dafydd Lockyer was sent to the sin bin, with Howley adding another penalty and stretching the home side’s point tally to 30 points.

However, Ponty survived the pressure and were rewarded for their resilience as back row, Morgan Sieniawski, dotted down to give his side real hope of a comeback.

Alex Webber continued to be an attacking threat, and his break put the visitors on the front foot. Joel Raikes pounced for a crucial try from the base of a scrum, and with momentum firmly with Justin Burnell’s side, a Dale Stuckey break released centre Lloyd Rowlands through for the decisive score, completing the stunning comeback.

Carmarthen Quins 10 Cardiff 34

Cardiff were facing a tough visit to title-contenders, Carmarthen Quins, but came away with all five-points, as they continued their momentum in the Premiership.

The game kicked off with strong winds at Carmarthen Park, and despite the home side’s early dominance, they failed to break past the determined Cardiff defence. With half-time approaching and the deadlock yet to be broken, the visitors finally opened the scoring against the run-of-play, thanks to a pair of Gareth Thompson penalties.

The penalties put a spark into the Blue and Blacks, who found time before the interval to secure the first try of the afternoon, with a Dafydd Smith break releasing Adam Jones through to touch down under the sticks. Thompson added the conversion, before a late Aled Thomas penalty made it 13-3 at half time.

Cardiff extend their lead early in the second half, with Dan Fish sneaking over in the corner. Aled Thomas struck back with a converted try - and the 10th point of his personal tally - but the visitors put the game to bed as Thompson added a try of his own.

The bonus point was secured in the final play as prop Keiron Brown started and finished an attack, with Thompson maintaining his 100 per cent record from the boot from the conversion.

Merthyr 44 Llanelli 43

Matthew Jarvis was the hero at The Wern, after his last-ditch penalty secured a thrilling 44-43 victory over Llanelli on Saturday.

It was a fairly quiet opening 15 minutes, with Jarvis and Billy McBryde battling from the tee, but quick fire scores from defending champions, Merthyr, put life into the game, with Richard Carter and Jarvis crossing the whitewash to give the hosts a 22-6 lead.

With half-time looming, Llanelli battled back with Ryan Davies crossing the whitewash, and a further eight points from the boot of McBryde making it 22-19 to Merthyr at the interval.

Llanelli picked ups where they left off early in the second half, and would take the lead as Davies scored a further two tries to secure his hat-trick.

A try from Ed Siggery kept the home team’s hopes alive, but scrum half Declan Williams sniped over to secure the bonus point for the visitors.

However, a dramatic ending was in-store as Merthyr took the lead thanks to tries from Matthew Dwyer and Rhys Downes. 

A converted try from Callum Evans, converted by McBryde, put Llanelli back ahead, with a two-point advantage, but Jarvis stepped up to slot a penalty with the final kick of the game.

Merthyr’s week only got better as they progressed to the semi final of the National Cup, after securing a 21-6 win over Pontypool on Tuesday.