Bedwas RFC 23 Merthyr RFC 34.
Principality Welsh Premiership, Saturday 3rd February 2018.
Match report and photography by Ian Lovell.
Brave Bedwas gave it a great shot against the current league leaders and despite losing two key players with what looked to be long term injuries they never allowed Merthyr to have all their own way.
Both sides showed plenty of endeavour for the first twenty minutes punctuated by the frequent blast of the referee’s whistle for errors and penalties with neither side creating try scoring opportunities.
Bedwas lost their influential captain George Lee with a suspected broken arm after 24 minutes, his place being taken by David McGuigan and the game became a big arm wrestle as both sides fought for an opening.
Bedwas finally took the lead on 34 minutes as Merthyr were penalised at a ruck and Steffan Jones fired over the resulting penalty.
Bedwas suddenly found their straps and following another penalty kicked to touch the Merthyr defence could not legally stop a Bedwas rolling maul and the referee instantly awarded Bedwas a penalty try.
Steffan Jones added another penalty just before the scheduled break but half time was then delayed by a serious looking neck injury to Bedwas troubles. Nathan Hudd who was eventually removed via the body board.
The referee deemed there was still two minutes of the half to play and after earning a penalty Merthyr went through the phases and Rhys Downes crossed for a try, Richard Powell added the extras to take the score to Bedwas 13 Merthyr 7 at the break.
The second half started with Bedwas continuing their dogged defence of their line but discipline began to slip as the pressure mounted with the penalty count mounting as a result. However it was not all bad news as the trusty boot of Steffan Jones increased the Bedwas lead to 16 points to 9.
Merthyr full back Kristian Phillips exploited a gap in the Bedwas defence to cross and with Powell’s conversion his side were within two points of the home side.
Further Merthyr pressure saw Bedwas concede two penalties in front of the posts both converted by Powell, the second of which saw Pat Lewis (who has returned to the club from Cardiff) sin binned for his troubles.
A side shorn of a man invariably struggles and this game was no different as replacement prop forward Nathan Trevett found his way over the line for a try converted by Powell to put his side 11 points clear.
As the game went into its closing stages Bedwas replacement prop Jack Williams limped off with a pulled hamstring and Rhys Hutcherson re-entered the fray. Within 60 seconds Hutcherson found a gap in the visiting defence to cross for a try. Jones’ conversion took Bedwas to within four points and thus losing bonus point territory. Merthyr had other ideas as hooker Rhys Williams crossed for a try converted by Powell took that point away.
There was still time for Bedwas to mount one last attack but Merthyr were in no mood to surrender what they had earned and no further scores were added.
Geraint Edmunds was awarded Bedwas man of the match sponsored by Casa Mia Restaurant of Caerphilly.
Next Saturday Bedwas host Newport RFC in a Principality Premiership game. Due to 6 Nations rugby the kick off time for this game is again different from the norm and will kick off at 1-00pm.