In a year impressive performances and big results RGC ended 2016 with another one to add to the list.
Head Coach Mark Jones saw his side out in a big 2nd half to beat one of the pace setters in the league “ The boys spent a few extra hours on the coach last night (Monday) as the bus broke down, which wasn’t the best preparation and we started pretty lethargic today at the start. Merthyr came out the blocks and deserved they half time lead. The positive was that towards the end of the 1st half we made a few chances and got into the game. We chatted at halftime and said that if we continue to make opportunities then we will be in a good position and we made a few game chances including playing the ball from deep as well.”
Merthyr came out the blocks with some real intent, and tested the RGC defence from the kick off with an attack down the left wing. It was clear that they wanted to set the tempo with scrum half Rhys Downes getting quick ball to the backline.
The opening try came from power rather than pace, after a rolling maul went over the line and hooker Rhys Williams claimed it for Merthyr.
RGC were struggling to get into the game, and the travelling fans didn’t have much to cheer about. Phil Rees was carrying the ball well for Merthyr and the Gogs were having to make the tackles.
Matters were made worse when Alex Schwarz was given a yellow for a swinging arm and the league leaders capitalised on the extra man when Kyle Evan scored. It was a well worked try with Lee Jarvis kicking to the corner and the winger collected to touch down. Jarvis added the extras.
It wasn’t the best opening 20 minutes of rugby from RGC but Jacob Botica got them on the board with a penalty, but disappointingly the gave Merthyr a simple try from the restart. Aaron Pincer scored with Jarvis knocking over the conversion.
The homeside were working hard at the breakdown, and making it hard for RGC at the breakdown which meant the Gogs couldn’t build any phase play.
As the game moved onto the 30 minute mark RGC finally made some inroads into the Merthyr half with Tim Grey and Evan Yardley making some breaks.
Botica kicked another penalty in between a flurry of yellow cards, which saw Huw Worthington and 2 Merthyr players carded.
With the man advantage the momentum swung towards RGC and they began to play the ball wide with Tiaan Loots and Tom Hughes spotting some gaps.
As halftime approached Jacob Botica hit another penalty to make it 19-9 at the break.
The 2nd half was pretty stop/start for the opening quarter as both sides looked for that important score, but it was RGC that were looking more dangerous with Yardley having a great game with ball in hand.
Sam Jones was unlucky as he chased down a Botica kick but it bounced into touch. The RGC fly-half was also begging to get into the game with some clever passes feeding Hughes and Loots on the run.
The homesides defence was holding firm, and they were closing down Schwarz at every opportunity. RGC were looking for the gap, and on some occasions forcing the pass too quickly.
As the temperature dropped to freezing the game was hotting up on the pitch and the game turned with a Tom Hughes try. It was a well worked move with a Botica reverse pass setting up the centre to score. Extras added by Botica.
Sam Wainwright and Henri Williams may both be teenagers but they grew in stature as the game went on in the scrum.
Merthyr found themselves down to 14 men for the remainder of the game when full-back Jarvis was yellowed.
As much as the plaudits will go to RGC’s attacking play, defensively the nullified Merthyr as they looked to score. One of the standouts with the tackles was Tom Hughes and he raised his game in the final 10 minutes.
That defensive work enabled RGC to go on another attack and the winning try came from Aron Evans as he darted down the line to keep in touch and go over under the posts. The conversion came from the boot of Botica.
As the clock ticked down Merthyr looked for that try, but it was the RGC defence that stood tall and made sure the line was not broken.
It was as good a 2nd half as RGC have played this season, and with a number of Academy players in the squad RGC can take huge positives heading into 2017.
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