EBBW Vale endured more cup heartache against Merthyr as the Ironmen defeated the Steelmen on the final play of the game, writes Peter Hughes.

The match was marred, however, by unseemly scenes involving players and spectators following the final whistle.

It was the home side that opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty on the Ebbw Vale 22 kicked by full back Matthew Jarvis.

Following a prolonged period of pressure on the Merthyr 22, visiting outside half, Rhys Jones, opted for the boot, levelling matters with a 14th minute drop goal.

It was the home side that enjoyed the best of the possession and territory for the remainder of the half but some stout Ebbw Vale defending, coupled with a number of handling errors in the driving rain and wind meant they were unable to convert that advantage into points.

Rather, it was the visitors who moved into the lead with a 35th minute Rhys Jones penalty. They might have extended it further if referee Elgan Williams hadn’t reversed another penalty to decision, to the home side’s benefit, following a flare-up between the two packs after the whistle meaning that the half time score remained 6 – 3 to Ebbw Vale.

Merthyr started the second half on the offensive, getting to within five minutes of the Ebbw Vale try line before spilling the ball after which the game descended into something of a stalemate until Pontypridd concede a penalty for offside on the Steelmen’s 10-metre line. They conceded a second penalty on their 22 from the resultant lineout and a third successful kick for Rhys Jones extended the visitor’s lead.

An attempt by Matthew Jarvis to narrow the gap failed when his 69th minute long-range penalty kick grazed the wrong side of the upright. A break by replacement scrum half Justin James set up another scoring opportunity for the hosts only for the ball to once again be spilt forward.

A thrilling conclusion to the game saw Merthyr on the 5 metre line notching up repeated scrums as the Vale lost replacement hooker Joe Franchi to a yellow card before the referee awarded a penalty try, immediately blowing the whistle for full time.

Scorers Merthyr Tydfil – Try: Pen (80 + 11) Pen: M Jarvis (6) Ebbw Vale – Pen: R Jones (35, 61) DG: R Jones (14) Teams Merthyr Tydfil: M Jarvis, T Gee, A Thomas, A Pinches, J Baker, G Davies, R Downes (J James 63), J Howe, R Williams, L Jones (J Rees 63), P McBride, C Locke (capt), H Barnes, O Davies, P Rees.

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond, S Thomas, P King, D Franchi, T Fricker (Rhys Jones 55), D Jones, Ross Jones (J Franchi 48), R Francis (L Garrett 48), R Sevenoaks (C Coleman 48), K Parker, A Sweet (capt), R Clarke, L Evans (L Young 70), C Regan.

Referee: Mr Elgan Williams (WRU).