THE return of Damien Hudd failed to change Ebbw Vale’s fortunes as they slumped to a defeat at Merthyr in the Principality Premiership, their fifth consecutive loss, writes Jay Bayford.

The Ebbw legend was drafted into the team as injuries continue to disrupt the squad but a four-try salvo from Kyle Evans and further tries from Justin James, Kristian Phillips, Richard Wilkes and Steffan Andrews saw Merthyr ease to victory.

The visitors made the worst possible start when Srdan Majkic saw yellow inside two minutes after tackling Phillips in the air.

And Merthyr took advantage as a sweeping move saw wingers Evans and Andrews exchange passes before the former touched down.

Evans was at it again a few minutes later. He picked up possession in his own half and evaded a few challenges to get over the try line for his 10th of the season. This time Richard Powell converted.

The Steelmen rallied well and created a few attacks of their own but Merthyr didn’t look too troubled in defence.

Evans then grabbed his hat-trick shortly before the half hour mark but most of the credit should go to full-back Phillips following his lung-bursting run from deep. Powell added the extras.

And the Ironmen claimed their bonus point on the stroke of half time with Evans turning provider to set up scrum-half James.

The hosts continued to dominate after the break with Phillips, Wilkes, Andrews and Evans going over to extend the lead. Replacement Gareth Davies added three conversions.

The visitors did manage to get points on the board when Majkic bagged a consolation try but Andrews touched down at the death, with Davies converting, to ensure Merthyr had the last word.

Merthyr: Tries: K Evans (4), J James, K Phillips, R Wilkes, S Andrews (2); Cons: R Powell (2), G Davies (4).

Ebbw Vale: Try: S Majkic; Con: S Majkic.