A LATE Justin James try broke Ebbw Vale hearts as Merthyr edged in the WRU National Cup final, writes Ian Golden.

The pouring rain in the morning had done nothing for the state of the Pandy Park pitch and the quality of the game suffered as a result with few chances created to score tries.

Ebbw Vale, who only made the one replacement during the game, missed an early opportunity to get the first valuable points on the board after Dai Langdon let nerves get the better of him and sent a kickable penalty wide.

However, Merthyr’s Matthew Jarvis had no issues when presented with a similar opportunity, his kick from about 40 metres out going straight through the sticks.

Ebbw levelled things on 10 minutes after Langdon converted on the second time of asking.

The first chance for a try came three minutes later with Merthyr failing to take advantage of a great passing move. It had gone through three players but Kane Evans mishandled Tom Riley’s pass when close to goal.

It was Ebbw who eventually took a 6-3 lead when a long-range Langdon penalty hit the post then trickled over the bar.

With Ebbw’s defence as good as their attack in the first half, Dom Franchi saved a certain Merthyr try when he outran two opposition players to leap on the ball after it landed on Ebbw’s 10 metre line.

And after Jarvis kicked a long-distance penalty wide, Ebbw went into the break with a slender three-point lead.

Merthyr again missed a chance to level eight minutes into the second half. With Jarvis substituted at half time, the former Bedwas kicker Richard Powell stepped up, only to see his effort go slightly wide.

Powell was substituted soon after that incident so it was left to Gareth Davies to attempt the next kick for Merthyr, and he had to wait until the 71st minute.

Just two minutes before that very goal attempt, Merthyr replacement Josh Martin looked like he was creating the first try of the game, only to see the ball go into the hands of a man wearing maroon.

However, following the next line-out, James pounced on a loose ball running 20 metres to score with Davies converting to put the Ironmen 10-6 up, a lead that they hung onto for the final ten minutes for a famous cup victory.

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond; T Fricker, J Lewis, D Franchi, S Thomas; D Langdon, D Jones; R Jones, R Francis, R Sevenoaks; K Parker, L Randall; C Regan, R Kynes, L Young (J Franchi 76).

Penalties: D Langdon (2)

Merthyr: M Jarvis (J Martin 40); K Evans, T Riley, A Pinches, R Carter; R Powell (G Davies 58), J James; N Trevett (L Jones 59), R Williams (M Dwyer 76), J Rees; B Murphy, C Locke, N White (E Siggery 53), O Davies, P Rees.

Try: J James; Con: G Davies; Pens: M Jarvis.

Star man: D Langdon