Cardiff fell to a high-scoring defeat against Merthyr at the Arms Park on Saturday as the pool stage of the Indigo Group Premiership Cup came to a close.
With a home quarter-final already secured, Steve Law took the opportunity to have a look at some new faces in the starting XV as a new front row of Brynley Toms, Alun Rees and Ollie Drake packed down, while Alex Mann got the start at openside flanker opposite 17-year-old Mackenzie Martin making his Rags debut on the blindside.
It was the Ironmen who made the rapid start to proceedings though as former Cardiff Academy member Ben Jones and Paddy McBride touched down inside the first 10 minutes with former Rags fly-half Gareth Thompson converting both.
Ioan Evans got Cardiff on the scoreboard at the mid-way point of the half, but Aaron Pinches and Justin James secured a bonus point for Merthyr after just 36 minutes, with Thompson adding one more conversion. However, Alex Everett and Cameron Winnett both managed to cross the line, Winnett for his first Rags try, with Jack Maynard cutting the half-time deficit to 17-26.
Ryan Wilkins carried on the momentum early in the second half with Maynard adding the extras, and the Blue and Blacks stayed in touch even after Chris Phillips’ try was converted by Thompson when Jacob Beetham crossed for a fifth team try.
Unfortunately though late tries for Dafydd Stonelake and Adam Hoskins, plus a further Thompson conversion, gave the Ironmen all five points thanks to a 29-45 final scoreline, and secured their place in the quarter-final.
Cardiff will now travel to Carmarthen Quins in the Cup quarter-final which is reportedly scheduled to take place either in March or April, as the Welsh Rugby Union continue to make the season up as they go along.