Jacob Botica put the boot into Merthyr and gave RGC 1404 the perfect start to the Principality Premiership Tier 1 campaign with a last gasp penalty that earned the 'Gogs' a notable 25-24 victory.
It was a triumph that completed the double over last season's Championship winners and proved beyond all doubt that Mark Jones' north Wales outfit are going to be serious contenders for the Premiership title this season.
"We didn't perform in the opening 40 minutes, failed to keep the ball and didn't take our chances. We tightened up in all aspects in the second half and attacked the space to take the tries," said Jones after watching his team get out of gaol after falling 24-3 behind.
"It was far from perfect but I think we kept our discipline which made the difference in regards to the yellow cards in a fiery game of rugby."
Merthyr lost three players to the sin-bin - centre Arron Pinches for a tackle on Tiaan Loots near the start. Prop Nathan Trevett for a high tackle and then centre Martyn Thomas 10 minutes from time for a tackle off the ball - and they proved crucial in the final analysis.
Botica and Matthew Jarvis swapped penalties before Pinches sped away for the first of his side's three tries. Jarvis converted and then Merthyr made the most of the home side losing a player to the sin-bin.
While Joe Simpson was cooling off, Tom Daley won a kick and chase to score a second try for the Ironmen and Jarvis' second successful conversion made it 17-3 to the visitors at the break. That lead grew to 21 points when prop Ben Murphy was driven over from a line-out and Jarvis once again added the extras
Tempers flared again after the try and Merthyr lost Trevett to the bin soon after. RGC went in for the kill and Rhys Williams rumbled over for a try that Botica converted to launch the fight back. Jarvis was crucially wide with a penalty shot that would have boosted the Merthyr cause and when Williams charged over for his second try, once again converted by Botica, RGC were back within eight points.
Loots was next to cross the Ironmen's line, supporting a break by Williams that was carried on by Alex Schwarz, but Botica missed he chance to level the scores as he pushed his conversion kick wide. It didn't matter, though, because the Kiwi outside half more than made amends when he was given a match winning shot in the 80th minute and hit the mark to send the Parc Eirias crowd into raptures.
Lewis Williams ran in an impressive hat-trick as Pontypridd began their Tier 1 campaign with a bang at Sardis Road with a 35-14 win over Carmarthen Quins. Huw Dowden and Gary Williams added to Williams' three try blast as the five-time Premiership winners took revenge on the Quins for their 32-26 away defeat in November.
The home side began well and went ahead within two minutes. Forward pressure led to Dowden going over with former Wales international Ceri Sweeney adding the extras.
Williams had his first of the day after Dale Stuckey's clean break. Sweeney added the conversion before the Quins replied minutes later through Iolo Evans' score - Josh Batcup was good with the two points but missed a penalty to keep the score 14-7 at the break.
Williams scored his second 14 minutes into the second-half and it soon got worse for the visitors when Ellis Lloyd was sent to the bin. Williams was on hand to complete his hat-trick with Sweeney impressively kicking the conversion from out wide.
Gavin Thomas got on the scoresheet late on for Carmarthen before full-back Williams had a try of his own following his two assists for hat-trick man Williams.
Reigning champions Ebbw Vale found Bedwas too hot to handle once again as they sunk to a 15-12 home defeat. Richard Powell kicked all 15 points for the visitors, although the Steelmen took things down to the wire after Jack Goodey's 65th minute try cut the gap to three points.
Ebbw Vale only just managed to scrape their way into the top Tier after overcoming Cross Keys on the final day of the first phase of the newly formed league. Damian Hudd's men were looking to put disappointing opening-half to the season behind them and were well in the game.
Powell got the visitors off to a positive start with a penalty before Ronny Kynes replied from a catch and drive. Josh Lewis converted, but Powell closed the gap to one point on the brink of half-time and then the outside-half carried on from where he left off with another three points.
Lewis was wide of the mark with a shot for the home side, but Powell was in no mood to miss and added two more penalties to make it 15-7. Goodey crossed, but Lewis' missed conversion left the hosts three points short as Bedwas held on for the win.
In Tier 2, there were three away wins as Newport, Bargoed and Neath all came up trumps on the road. The only home win came at Pandy Park, where Cross Keys beat Llanelli 9-6 in a game of five penalties - three from the boot of Josh Prosser and two for Ian Brooks.
Cardiff must be sick of the sight of Neath this season because this was the fourth time the Welsh All Blacks had beaten them in all competitions.
Neath's 20-9 triumph in the opening game of the Principality Premiership's Tier 2 campaign followed a 20-19 home win in the first half of the season and a Foster's Challenge Cup double (40-23 and 28-23).
The difficult conditions meant there were no points in the opening quarter and the first of Ed Howley's four kicks at goal gave the visitors the lead in the 21st minute. Gareth Thompson soon replied and it was 3-3 at half-time.
Thompson and Howley swapped penalties in the 50th and 55th minutes before Thompson gave Cardiff the lead with his third strike. That came after Neath lock Jon Barley saw yellow, but his side made light of their lack of numbers and conjured up two tries in the space of six minutes.
Cardiff dropped the ball from the re-start after Thompson's third goal and Callum Davies pounced to regain possession and set up a Neath drive that ended with skipper Jordan Collier driving over. Howley added the extras and was then heavily involved in the sweeping backline move that paved the way for a second try for wing Geraint Llewellyn, which the full back once again converted.
Newport were comfortable 25-14 winners over Bridgend Ravens at the Brewery Field. Craig Attwell went over for a brace of tries for the Black & Ambers who led 17-0 at the break and sealed the bonus-point 15 minutes from time.
A penalty try in the 19th minute put the visitors on the front foot before flanker Attwell scored his first of the day 10 minutes later. Centre Haydn Palmer went over for number three after capitalising on an error from the Ravens.
Things were going well for the visitors until Will Evans was sin-binned just before half-time. Bridgend couldn't capitalise on their man advantage and soon the tables were turned when Iestyn Merriman was yellow carded for the hosts.
But the Ravens scored the game's next try through Jamie Murphy with Joseph Scrivens converting before Attwell found his second and the bonus-point minutes later. Chris Williams dotted down for the Ravens to make the scoreline appear more respectable with O'Brien capping off the win with a late penalty.
Three first-half tries proved just enough for Bargoed as they triumphed 18-13 over the All Whites at St Helen's. The Bulls have now lost just once in their last nine matches as they continue to find their feet since promotion last season.
Unconverted scores from Phil Price, David Evans and Duane Dyer helped the visitors into an 18-10 lead at half-time. The two teams had been propping up the Premiership table before the league split into the two tier system with just five wins between them in the 16-team format.
But the new tier of rugby seemed to spur on the sides with Swansea wing Andrew Claypole crossing after just five minutes, with Jack Wilson adding the extras. Bargoed responded quickly with scrum-half James Hallett kicking a penalty just three minutes later.
The visitors then took the lead on 15 minutes when centre Price went over before wing Evans crossed 20 minutes later to extend their lead. Wilson closed the gap to just three points only minutes before the break, but that did not last long as Bargoed grabbed another try on the stroke of half-time through Dyer.
The second-half was a quieter affair as a solitary Wilson penalty meant Swansea could only salvage a losing bonus point from a close and bruising battle.
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