It is 107 years to the day since Challenge Cup rugby was last played in Merthyr!
Merthyr took part in Wales’ first ever Challenge Cup game, away to Beverley on February 29th 1903. The welsh side ran out 15-3 winners on the day. The next round saw them drawn at home in the second round beating next weeks opponents Whitehaven 33-5. A quarter final tie away at Leigh saw Merthyr bow out of the competition after an 8-2 loss.
In 1910 Merthyr drew local rivals Ebbw Vale in Round 1 bowing out at the first opportunity 12-7 on February 26th exactly 107 years ago to the day.
Head Coach Phil Carleton will be hoping for better luck this time around as the South Wales Ironmen welcome fellow League 1 side Oxford RL. The two sides know each other well having been well matched at the wrong end of the table over the past few seasons. Last season honours were shared with each side winning away from home, the match at Caerphilly not being without controversy after an interesting interpretation of the laws of the game from the Match Official.
Carleton has welcomed back winger Yannick Parker who missed a large chunk of the 2016 season through injury. New signing Morgan Evans is unavailable but Isaac Duffy and Richard Jones come back into the squad. Carleton comments:
” We were a bit light on props in last weeks game and the lack of size cost us against a very big Skolars side. We won’t have that problem with Duffy and Jones returning. We’ve made a couple of changes in the backs and it’s great to see Yannick back. The boys have looked sharpe in training. Whilst we’ve played pretty well pre-season and in the League 1 Cup we are in a results business and we need to start turning some decent performances into wins. I’m sure the boys will give it a real go on Sunday and I’m sure it will be a cracking game.”