Andy Powell’s bid to turn Merthyr into the first SSE SWALEC Championship winners of the SSE SWALEC Cup wasn’t made any easier when the draw for the semi-finals was made at the Welsh Rugby Union.
The runaway Championship leaders, who beat the 14 time winners Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets last weekend to reach the last eight, will meet either Ebbw Vale of Llandovery if they can get past Pontypridd at Sardis Road in the quarter-finals.
While Llanelli were seventh in the Principality Premiership table when they beat them, Pontypridd are currently back on top and Ebbw Vale are six points behind them in fourth with Llandovery one place further back on the same number of points.
Pontypridd are bidding for a sixth successive Cup Final and have six wins and six defeats in their 12 finals to date. Ebbw Vale have reached one final, losing to Llanelli at Ashton Gate, Bristol, in 2002, while Llandovery famously beat Cardiff 20-18 at the Millennium Stadium to win the title in 2007.
Carmarthen Quins, who came from behind to beat giant-killers RGC 1404 in Colwyn Bay last weekend, are the only team safely through to the semi-finals to date. They will meet the winners of the game between Cross Keys and Neath as they aim for a second final appearance following on from their 20-8 defeat to arch-rivals Llanelli in 2008.
Keys last won the title in 2012 and were runners-up two years later. Gareth Llewellyn and Martyn Morris, the Neath coach and team manager, know all about cup runs from their playing days at The Gnoll and will be hoping to inspire the Premiership’s basement team to shoot for cup glory.
Reigning Plate champions Ystrad Rhondda will have to travel to either Skewen or Risca to keep their hopes of retaining the trophy alive following the quarter-final draw. Before then though, they have to handle a home clash with Penclawdd.
Pembrokeshire club Whitland will host the winners of Llangennech v Cwmllynfell and could get the chance to avenge their Division 1 West defeat, 32-31, by Llangennech earlier in the season. Last season’s semi-finalists, Penallta, will have to travel to face the winners of the game between Treorchy and Ammanford.
The back log of games in the Bowl have made the quarter-final draw a tricky one, but safely through to the last eight are Abercarn and Tumble, both of who have home draws.
The SSE SWALEC Finals day will take place at Principality Stadium on Sunday, 1 May – the day after Wales’ four regional sides meet at the stadium in Judgement Day IV.
It means you could see five top flight matches at the home of Welsh rugby over one weekend for a mere £20. Judgement Day prices are £10, while tickets for the three games on SSE SWALEC Finals Day will be £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.