Tries: Joe Blackmore (2), Nathan Brooks (2), Sam Watkins (1), Aaron Quick (1), Marc Thorley (1), Gareth Rusby-Davies (1), Ashley Gibson (1), Ben Parry (1), Kieran Meek (1).
Conversions: Matthew Jones (5), Kieran Meek (3), Sam Mills (1)
Tries: Seamus Casey (2), Ben Snell (1)
Conversions: Morgan West (3)
A good work-out for both sides in the sunshine
On a glorious summer’s afternoon at picturesque Pontypool Park, Pontypool and Caerleon served up a very entertaining pre-season friendly game with both sides wanting to spread the ball, writes Ray Ruddick.
Caerleon, who were runners-up to Abertillery/Blaenau Gwent in last season’s Division 2 East and promoted to Division 1 East for this campaign were paying their first visit to Pontypool Park for a first team game. However this was the second time the clubs have met as Pontypool made the short trip to The Broadway in November 2010 to help celebrate Caerleon’s 40th anniversary.
The match was split into four 20-minute quarters and Pontypool kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground and after 3 minutes, good build-up play between forwards and backs resulted in full back Sam Watkins going over for a try to the left of the posts. Outside half Sam Mills converted (7-0). Then for the next quarter-of-an-hour or so the teams cancelled each other out until the 20th minute when a good break by Sam Watkins took play into the Caerleon 22 and he offloaded to left wing Joe Blackmore who crossed in the left corner. The conversion failed (12-0). Three minutes later and a good break by hooker Jamie Jeune inside the visitors’ 22 put Aaron Quick in the clear and the scrum half crossed for a try under the posts. This score was converted by new player-coach Mathew Jones (19-0).
Just before the half-hour mark, Pooler went on the attack again and the ball reached Joe Blackmore, now playing in the centre, who danced over for a try to the right of the posts, converted by outside half Matthew Jones (26-0). Six minutes before half time, the ball went loose in the Pooler half, the home side gathered and wing Marc Thorley was put in the clear and sprinted 45 metres and touched down in the left corner. Matthew Jones added the extras (33-0). Three minutes later, Caerleon took play deep in the Pooler 22, the ball went right and a neat chip to the right corner was gathered by right wing Seamus Casey and he crossed for a well-worked try. The conversion was kicked by outside half Morgan West (33-7). Right on half time, a lovely break by right wing James Bowley offloaded to prop Joe Popple who took play into the visitors’ 22. In support was Gareth Rusby-Davies, and the back rower dived under the posts for a try which was converted by Matthew Jones. Half time Pontypool 40 Caerleon 7.
After 47 minutes, another good break by Bowley up the left flank passed to the supporting Ashley Gibson and the young flanker crossed in the corner for an unconverted try (45-7). Eight minutes later saw Caerleon hit back when former Pooler centre Chris Macey made a good run and passed to his fellow centre Ben Snell, who scored under the posts, converted by Morgan West (45-14). Pooler replied immediately when hooker Ben Parry scored in the left corner after the ball had travelled across the pitch from wide on the right. The conversion was made by centre Kieran Meek (52-24). On the hour mark back came The Romans with another good build-up and Seamus Casey crossed in the right corner for his second touch-down of the afternoon. Once again, Morgan West added the conversion (52-21). With eight minutes remaining some good passing by the Pontypool forwards and backs took play into the Caerleon 22 and wing Nathan Brooks scored under the posts which Matthew Jones converted (59-21). Six minutes later Kieran Meek crossed in the left corner after a bout of inter-passing and he improved his try to a goal with a fine conversion (66-21). The last move of the game saw Nathan Brooks cross again under the posts which Kieran Meek converted to make the final score Pontypool 73 Caerleon 21.
This was a useful work out for the two clubs and both can take positives from the game, which was played in a very good spirit. Pontypool now look forward to next Saturday when they welcome Premiership outfit Aberavon to Pontypool Park for the second of their three pre-season fixtures. The following Saturday (27th), Pontypool travel to Llynfi Road to take on Maesteg of Division One West Central. Pooler’s first Championship league game will be on Saturday 3rd September when Narberth make the long journey from Pembrokeshire to Pontypool Park. All games kick-off at 2.30pm.
Pontypool (starting XV): Sam Watkins, Nathan Brooks, Marc Thorley, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Joe Blackmore, Sam Mills, Dan Brooks, Ollie Drake, Ben Parry, Joe Popple, Kristian Smith, Curtis Gregory, Callum Davies, Luke Morgan and Ben Sparks. Also played: Kieran Meek, Dan Robinson, James Bowley, Matthew Jones, Aaron Quick, Aaron Coundley, Jamie Jeune, Sam Evans, Matthew Thomas, Richard East, Ashley Gibson, Gareth Rusby-Davies, Thomas Tipper and Simon Church.