Tries by Mark Davies and Lawrence Howley. Conversion by Lawrence Howley.
Tries by Nathan Brooks (3), Aaron Quick (2), Josh Hurley (1), Josh Heywood (1), Adam Stratton (1) and Rhodri Usher (1).
Conversions by Matthew Jones (6) and Sam Mills (2).
Pooler run in 9 tries against spirited Maesteg
Pontypool paid their first visit in 11 years to Llynfi Road to face Division One West Central side Maesteg in the last of their three pre-season friendlies, writes Ray Ruddick. Although Pontypool was the stronger side, Maesteg gave a good account of themselves and never gave up.
Pooler kicked off playing towards the score board end of the ground. Within the first minute Pontypool’s talented outside half Matthew Jones got the ball near Maesteg’s 22 and chipped ahead for right wing Nathan Brooks to gather and cross for the opening try of the game, converted by Matthew Jones (7-0). In the seventh minute Pooler took play to near The Old Parish’s 22 with some good recycling. Matthew Jones gave a lovely pass out to wing Nathan Brooks who beat his opposite number to score a try to the right of the posts, converted by Matthew Jones, with the assistance of the right upright (14-0).
Just before the midway point of the first half Pontypool won a lineout on Maesteg’s throw inside the home 22. A long pass from Matthew Jones to Nathan Brooks, who came infield from the wing, side-stepped a Maesteg defender and passed to full back Josh Hurley who scored near the posts which Matthew Jones converted (21-0). With just under a quarter-of-an-hour left Maesteg fought back well and scored a try through hooker Mark Davies after a good build up following a lineout in Pooler’s 22. Outside half Lawrence Howley added the extras (21-7). After 34 minutes Pooler won a lineout on their left in Maesteg’s 22. The visitors then spread the ball right and took play near to home goal line. A lovely offload by Matthew Jones to Josh Hurley who then passed to Nathan Brooks and the young winger scored his third try of the afternoon, converted by Matthew Jones (28-7). With the last play of the first period, Pooler centre Dan Robinson made a strong run in midfield and then an arcing run from Nathan Brooks resulted in a try by scrum half Aaron Quick, converted by Matthew Jones. Half time score Maesteg 7 Pontypool 35.
After 10 minutes of the second half Pooler’s powerful scrum was putting pressure on the home side near Maesteg’s line. The Pontypool eight drove their opponents back which gave Aaron Quick time to dance his way over for a try near the posts, converted by Matthew Jones (42-7). Midway through the second period Pooler were camped in Maesteg’s 22 and replacement back row forward Josh Heywood forced his way over for a try to the right of the posts. Centre Sam Mills slotted the conversion (49-7).
In the 63rd minute Pooler went on the attack again and replacement centre Adam Stratton crossed for another try with the ball going through several pairs of hands in the build up. This score was converted by Sam Mills (56-7). However, Maesteg responded well and four minutes later, Lawrence Howley scored a well-deserved try in the right corner. The conversion failed (56-12). With six minutes remaining Pooler took play into The Old Parish’s 22 and wing Rhodri Usher scored an unconverted try wide out on the right. Final score Maesteg 12 Pontypool 61.
This was a promising display by Pooler with some neat touches and powerful forward play. The three pre-season friendlies have proved to be very useful in Pontypool’s preparation for the start of the Championship campaign which starts next Saturday when Narberth make the long trip from Pembrokeshire to Pontypool Park, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool (starting XV): Josh Hurley, Nathan Brooks, Dan Robinson, Sam Mills, Rhodri Usher, Matthew Jones, Aaron Quick, Joe Popple, Ben Parry (captain), Ollie Drake, Kristian Smith, Richard East, Callum Davies, Gareth Rusby-Davies, Ashley Gibson. Also played: Jamie Jeune, Alex Watkins, Curtis Gregory, Matthew Thomas, Josh Heywood, Josh Reade, Rob Nash, Will Guy, Rhys Dyer, Dan Brooks, Liam Grosvenor, Adam Stratton, Jake Urbanos.