Try by Jonny Lewis (1).
Penalties by Jonny Lewis (2).
Tries by Aaron Quick (1) and Alex Watkins (1).
Penalties by Matthew Jones (3).
Pontypool make history (twice) at Parc y Scarlets
Pontypool were looking to take their impressive form in the WRU National Championship into this first round tie in the WRU National Cup as they made the long trip west to Parc y Scarlets to take on Principality Premiership outfit and “cup kings” Llanelli, writes Ray Ruddick. Jubilant Pooler returned home with a historic victory. It was the first time in ten attempts that Pontypool beat Llanelli in a WRU Cup tie and it was their first win at Parc y Scarlets, having suffered defeat in their four previous visits.
Pontypool kicked off playing towards the “Sosban” stand. It was all Llanelli in the opening exchanges as they put Pooler under the cosh and tested the visitors defence but Pooler managed to keep their hosts out. In the eighth minute Llanelli were in possession near their 22 but the ball went loose in a tackle and was gathered by Pooler scrum half Aaron Quick. He made the initial break and passed to left wing Rhodri Usher who then gave the return pass to Quick who sprinted over for a try in the left corner. Outside half Matthew Jones’s conversion attempt struck the upright (5-0).
Eighteen minutes had been played before the first scrum, which was near the home goal line with a Llanelli put in. Pooler were penalised for deliberately wheeling and Llanelli cleared. In the 24th minute Llanelli were penalised for the same offence near their 10-metre line slightly to the right of the posts and Matthew Jones slotted a fine kick to extend Pooler’s advantage (8-0).
After 38 minutes Matthew Jones attempted a drop goal but the ball was touched in flight and went dead so Pooler had a scrum five near the Llanelli posts but they lost the ball and home side cleared. Going into injury time Pooler were guilty of not rolling away at a ruck, 35 metres from their goal line in front of the posts and home centre Jonny Lewis kicked the goal to open Llanelli’s account (8-3). In the third minute of injury time the visitors were penalised for not releasing, 10 metres in from Llanelli’s left touchline, two metres inside Pooler’s half but the attempt at goal went wide. Half time Llanelli 3 Pontypool 8.
With only 2 minutes gone of the second period, Pontypool were guilty of handling in a ruck in front of their posts and Jonny Lewis slotted an easy three points (8-6). In the 52nd minute Llanelli were on the attack and, eventually, Pooler’s impressive defence was breached when Jonny Lewis scored a try to the right of the posts but he missed the conversion (8-11). Six minutes later Llanelli were penalised for side entry in front of their posts and Matthew Jones kicked the goal to bring the scores level at 11-11. Pontypool’s tight head prop Ollie Drake was then replaced by Ryan Harford.
In the 65th minute Llanelli were penalised for standing up at a scrum near their 10-metre line in midfield but Matthew Jones’s attempt at goal went wide. Six minutes later Pooler captain Ben Parry was replaced by Alex Watkins. In the 76th minute Pooler were on the attack and put pressure on the home defence. In a patient build-up and some good handling Pontypool were near the home goal line and replacement hooker Alex Watkins dived over in the right corner for an unconverted try (16-11).
In the second minute of injury time, Llanelli were guilty of going off their feet at a ruck to the right of the posts, 13 metres inside the home half and Matthew Jones extended Pooler’s lead with a successful shot at goal (19-11). Deep into injury time Pooler brought on fresh legs with Cameron Watson-Boycott replacing Jordan Williams in the back row and a little later Aaron Quick made way for Rhys Dyer. Pontypool finished strongly and play was in the home 22 with Pooler in possession at the final whistle. Final score Llanelli 11 Pontypool 19.
This was a thoroughly deserved victory for Pontypool over their Premiership opponents. There was a hunger and a burning desire by Pooler to perform well and to get a positive result - they did just that. It was very much a team effort and every player deserves much credit for their contribution towards this famous win.
Next Saturday Pontypool return to league action when they pay their first ever visit to Tennant Park to face Championship newcomers Skewen, kick-off 2.30pm. The second round of the WRU National Cup is scheduled for Saturday 18 February with the draw being made early this week.
Pontypool: Kieran Meek, Marc Thorley, Dan Robinson, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Rhodri Usher, Matthew Jones, Aaron Quick (replaced by Rhys Dyer), Aaron Coundley, Ben Parry (captain, replaced by Alex Watkins), Ollie Drake (replaced by Ryan Harford), Gareth Rusby-Davies, Richard East, Jordan Williams (replaced by Cameron Watson-Boycott), Rob Nash, Ben Sparks.