Tries by Scott Matthews (3), Rob Nash (1), Richard East (1) and Martin Luckwell (1).
Conversions by Matthew Lewis (3).
Penalty by Matthew Lewis (1).
Try by Mike Owen (1).
Conversion by Rhodri Davies (1).
Penalties by Owen Howe (2).
Pooler’s comfortable bonus-point victory against new boys Maesteg Harlequins
Pontypool and Maesteg Harlequins met for the first time at colourful Pontypool Park on Saturday and Pooler came away with another bonus-point win that took them back to the top of the WRU National Championship table after Cardiff Met’s 16-11 defeat at Narberth, writes Ray Ruddick. Pontypool is now the only team with a 100% record in the Championship.
It was a sad day for Pontypool RFC as it remembered two former players and its baggage man who passed away recently. Full back Ray Cheney who played for the club between 1957 and 1963 died on 12 September aged 82. Another full back and prolific goal kicker Robin Williams, who passed away on 18 October 2018, aged 68, played for Pooler from 1973 to 1975 and again in the 1976-1977 season, scoring a Welsh club record of 517 points in Pontypool’s Welsh Clubs’ Championship-winning season of 1974-75. Terry ‘Tiger’ Simons, who had been a supporter for around 70 years, a club volunteer for almost 50 years and baggage man for the past 30 years or so, died aged 83, on 11 October 2018 after a long illness. Before kick-off there was a minute silence in their memory.
Pontypool took to the field in their changed strip of blue. Maesteg Quins kicked off playing towards the scoreboard end of the ground on a cold afternoon. In the seventh minute home tight head prop Ollie Drake received a gash near the eye and was replaced by Craig Price. Three minutes later Quins were penalised at a scrum 20 metres from their line in front of the posts and young Pooler outside half Matthew Lewis slotted the kick at goal (3-0). In the 14th minute Quins gave away another penalty, this time for side entry, deep in their 22. Pooler kicked for the left corner and from the driving lineout, captain Rob Nash scored an unconverted try (8-0). 16 minutes had been played when Pooler were caught offside in front of their posts inside their 22. Quins full back Owen Howe kicked the relatively easy goal (8-3).
In the 22nd minute Maesteg Harlequins’ second row Nathan Smith was injured following a lineout inside the Quins 22 and was stretchered off the field and hope he has a speedy recovery. After the 10-minute delay Pooler restarted with a scrum put in in midfield inside Quins 22. The ball went right and flanker Scott Matthews scored an unconverted try in the corner (13-3). In the 40th minute Matthews scored his second try of the game following a rolling maul. Matthew Lewis added the extras (20-3). Five minutes later Pooler again strayed offside on their 22 to the left of the posts and Owen Howe kicked his second penalty (20-6). In the 50th minute Quins hooker Jay Ronan was yellow carded for offside and taking a player out at a maul inside the visitors’ 22. Half time score – Pontypool 20 Maesteg Harlequins 6.
In the second minute of the second period, from a Pooler lineout, the home pack with a well-controlled drive, pushed their opponents back from the 22 to the goal line and tireless flanker Scott Matthews scored his hat trick and bonus-point try. The conversion attempt failed (25-6). In the 56th minute Pontypool made a couple of changes when scrum half Aaron Quick made way for Martin Luckwell and centre James Hussey was replaced by Ceri Morris.
Just after the hour mark and after putting pressure on the Quins’ defence with more forward drives, the ball reached second row Richard East who barged over for a try in the right corner. Matthew Lewis kicked a fine conversion from wide out (32-6). Then Pooler’s hard-working number eight Brendan Lampitt was replaced by Craig Attwell. In the 65th minute Pontypool’s loose head prop Aaron Coundley left the field and, with no other prop to cover, the scrums went passive and Pooler had to play the rest of the game with 14 men. Shortly after, Lewis Ball took over from Ben Parry in the middle of Pooler’s front row.
In the 70th minute Maesteg Harlequins deservedly scored a try by number eight Mike Owen, 10 metres in from the left corner. Replacement Rhodri Davies converted (32-13). Six minutes later, Matthew Lewis made a great break on the loop and gained 40 metres. He passed to wing Jordan Thomas near the 22 and Thomas made good ground, getting tackled just short of the goal line. The ball was recycled and replacement scrum half Martin Luckwell picked up the ball, dummied, and dived over for a try, 15 metres in from the right corner. Matthew Lewis added the two points. Final score – Pontypool 39 Maesteg Harlequins 13.
This was a comfortable victory for Pooler but the game stuttered in parts. The home side were too strong for their visitors but Quins battled throughout the game and never gave up.
There is no game on Saturday as Wales play Scotland in the autumn internationals. The following Saturday (10 November) Pooler are on the road when they take on Trebanos at Trebanos Park, kick off to be announced later due to the early evening kick off for the Wales v Australia game. The next home game is on Saturday 24 November when the students of Cardiff Met are the welcome visitors to Pontypool Park. Again the kick off will be announced closer to the game as Wales play South Africa that day in another early evening kick off.
Pontypool: Geraint Walsh, Jordan Thomas, Clayton Gullis, James Hussey (replaced by Ceri Morris), Rhodri Usher, Matthew Lewis, Aaron Quick (replaced by Martin Luckwell), Aaron Coundley, Ben Parry (replaced by Lewis Ball), Ollie Drake (replaced by Craig Price), Ben Egan, Richard East, Scott Matthews, Rob Nash (captain) and Brendan Lampitt (replaced by Craig Attwell).