Tries by Kieran Meek, Ieuan Jones, Amosa Nove, Mike Hale, Ashley Sweet and a penalty try.
Conversions by Kieran Meek (5).
Penalty by Owen Howe.
Rusty then super Pooler gain bonus-point victory on league return
It has been 93 weeks, well 652 days to be precise, since Pontypool last played at Pontypool Park and that was on Friday 31 January 2020 when Pooler defeated Bedwas 15-12, writes Ray Ruddick. Since then, the ground has had much work done to improve the facilities and is now even more picturesque. The new-look stand has been renamed The Ray Prosser Stand, in honour of the most influential person in the club’s rich and illustrious history. It has been a very long wait to get back to watching rugby at this historic ground and everyone connected with Pontypool RFC look forward to the season with renewed excitement. Pontypool start this campaign defending a 40-match winning run in league matches at Pontypool Park, the last home league defeat was on 23 April 2016 when RGC 1404 were victorious by 20 points to 17.
And so to the eagerly anticipated first home game back and the Championship match against Maesteg Harlequins which was played on a dry and pleasant autumnal afternoon in front of a crowd of over one thousand. The visitors kicked off attacking the new electronic scoreboard end of the ground. In the 5th minute Pooler tight head prop Craig Price was penalised for a dangerous tackle near the 22-metre line in front of the posts and was yellow carded. Full back Owen Howe stepped up and slotted the easy shot at goal to put Quins into an early lead (0-3). Three minutes later and Maesteg Harlequins were in possession just inside Pooler’s half when a pass was intercepted by Kieran Meek and the outside half sprinted 55 metres to score a try under the posts, which he duly converted (7-3).
In the 11th minute Pontypool were penalised 30 metres from their goal line, 10 metres in from touch on Quins’ right, but the attempt at goal struck the right upright and Pooler cleared. Two minutes later prop Kyan Best replaced flanker Cameron Regan in an enforced change due to the sin-binning of Craig Price. After 23 minutes visiting flanker Stephen Williams was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on near the Quins 10-metre line when Pooler were on the attack. Three minutes later great support play by Pooler in keeping the ball alive created a try for impressive No 8 Ieuan Jones to the right of the posts. Meek added the extras (14-3). The remaining seventeen minutes of the half were keenly contested with no further score. Half time score – Pontypool 14 Maesteg Harlequins 3.
In the sixth minute of the second period Pooler were penalised just inside their half in midfield but the attempt at goal fell short of the posts. In the 52nd minute the home side made a couple of changes with scrum half Owain Leonard and second row Luke Fleming-Jones making way for Mike Hale and Sam Scarfe respectively. Cameron Regan moved up from flanker to second row and Sam Scarfe slotted into the back row. On the hour mark Pooler were on the attack inside the visitors’ 22, Kieran Meek put a lovely kick through towards the left corner and left winger Amosa Nove pounced on the ball to score wide out. Meek kicked a fine conversion (21-3). After 64 minutes Pooler had a lineout inside the visitors 22 and from the ensuing drive, Maesteg Quins transgressed and the referee awarded Pooler a penalty try, which was the bonus point secured (28-3).
Fifteen minutes from time Pooler made further replacements with Alex Watkins taking over from hooker Darren Hughes and back rower Adam Stratton replaced Ieuan Jones, who caught the eye with some great carries. Then, five minutes later, Cameron Regan left the field with Luke-Fleming-Jones returning and loose head prop Sam Cochrane was replaced by Kyan Best. In the 73rd minute replacement scrum half and league debutant Mike Hale made a great break some 30 metres out and powerfully broke through a couple of tackles to score a good individual try to the left of the posts with Meek, again, adding another two points from the tee (35-3). Then with five minutes left, some great handling by forwards and backs in a move that started from deep inside Pooler’s half resulted in a try for another league debutant, the experienced Ashley Sweet when the second row scored the home side’s final try of the afternoon near the posts. Kieran Meek converted to complete a perfect five kicks out of five and a match tally of 15 points. Final score – Pontypool 42 Maesteg Harlequins 3.
Pontypool made a sluggish start to the game with several unforced errors, which was only to be expected after so long out of the game due to the pandemic. However, in the second half they started to put together some good phases of play and ran out comfortable winners in the end. However, credit to Maesteg Harlequins who made it difficult for their hosts, particularly in the first half. Pooler’s first away league game of the season will be on Saturday 27 November when they travel to The Gnoll to take on long-time friends and traditional rivals Neath, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool: Geraint Walsh, Pat Lewis, Ethan Davies, Joel Mahoney, Amosa Nove, Kieran Meek, Owain Leonard (replaced by Mike Hale), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Kyan Best), Darren Hughes (replaced by Alex Watkins), Craig Price, Luke Fleming-Jones (replaced by Sam Scarfe), Ashley Sweet, Scott Matthews (captain), Cameron Regan (replaced by the returning Luke Fleming-Jones) and Ieuan Jones (replaced by Adam Stratton).
Maesteg Harlequins: Owen Howe, Alex Griffiths, Lewis Evans, Lee Ronan, Harry Morgan-Grant, Tadhg McGuckin, Jakob Williams, Gavin Burridge, Jay Ronan, Dean Ronan, Matthew Davies, Nathan Ace, Stephen Williams, Matthew Tidball and Ryan Jones, Replacements: Dayton Owen, Michael Owen, Lloyd Freeman, Callum Powell and Geraint Evans.