Tries by Ioan Hughes and Osian Davies.
Conversions by Ioan Hughes (2).
Tries by Pat Lewis (2) and Scott Matthews.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis and Dai Langdon.
Pooler take Premiership scalp in the searing heat at Llandovery
Pontypool travelled west to the pleasant surroundings of Church Bank to take on one of the top sides in the Indigo Premiership in their second of three pre-season friendlies on a hot afternoon, writes Ray Ruddick.
Pooler’s last visit to Llandovery was back in December 2011, when they came away with a 23-6 victory.
The temperature reached the low thirties degrees Celsius and full credit must go to all the players and officials in what must have been difficult conditions. As in Pontypool’s match at Dings Crusaders RFC the previous Saturday, the game was split into three 30-minute periods.
Llandovery kicked off attacking the clubhouse end of the ground and were soon into their stride. As early as the second minute Llandovery opened the scoring when they put the Pontypool defence under pressure and outside-half Ioan Hughes went over for a try to the left of the posts and he duly converted (7-0). Then, six minutes later, the Drovers doubled their lead when, after another period of pressure and several drives inside Pooler’s 22, flanker Osian Davies crossed for a try, which Ioan Hughes improved (14-0). Pooler were starved of possession in the first period and the Drovers were worthy of their lead as the majority of play was in Pontypool territory.
Pontypool started the second period well and tested the Drovers’ defence but Llandovery held out until the 22nd minute when the visitors opened their account. Pooler won a lineout inside Llandovery’s 22. The ball reached replacement number eight Ieuan Jones, who took it at pace and made a powerful break to suck in the home defence. The ball was recycled and replacement flanker Scott Matthews dived over for a try near the posts. Outside-half Matthew Jarvis added the extras (14-7). Five minutes later Llandovery were in possession between their 22 and 10-metre line in midfield but the ball went loose. Pooler full-back Pat Lewis kicked ahead, gathered and crossed for a well-taken try in the left corner. Matthew Jarvis was so close with his conversion attempt but it went narrowly wide of the near post, so the home side held a two-point lead going into the final period (14-12).
It was all to play for in the last 30 minutes and for the first 22 minutes it was very even. However, with seven minutes to go, Pooler struck. They were on the attack inside Llandovery’s 22. Pat Lewis picked up the ball, saw a gap and weaved his way over for a try in the left corner, outstripping the Llandovery defence, to put his side ahead for the first time in the match. Pontypool’s new recruit Dai Langdon, who started the game at centre but then moved to outside half, slotted a fine conversion. Llandovery then threw everything at their visitors in the final minutes but the Pooler defence stood firm. Final score – Llandovery 14 Pontypool 19.
This was a confidence-boosting and well-deserved victory for Pontypool over their Premiership opponents in the heat, which was energy-sapping for all the players. Pooler started slowly but gradually forced their way back into the match and held on to record a notable success.
Pontypool’s final pre-season friendly will be on Thursday 25th August when they welcome Penallta RFC to Pontypool Park, kick-off 7.00pm. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
Llandovery starting XV: Jack Maynard, Callum Dodd, Rhodri Wall, Rhodri Jones, Adam Warren, Ioan Hughes, Lee Rees, Jamie Hughes, Garrod, Llyr Green, Jack Jones (captain), Griff Evans, Osian Davies, Stuart Worral and Sam Melmouth. Also played: Kian Abraham, Kristian Jones, Craig Woodall, Liam Smith, Dafydd Land, Joe Powell, Iestyn Thomas, Evan Sheldon, Tom Pritchard, Ricky Guest, Will Carron-Lewis, Matthew Swan, Dylan Jones, Lewys Walsh, Marco Dalavalle, Casey Williams, Ben Thomas, Lawrence Thomas, Gareth Thomas and Thomas Poole.
Pontypool starting XV: Pat Lewis, Mathew Powell, Duan Thomas, Dai Langdon, Amosa Nove, Matthew Jarvis, Dan Babos, Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths, Sam Scarfe, Peter Lloyd, Garin Price, Adam Brown, Callum Davies, Adam Stratton and Mike Herbert (captain). Also played: Kelvyn Williams, Sam Cochrane, Tom Piper, Luke Fleming-Jones, Scott Matthews, Ieuan Jones, Cameron Regan, Owain Leonard, Deon Smith, Marcus Jones, Joel Mahoney and Huw Anderson.