Penalty by Owen Howe.
Tries by Dan Babos (2), Patric Lewis, Sam Scarfe, Sam Cochrane, Deon Smith, Garin Price and Joel Mahoney.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (5).
Pooler start with a bang in the Llynfi Valley
Pontypool made a great start to this season’s campaign in the WRU Admiral National Championship with a thumping eight-try victory over Maesteg Harlequins in the rain at breezy South Parade Playing Fields, writes Ray Ruddick.
Pontypool kicked off playing towards the changing rooms end of the ground and the early exchanges were fairly even. However, in the 14th minute the visitors opened the scoring with a try by centre Patric Lewis, who had found space and dotted down wide out on the left after Pooler had put the home defence under pressure. The conversion attempt hit the upright (0-5). Three minutes later Pontypool had a throw in on their left near Quins’ 22 and a pre-plan move. Hooker Sam Scarfe threw short to second-row Adam Brown, who then immediately passed back to Scarfe in the five-metre channel for the youngster to score a try in the left corner, beating a couple of defenders in the process. Outside-half Matthew Jarvis slotted a fine conversion (0-12).
In the 22nd minute play was near the Quins line and, after several drives, Pooler released the ball and play went right. The ball was then recycled and scrum-half Owain Leonard gave the scoring pass to loose-head prop Sam Cochrane, who barged over for a try 10 metres in from the right corner. The conversion attempt failed (0-17). Maesteg Harlequins then started to ask questions of the Pontypool defence and they were awarded several penalties on the trot towards the end of the first half. In the 38th minute the referee had ran out of patience and when Amosa Nove transgressed inside the visitors’ 22, the right wing was shown the yellow card. Half time score – Maesteg Harlequins 0 Pontypool 17.
Quins started the second period well and in the 42nd minute Pontypool were penalised in midfield 35 metres out, with full-back Owen Howe registering his side’s only points of the game with a successful shot at goal (3-17). Six minutes later Pontypool were on the attack on their right, the ball was recycled and play went left. Amosa Nove received the ball off his wing and put in his fellow winger Deon Smith for an unconverted, bonus-point try close to the left corner flag (3-22). Pontypool then made two replacements with Owain Leonard making way for Dan Babos and tight-head prop Kelvyn Williams was replaced by Tom Piper. Another replacement was made in the 56th minute when Garin Price took over from Adam Brown. On the hour mark a good break by Pooler’s veteran second row and captain-for-the-day Ashley Sweet took play to near the home 22. Ieuan Jones took the ball on the charge, penetrated the Quins’ defence and the number eight then put Dan Babos over for a try near the left corner. Matthew Jarvis added the extras with another impressive conversion (3-29). In the 63rd minute Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths came on for Sam Cochrane in the Pooler front row. Three minutes later Marcus Jones took over from Deon Smith and Sam Scarfe left the field with Kelvyn Williams returning and Tom Piper moving to hooker for Pontypool.
With ten minutes to go, play was in the Quins’ half and from a charge down, Pooler gathered and Garin Price sprinted 35 metres for a try 20 metres in from the left corner, but unfortunately injured himself in the process so Adam Brown returned to the field. Matthew Jarvis kicked the conversion (3-36). In the 77th minute Pontypool exerted more pressure on the home defence near their line and when the ball was released, it reached centre Joel Mahoney who crossed for a try 15 metres in from the left corner. Matthew Jarvis converted (3-43). Then with the last play of the game, Ieuan Jones took a quick-tap penalty inside Maesteg Harlequins’ 22 and offloaded to Dan Babos who scampered over to the right of the posts for his second five-pointer of the afternoon. Matthew Jarvis slotted his fifth conversion. Final score – Maesteg Harlequins 3 Pontypool 50.
The rain did not dampen Pontypool’s quest as this was an encouraging performance. They had a solid and organised defence, which was tested several times and some good tries were scored. This should give the players confidence going into their next match, against Ystalyfera RFV at Pontypool Park on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.
Maesteg Harlequins: Owen Howe; Lloyd Freeman, Brandon Huntley, Lee Ronan, Alex Griffiths; Simon Evans, Jakob Williams; Gavin Burridge, Jay Ronan, Dean Ronan, Nathan Smith, Stephen Williams (captain), Lewis Tutt, Jack Goodridge and Andrew Healy. Replacements: Rhys Haines, Travis Huntley, Morgan Williams, Morgan Jones and Geraint Evans.
Pontypool: Huw Anderson, Amosa Nove, Patric Lewis, Joel Mahoney, Deon Smith (replaced by Marcus Jones), Matthew Jarvis, Owain Leonard (replaced by Dan Babos), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths), Sam Scarfe (replaced by the returning Kelvyn Williams), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Tom Piper), Adam Brown (replaced by Garin Price, who was then replaced by the retuning Adam Brown), Ashley Sweet (captain), Cameron Regan, Callum Davies and Ieuan Jones.