Scott Matthews (2), Ieuan Jones (2), Mathew Powell, Adam Brown, Mike Herbert, Dai Langdon, Huw Anderson and Joel Mahoney.
Conversions by Dai Langdon (6).
Pooler rack up ten tries in the pouring rain at Margam
Pontypool travelled west to take on Tata Steel at a very wet Margam Sports Ground under floodlights on Friday evening in a re-arranged WRU Admiral National Championship match, and came away with a thumping victory, writes Ray Ruddick. Rain fell throughout the game which made the playing conditions very difficult, so well done to all the players and the referee for their efforts in testing circumstances.
Tata kicked off attacking the cricket pitch end of the ground. In the third minute Pooler were on the attack inside the home 22 and right wing Mathew Powell scored the opening try, 10 metres in from the right corner. Outside half Dai Langdon slotted the conversion (0-7). Twelve minutes later Pooler scored again through second row Adam Brown wide out on the left, following a powerful driving maul. Dai Langdon added the extras with a great kick (0-14).
Half way through the first half Pontypool were awarded a penalty inside the Saints’ half and kicked for the left corner. From the ensuing lineout, Pooler’s potent weapon, the driving maul, resulted in a try for flanker Mike Herbert in a similar place to where the previous try was scored. This score was converted by Dai Langdon with another superb kick (0-21). Five minutes later Pooler were again inside Tata’s 22 and the visitors’ bonus-point try was scored by captain and number eight Scott Matthews with a touchdown near the posts. Dai Langdon once again obliged from the tee ((0-28). Just before half time Scott Matthews added his second five-pointer when the ball went loose from a scrum inside the home 22, he gathered and crossed the goal line, 10 metres in on the right. Dai Langdon converted to make it five out of five from the left boot of the outside half. Half time score – Tata Steel 0 Pontypool 35.
Seven minutes into the second period Pooler were on the attack, the ball was released and play went right for Dai Langdon to cross for an unconverted try in the right corner, which was Pontypool’s 100th league try of the season (0-40). Pooler then made some changes as centre Deon Smith was replaced by Amosa Nove, Aneurin Jenkins took over from hooker Peter Lloyd and flanker Callum Davies made way for Ieuan Jones. In the 54th minute the visitors made another change with Sam Cochrane replacing tight head prop Kelvyn Williams with Kyan Best, who started at loose head, went on the tight and Sam Cochrane to his accustomed position of loose head.
On the hour Pontypool stole a lineout inside Tata’s 22 and Mike Herbert made good ground for Ieuan Jones to pick up and score 10 metres in from the left corner. The conversion failed (0-45). Three minutes later play was inside Tata’s half on Pooler’s right and the visitors moved the ball left and left wing Huw Anderson squeezed over in the corner. The conversion attempt fell just short ((0-50). Then, in the 69th minute, Pontypool had a lineout inside the home 22. The ball went long and Ieuan Jones took it on the charge to crash over near the posts for a try. Dai Langdon converted (-0-57)
With ten minutes to go, Pontypool scrum half Owain Leonard was replaced by the club’s strength and conditioning coach, Gareth Betts, to make his 50th appearance, 14 years and 318 days after making his 49th – a club record for the longest time between appearances. He made his Pooler debut over 25 years ago – on 16 August 1997 at Merthyr and played in just three matches that season. He left the club but returned for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. He played in the last match of the successful 2007-08 campaign, and his 49th appearance in total, against Rumney at Pontypool Park on 3 May 2008, the season when Pontypool were crowned WRU League Division One East champions and Ben Francis Cup winners.
In the 74th minute Pooler scored their tenth and final try of the evening when centre Joel Mahoney took the ball at pace, backed himself, and sprinted 30 metres to score in the left corner. The conversion attempt went wide. Final score – Tata Steel 0 Pontypool 62.
All in all, this was a satisfying performance by Pontypool. Their discipline was much better than of late, giving away fewer penalties and the defence was solid. Credit must also go to Tata Steel for their committed performance in what has been a very difficult season for them. Pontypool’s next game is the return league match with Tata Steel at Pontypool Park on Saturday 25 March, kick-off 2.30pm. The following Saturday 1 April, is the Championship Cup semi-final clash with Neath at Ciner Glass Community Stadium, Ebbw Vale (Eugene Cross Park), again the kick-off will be at 2.30pm.
Tata Steel: Ethan White, Mike Baron, Sam Devonald, Ollie Wong, Josh Powell, Cam Bamford, Taran Jones, Andrew Deabreu, Jae Key, Ryan Davies, Joe Clarke, Joel Cockings, Ieuan Roberts, Ryan John and Miles Olding. Replacements – Dan Kemp, Lee Britton, Harry Gunter, Jake Whitfield and Tom Jenkins.
Pontypool: Geraint Walsh, Mathew Powell, Deon Smith (replaced by Amosa Nove), Joel Mahoney, Huw Anderson, Dai Langdon, Owain Leonard (replaced by Gareth Betts), Kyan Best, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Aneurin Jenkins), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Sam Cochrane), Garin Price, Adam Brown, Mike Herbert, Callum Davies (replaced by Ieuan Jones) and Scott Matthews (captain).