Pontypool scorers: Tries by Scott Matthews (2), Ieuan Jones and a penalty try.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).
Tries by Cole Morgan (2) and Macauley Rowley.
Conversions by Rhys Truelove (2).
Penalties by Rhys Truelove (2).
Pooler get out of jail in dramatic finish
Pontypool welcomed Ystrad Rhondda to colourful Pontypool Park for this WRU Admiral National Championship match on a damp autumn afternoon, writes Ray Ruddick. The visitors played some good rugby at times, but it was Pooler who took the spoils and five league points in the nail-biting final few minutes.
Pontypool kicked off attacking the bandstand end of the ground. Pooler had the better of the opening exchanges and, in the 14th minute, the home side opted for a scrum near Ystrad’s goal line following a penalty. Pooler No 8 Ieuan Jones, who was making his 50th league and cup appearance for the club, picked up from the base and powered over for a try to the left of the posts. Outside half Matthew Jarvis converted (7-0). Four minutes later Ystrad Rhondda left wing Alex Webber ran out of defence from inside their 22, beating several defenders, and this great break led to his side’s first try of the afternoon, scored by centre Macauley Rowley, 10 metres in from the right corner. The conversion attempt went wide (7-5).
In the 33rd minute Pooler were caught offside, 25 metres from their goal line and 15 metres in on the visitors’ right. Outside half Rhys Truelove stepped up and put his side into the lead with a successful shot at goal (7-8). Ystrad Rhondda were playing well and in the 40th minute extended their advantage with a well-taken try by centre Cole Morgan, converted by Rhys Truelove to make the score Pontypool 7 Ystrad Rhondda 15 at the interval.
At the start of the second period, Pooler made four changes with wing Dylan Lewis making way for Deon Smith, Owain Leonard came on for Dan Babos at scrum half, Tom Piper replaced Peter Lloyd at tight head prop and Cameron Regan took over from Ieuan Jones. With only one minute played in the second half, Ystrad Rhondda counter-attacked and scored a try in the right corner by Cole Morgan, his second of the afternoon, converted by Rhys Truelove (7-22). Four minutes later visiting second row Garyn Davies was yellow-carded for an offence at a maul near his goal line. Pontypool kicked for the right corner and, from the ensuing lineout and drive, flanker and captain Scott Matthews scored a try, 15 metres in from the corner. Matthew Jarvis added the extras (14-22).
In the 49th minute Pooler were guilty of side entry at a maul 30 metres from their goal line and 15 metres in on Ystrad’s left. Rhys Truelove kicked the penalty to extend the Rhondda boys’ lead to eleven points (14-25). Just before the hour mark, Kyan Best replaced Sam Cochrane at loose head prop for the home side. Pontypool were getting frustrated as they made several unforced errors and the game seemed to be slipping away from them. But then, in the 73rd minute Pooler were on the attack, putting their opponents under pressure inside Ystrad’s 22 and Scott Matthews dived for the line and managed to get the ball down for his second try, 15 metres in from the right corner, converted by Matthew Jarvis and visiting full back Josh Williams was sin-binned (21-25).
Time was running out for Pontypool and they made a concerted effort to get back down the field in the search for the winning score. In the 79th minute were asking questions of Ystrad Rhondda’s defence with several powerful drives towards the visitors’ goal line. However, a driving maul when down close to the line, the referee ran between the posts and awarded Pontypool a penalty try (28-25). Ystrad’s Cole Morgan, who had a brace of tries to his name, was shown a red card for verbally abusing the referee. In the very tense final few minutes, Pooler managed to hang on for a fortuitous victory. Final score – Pontypool 28 Ystrad Rhondda 25.
Pontypool could have had no complaints had Ystrad Rhondda won as the visitors were dogged and determined, and arguably the better side. It was a disjointed performance by Pooler but they managed to get that all-important win in the end so well done to them. However, they need to iron out their mistakes and put in an improved performance in the next league game next Saturday when they travel to the capital and to the Memorial Ground in Ely to take on Glamorgan Wanderers, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool: Huw Anderson, Mathew Powell, Pat Lewis, Dai Langdon, Dylan Lewis (replaced by Deon Smith), Matthew Jarvis, Dan Babos (replaced by Owain Leonard), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Kyan Best), Aneurin Jenkins, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Tom Piper), Garin Price, Adam Brown, Scott Matthews (captain), Mike Herbert and Ieuan Jones (replaced by Cameron Regan).
Ystrad Rhondda: Josh Williams, Kurtis Williams, Macauley Rowley, Cole Morgan, Alex Webber, Rhys Truelove, Callum Phillips, Tom Foulkes, Liam Wiggins (captain), David Webb, Nathan Hughes, Garyn Davies, Mason Rodrick, Michael Smallman and Kelly Jones. Replacements: Corben Evans, Callum Dawe, Morgan Burges, Jai Harris and Jacob Symes.