Tries by Wade Langley and David Evans.
Conversions by Steffan Jones (2).
Tries by Deon Smith, Ashley Sweet, Sam Scarfe and Joel Mahoney.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).
Pooler’s impressive bonus-point win over battling Bargoed
Pontypool staged a second half comeback to secure all five points in a very tough tussle with battling Bargoed at Bargoed Park in this WRU Admiral National Championship match, writes Ray Ruddick. Once again Pooler were slow out of the starting blocks and Bargoed took a deserved 14-0 lead inside the first quarter-of-an-hour but an impressive second half showing gave the visitors a well-earned victory.
Bargoed kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground on a fine, dry and pleasant early spring afternoon. Bargoed were playing with the breeze in the first half and made a strong start, dominating territory and possession. In the eighth minute pressure eventually told on the Pooler defence when, following a scrum penalty to the home side, they decided to kick for the right corner and, from the resulting driving maul, hooker Wade Langley opened the scoring with a try to the right of the posts, which was converted by centre Steffan Jones (7-0). Six minutes later play was near Pooler’s 22 on Bargoed’s left with the referee playing advantage for the home side. Steffan Jones put in a diagonal kick towards the right corner and right wing David Evans managed to jump and gather the ball to score a try in the right corner. Steffan Jones added the extras to put Bargoed 14 points clear of their opponents. Then Bargoed made a change with Aaron Elliott replacing captain and loose head prop Kieron Brown.
In the 28th minute Pooler hit back with a try by centre Deon Smith. After a patient build-up along the left flank, the ball was released and play went right. Right wing Mathew Powell made a break inside Bargoed’s 22 and Smith finished off in the right corner. Outside half Matthew Jarvis was narrowly wide with the conversion attempt. There was no further score in this tense first half with Bargoed going into the break nine points to the good. Half-time score – Bargoed 14 Pontypool 5.
In the fifth minute of the second period, Geraint Walsh, Sam Scarfe and Ieuan Jones replaced full back Dai Langdon, hooker Peter Lloyd and second row Garin Price respectively for Pontypool. Then the home side made a couple of changes when Matthew Lewis took over from centre Oli Andrews and left wing Adam Jones made way for Duane Dyer. In the 56th minute Pooler were awarded a penalty and elected to kick for the right corner. From the ensuing driving lineout, veteran second row Ashley Sweet claimed a try, 15 metres in from the right corner which Matthew Jarvis converted, despite slipping (14-12). Three more replacements were made – debutant Morgan Lloyd took over from scrum half Owain Leonard for the visitors and Lewys Lippiett came on for Wade Langley and Corrie Thomas replaced Lewis Johnson for Bargoed.
Just after the hour mark, Deon Smith took a knock to the shoulder and was replaced by the returning Dai Langdon. In the 64th minute Pooler were asking questions of the home defence with some powerful forward drives and, eventually Wales Under 20 hooker Sam Scarfe barged over for a try under the posts. Matthew Jarvis slotted the easy conversion and Pontypool were ahead for the first time in the game (14-19). In the 70th minute Pooler captain and No 8 Scott Matthews was yellow-carded when play was near Pooler’s goal line. Bargoed looked as if they were going to level matters, or even re-take the lead, particularly with a man advantage, but Pooler dug deep and their defence held firm. Two minutes later Sam Scarfe took a blow to the shoulder and he was replaced by the returning Peter Lloyd.
In the 77th minute Pontypool were awarded a free kick inside Bargoed’s 22 to the right of the posts and opted for a scrum. Dai Langdon was in the first receiver position and he offloaded to Joel Mahoney who took the ball at pace and on an angle, and the centre crossed for the bonus-point try near the posts. Once again Matthew Jarvis made no mistake with the conversion, his 100th conversion and 256 points in the 20 league and cup games he has appeared in this season (14-26). Mahoney seemed to injure himself in scoring the try so he left the field and Deon Smith returned. Two very late changes saw Wade Langley return to the field in place of flanker Callum Meyrick for the home side and Lewis Price-Jones made his debut for Pooler when he replaced tight head prop Kelvyn Williams. Pontypool closed the game out in the final few minutes to record their third victory over Bargoed this season. Final score – Bargoed 14 Pontypool 26.
After a slow start, Pontypool seemed to go through the gears in the second period and were full value for their victory. It was always going to be a very difficult game as Bargoed are a quality outfit and they gave Pooler a hard battle but the visitors finished the stronger. This win puts Pooler five points ahead of second placed Neath with a game in hand, and 16 points ahead of Bargoed in third having played the same number of games (18 each). The next outing for Pontypool is the WRU National Championship Cup Final against Ystrad Rhondda at the Principality Stadium on Sunday next, kick-off 3.15pm. Before Pooler’s game is the WRU Division One Cup Final between Newbridge and Nant Conwy of North Wales (kick-off 1.00pm) and the WRU Premiership Cup Final, when Newport take on old rivals Cardiff, rounds off Finals Day with kick-off at 5.35pm. So it promises to be a great day out at the home of Welsh rugby to follow the fortunes of the three Gwent clubs in their respective finals. The next WRU Admiral National Championship match for Pontypool will be on Wednesday 26 April when Ystalyfera will be the welcome visitors to Pontypool Park in a re-arranged game, kick-off 7.30pm.
Bargoed: Dylan Williams, David Evans, Oli Andrews (replaced by Matthew Lewis), Steffan Jones, Adam Jones (replaced by Duane Dyer), Josh Prosser, James Leadbeater, Kieron Brown (captain, replaced by Aaron Elliott), Wade Langley (replaced by Lewys Lippiett), Keegan Bale, James Locke, Owain Cooper, Lewis Johnson (replaced by Corrie Thomas), Callum Meyrick (replaced by the returning Wade Langley) and Tom Rice.
Pontypool: Dai Langdon (replaced by Geraint Walsh), Mathew Powell, Deon Smith (replaced by the returning Dai Langdon), Joel Mahoney (replaced by the returning Deon Smith), Amosa Nove, Matthew Jarvis, Owain Leonard (replaced by Morgan Lloyd), Kyan Best, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Sam Scarfe, then Scarfe was replaced by the returning Lloyd), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Lewis Price-Jones), Garin Price (replaced by Ieuan Jones), Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert, Callum Davies and Scott Matthews (captain).