Tries by Ilan Phillips, Fraser Jones and Lewys Gibby.
Conversions by Nick Gale (2).
Penalties by Nick Gale (2).
Drop Goal by Jonathan Rogers.
Tries by Scott Matthews (2), Mathew Powell, Ieuan Jones and a penalty try.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).
Penalty by Matthew Jarvis.
Pooler squeeze past Narberth in thriller down west
After the highs of last Sunday at the Principality Stadium in winning the Championship Cup, it was back to WRU Admiral National Championship action for Pontypool as they made the long trip west to Pembrokeshire and the delightful surroundings of the Lewis Lloyd Ground to take on Narberth, writes Ray Ruddick. Both sides contributed to an enthralling encounter with The Otters playing well as they made it very difficult for Pooler with their enterprising style. However, it was Pontypool who prevailed in a very close match and had to dig deep in the final minutes to secure the bonus-point win.
Pontypool kicked off attacking the clubhouse end of the ground on a lovely sunny day. In the 3rd minute Pooler were awarded a penalty deep inside Narberth’s half. They kicked for the left corner and, from the ensuing lineout and a powerful driving maul, captain and flanker Scott Matthews scored a try, 15 metres in from the corner. The conversion attempt failed (0-5). Eleven minutes later Narberth’s outside half Jonathan Rogers dropped a goal from 40 metres to open The Otters’ account (3-5). In the 17th minute Narberth secured turnover ball on Pooler’s 22. Play went right and home centre Ilan Phillips crossed for a try to the right of the posts. Full back Nick Gale converted to put the home side in the lead (10-5). Half way through the first period Narberth were on the attack putting width on the ball and wing Fraser Jones, who was making his debut, crossed for a try in the right corner. The conversion narrowly failed but the home side had a ten-point lead (15-5).
In the 24th minute Narberth’s second row Rhys Williams was shown the yellow card for a high tackle on Pooler’s left wing Deon Smith, in front of his posts. Four minutes later Pooler asked questions of the Otters’ defence and eventually the ball reached Scott Matthews who scored his second try of the match from close range, 15 metres in from the right corner. Matthew Jarvis added the extras (15-12). With six minutes remaining in the first half, great handling by Pooler’s forwards and backs resulted in a try by right wing Mathew Powell, ten metres in from the left corner. Matthew Jarvis converted with a fine kick and Pontypool re-took the lead (15-19). In the 38th minute Pontypool were penalised, for the first time in the game, on their 10-metre line in midfield and Nick Gale slotted the kick at goal to make it a one point game (18-19). Then, in injury time, the visitors were penalised again, this time near their goal line on Narberth’s left, but the attempt at goal went wide, so Pontypool went into the interval with a slender lead. Half time score – Narberth 18 Pontypool 19.
The early exchanges in the second half were fairly even then, in the 50th minute, Mathew Powell was sin-binned for a high tackle near the half way line. Four minutes later Scott Matthews was replaced by Mike Herbert in the back row and Garin Price took over from Ashley Sweet in the second row for the visitors. In the 57th minute Narberth took the lead again with a try under the posts by scrum half Lewys Gibby, converted by Nick Gale (25-19). Loose head prop Sam Cochrane, on his return from injury, made way for Kyan Best for Pontypool.
In the 64th minute Narberth’s defence was under pressure and, after several penalties conceded by the home side, the referee awarded a penalty try, which was the bonus-point try, and put Pontypool into the lead again (25-26). Pooler made another change with Darren Hughes replacing tight head prop Kelvyn Williams in the front row, with Peter Lloyd moving from hooker to prop and Hughes to his usual position at hooker. On 65 minutes Pooler were caught offside in midfield, 40 metres out and Nick Gale re-gained the lead for The Otters with another three points from his trusty left boot (28-26). In the 70th minute play was inside Narberth’s 22 and, after several drives towards the home goal line, No 8 Ieuan Jones powered over for a try 5 metres in from the right corner. Matthew Jarvis converted with a great kick so Pooler went back into the lead (28-33). Owain Leonard then took over at scrum half from Morgan Lloyd for Pontypool.
In the 74th minute Ieuan Jones was replaced by the returning Scott Matthews and five minutes later Ashley Sweet also returned to the field in place of his second row partner Lance Randall. In the second minute of time added on Peter Lloyd came off and Kelvyn Williams went back on in a straight swap for Pooler. Then in the 83rd minute Narberth were penalised at a scrum, 30 metres out to the left of the posts and Matthew Jarvis kicked the goal that put the seal on a hard-fought victory. Final score – Narberth 28 Pontypool 36.
Narberth were outstanding and played some good rugby. They deserved something from the game but just missed out on league points. Pontypool’s discipline was much better with only two penalties conceded in the first half and four in the second. This was another match where Pooler were tested throughout the 80 minutes and, once again, proved they can get over the winning line in tight and tense contests, so congratulations to both sides on producing such an enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment. Pontypool’s next game is on Wednesday when they welcome Bedwas to Pontypool Park for a 7.30pm kick-off. Pooler’s final home match of the season will be on Saturday when Beddau will be the visitors, kick-off 2.30pm.
Narberth: Nick Gale, Fraser Jones, Josh Davies, Ilan Phillips, Josh Evans, Jonathan Rogers, Lewys Gibby, Lewis Davies, Kyle Hamer, Tom Slater, Rhys Williams, Tom Powell (captain), Finley Evans, Caine Rees-Jones and Rich Rees. Replacements (all played) – Tom Clark, George Rossiter, Josh Hamer, Ianto Griffiths and Ben Thomas.
Pontypool: Geraint Walsh, Mathew Powell, Duan Thomas, Dai Langdon, Deon Smith, Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Owain Leonard), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Kyan Best), Peter Lloyd (replaced by the returning Kelvyn Williams), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Darren Hughes), Lance Randall (replaced by the returning Ashley Sweet), Ashley Sweet (replaced by Garin Price), Scott Matthews (captain, replaced by Mike Herbert), Adam Stratton and Ieuan Jones (replaced by the returning Scott Matthews).