Tries by Rhys Thomas and a penalty try.
Conversion by Steffan Jones.
Penalties by Steffan Jones (3).
Tries by Callum Davies, Huw Anderson, Peter Lloyd and Scott Matthews
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).
Penalty by Matthew Jarvis.
Pooler knock out Bargoed in close Cup clash
Pontypool had a tough draw in the quarter-final of the WRU Championship Cup when they took on Bargoed at Bargoed Park in front of a sizeable crowd on a fine and pleasant winter’s afternoon, and came away with a deserved victory, writes Ray Ruddick. This was Pooler’s first win in their last four matches at Bargoed.
Pontypool kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground on a very heavy pitch that had seen plenty of rain and frost over the past couple of weeks or so. The early exchanges were fairly even then after a quarter-of-an-hour Pooler flanker and captain Mike Herbert was shown the yellow card for a dangerous tackle between half-way and Pontypool’s 10-metre line. Three minutes later Bargoed capitalised on the extra player when full back Rhys Thomas opened the scoring with a try to the left of the posts, converted by outside half Steffan Jones (7-0). In the 25th minute Bargoed put in a cross kick towards the left corner. Pooler full back Huw Anderson jumped for the ball but was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was sin-binned, and the referee awarded the home side a penalty try (14-0).
In the 35th minute Pontypool had a scrum feed near the Bargoed line and, after a driving maul, flanker Callum Davies was credited with a try, buried at the bottom of a pile of bodies. Matthew Jarvis added two points from the tee. Bargoed’s scrum half James Leadbeater, had transgressed in the scoring of the try and was yellow-carded with Pooler re-starting with a penalty on half-way (14-7). In the first minute of injury time at the end of the first period Pooler had a scrum on Bargoed’s 22 slightly to the left of the posts. The visiting eight drove their opponents back and the referee played a Pooler advantage when play went right. Huw Anderson came into the line and crossed for a try 10 metres in from the corner. Matthew Jarvis slotted a fine conversion to bring the scores level (14-14). Four minutes later and on the stroke of half-time, Pontypool were caught offside at a maul on their 10-metre line near Bargoed’s left touchline and Steffan Jones kicked a fine penalty to make the half-time score Bargoed 17 Pontypool 14.
In the first minute of the second half Pooler again strayed offside on their 22 to the left of the posts and Steffan Jones extended the home side’s lead with another successful shot at goal (20-14). Three minutes later Pooler went offside again 10 metres in on Bargoed’s left between half-way and Pooler’s 10-metre line but the attempt at goal fell short. In the 52nd minute Bargoed were penalised 35 metres from their goal line and 15 metres in on Pooler’s left. However the home side back-chatted the referee and were marched back 10 metres. Matthew Jarvis stepped up and kicked the penalty to reduce the deficit to three points (20-17). Three minutes later Pooler made four changes with Pat Lewis, Sam Cochrane, Adam Stratton and Scott Matthews replacing wing Mathew Powell, loose head prop Kyan Best, second row Garin Price and No 8 Ieuan Jones respectively. In the 59th minute Pontypool were penalised at a ruck in midfield near their 10-metre line but the shot at the posts went wide of the right upright.
On the hour mark Owain Leonard took over from visiting scrum half Dai Jones and two minutes later centre Deon Smith took a blow to the shoulder and he was replaced by the returning Mathew Powell. In the 72nd minute and after the visitors had put their hosts under pressure with several drives towards the home line, hooker Peter Lloyd managed to get the ball down over the line for a try, his first for the club, 15 metres in from the left corner. Matthew Jarvis converted to put Pooler in front for the first time in this absorbing cup tie (20-24). Then with about five minutes remaining, Pooler were awarded a penalty in a kickable position but kicked for the left corner, backing themselves to get a try to take them two scores in front against a tiring Bargoed pack. Pooler secured possession from the ensuing line-out and, after a few forward thrusts towards the home line, Scott Matthews scored that all-important try, 15 metres in from the corner. Matthew Jarvis’ conversion attempt went wide (20-29). Pontypool made their final change of the afternoon when Huw Anderson was replaced by Dai Langdon. With a couple of minutes left Pontypool conceded a penalty in midfield, 30 metres from their goal line and Steffan Jones kicked his third penalty of the game to make it an interesting finish. However, Pontypool held on to take the contest. Final score – Bargoed 23 Pontypool 29.
Pontypool’s discipline is still a cause for concern as they conceded too many penalties which kept Bargoed in the game. This needs addressing in training as ill-discipline makes it harder to win and could be costly. Having said that Pooler’s defence was sound and they look the stronger side in the final quarter. Pontypool seemed to have confidence in their ability to get over the winning line so well done Pooler on a well-earned triumph as it is always very difficult to win at Bargoed. Pontypool now progress to the semi-finals when they will face another tough side in Neath on Saturday 25 March at a venue to be decided. Pooler’s next match is the re-arranged WRU Admiral National Championship game against Narberth at Pontypool Park on Saturday 11 February with an earlier than usual kick-off of 1.30pm, as the Scotland v Wales game kicks off at 4.45pm.
Bargoed: Rhys Thomas, Dai Evans, Ashley Norton, Steffan Jones, Dylan Williams, Josh Prosser, James Leadbeater, Kieron Brown (captain), Lewys Lippiett, Keeqan Bale, Owain Cooper, Louis Blacker, Lewis Johnson, Keaton Davies and Tom Rice. Replacements – Alex Gardner-Key, Wade Langley, Aaron Elliott, Geraint Edmunds, Callum Meyrick, Corrie Thomas, Matthew Lewis and Duane Dyer.
Pontypool: Huw Anderson (replaced by Dai Langdon), Ewan Rosser, Deon Smith (replaced by the returning Mathew Powell), Joel Mahoney, Mathew Powell (replaced by Pat Lewis), Matthew Jarvis, Dai Jones (replaced by Owain Leonard), Kyan Best (replaced by Sam Cochrane), Peter Lloyd, Kelvyn Williams, Garin Price (replaced by Adam Stratton), Adam Brown, Mike Herbert (captain), Callum Davies and Ieuan Jones (replaced by Scott Matthews).