Try by Callum Phillips.
Conversion by Rhys Truelove.
Penalties by Rhys Truelove (3).
Tries by Deon Smith, Mathew Powell and Peter Lloyd.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Penalties by Matthew Jarvis (3).
It’s Pooler’s Cup – but only just!
In cup rugby it is all about winning and, despite Pontypool’s performance in this WRU National Championship Cup Final on Sunday afternoon not being one of their best, they managed to grind out the victory to overcome a dogged and determined Ystrad Rhondda side, writes Ray Ruddick.
Pontypool were quite fortunate to have beaten Ystrad Rhondda in the league meeting at Pontypool Park earlier this season with a late penalty try and this showpiece at the Principality Stadium showed what a difficult side Ystrad Rhondda is to play against and beat and they should be justifiably proud of their performance.
It was Pontypool that got the game underway attacking the south end of the ground on a sunny day in the capital. In the 4th minute Pooler were on the attack inside Ystrad’s 22 and a pass went astray. The ball was gathered by Ystrad and they broke out of defence. Eventually scrum half Callum Phillips received the scoring pass and ran 30 metres to score under the posts. Outside half Rhys Truelove converted to put the Rhondda men into an early lead (0-7). Ten minutes later Pooler opted for a scrum after Ystrad had been caught offside on their 5-metre line. And, after several drives towards the goal line Pooler captain and No 8 Scott Matthews drove over the goal line and dotted down to the left of the posts. However, the referee referred this to the Television Match Official and, after some deliberation, a try was not awarded but Ystrad centre Cole Morgan was shown the yellow card for foul play.
In the 22nd minute Ystrad were penalised near their posts. Pooler again opted for a scrum. The ball was released and play went right when full back Geraint Walsh fed centre Deon Smith who scored a try, 5 metres in from the right corner. Outside half Matthew Jarvis converted with a fine kick (7-7). Three minutes later Pooler hooker Peter Lloyd was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on close to Pontypool’s line. In the 27th minute Darren Hughes, the substitute hooker, came on as a temporary replacement for flanker Mike Herbert, as front row cover was required. Seven minutes later Pooler were on the attack deep in Ystrad territory. Play went right and right wing Mathew Powell used his power and strength and managed to score an unconverted try in the corner (12-7). In the 37th minute Pooler were penalised 30 metres from their goal line to the left of the posts and Rhys Truelove narrowed the gap to two points with a successful shot at goal. Half-time score – Pontypool 12 Ystrad Rhondda 10.
In the fourth minute of the second period Pooler centre Joel Mahoney made way for Dai Langdon. Four minutes later Ystrad were caught offside in front of their posts so up stepped Matthew Jarvis to slot his shot at goal (15-10). Immediately from the re-start Pooler were guilty of going off their feet, 30 metres from their goal line to the left of the posts and Rhys Truelove kicked the goal (15-13). Pooler then made two further changes with Wales Under 20 loose head prop Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths taking over from Kyan Best and flanker Callum Davies made way for Adam Brown who went into the second row and Ieuan Jones, who started there, went back to his usual position in the back row.
In the 54th minute Pooler were guilty of holding on in a similar position to the last penalty and, as with the last, Rhys Truelove scored three more points from the tee for the men from the Rhondda Valley to edge his side into a slender lead (15-16). Then Pontypool made another change with Owain Leonard taking over from Dai Jones at scrum half and, shortly after, tight head prop Kelvyn Williams made way for Tom Piper. In the 58th minute Ystrad were guilty of not rolling away near half way and Matthew Jarvis put in a great touch find, just 5 metres from Ystrad’s goal line. From the ensuing line-out and a powerful driving maul, Peter Lloyd powered over for a try to the right of the posts which Matthew Jarvis converted (22-16).
On the hour mark Pontypool left wing Amosa Nove was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, on Ystrad’s 10-metre line. Two minutes later Garin Price replaced Ieuan Jones. In the 66th minute Ystrad were penalised for a no arms tackle, 30 metres from their goal line and 20 metres in field on Pooler’s left. Matthew Jarvis was again accurate with another successful shot at goal (25-16). Peter Lloyd was then permanently replaced by Darren Hughes in the middle of the Pooler front row. With ten minutes remaining, Amosa Nove did not return from his sin-binning but was replaced by Duan Thomas instead. In the final minute of this compelling final, Ystrad were penalised 2 metres inside their half to the right of right of the posts and Matthew Jarvis went for goal, struck the ball sweetly and it went over the cross bar to seal a hard-fought victory for Pontypool. Final score – Pontypool 28 Ystrad Rhondda 16.
The man of the match was announced as Pooler’s inspirational leader and back rower Scott Matthews who was quite outstanding, and received the WRU National Championship Cup from Bryn Parker of the Welsh Rugby Union.
This was a severe test of Pontypool’s resolve as Ystrad Rhondda asked questions of them in all areas throughout the game and, thankfully for Pooler, they managed to hold on in such a tight battle, so well done to both sides on producing such an enthralling cup encounter and congratulations to Pontypool on winning the cup. Pooler’s next match is on Wednesday when Ystalyfera will be the welcome visitors to Pontypool Park for a re-arranged WRU Admiral National Championship match, kick-off 7.30pm. Then on Saturday Pooler make the long trip west to the Lewis Lloyd Ground to take on Narberth in another league encounter, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool: Geraint Walsh, Mathew Powell, Deon Smith, Joel Mahoney (replaced by Dai Langdon), Amosa Nove (replaced by Duan Thomas), Matthew Jarvis, Dai Jones (replaced by Owain Leonard), Kyan Best (replaced by Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths), Peter Lloyd (replaced by Darren Hughes), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Tom Piper), Ieuan Jones (replaced by Garin Price), Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert (temporary replaced by Darren Hughes), Callum Davies (replaced by Adam Brown) and Scott Matthews (captain).
Ystrad Rhondda: Josh Williams, Kurtis Williams Macauley Rowley, Cole Morgan, Alex Webber, Rhys Truelove, Callum Phillips, Tom Foulkes, Liam Wiggins (captain), Jordan Pritchard, Nathan Hughes, Garyn Davies, Mason Roderick, Jarrad Llewellyn and Kelly Jones. Replacements – Corben Evans, Callum Dawe, Morgan Burgess, Jay Harris, Cobi Green, Cavan Davies, Rhys Dauncey and Neil Jones.