Tries by Lloyd Lewis (2), Joe Westwood (2), Thomas Davis and Ben Roach.
Conversions by Matt O’Brien (4).
Tries by Ewan Rosser, Joel Mahoney and Sam Cochrane.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).
Penalties by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Newport’s experience wins the day in superb Gwent derby
For Pontypool’s first top flight game in over 11 years, they travelled the short distance to Rodney Parade to take on local and historic rivals Newport in the Indigo Premiership, writes Ray Ruddick. It had been 4,159 days since the clubs last met which was at Pontypool Park on 14 April 2012, when Pontypool secured a 27-17 win. However this game, which was a late Sunday afternoon kick-off as it was televised live on S4C, was a great advert for the Premiership as both sides tried to play open, expansive rugby and, to a player, they gave their all, with Newport deserving of victory due to their Premiership experience.
Before kick-off there was a moment to reflect on the life and career of former Newport great Dai Watkins, who had passed away earlier that day at the age of 81. Dai was one of the most talented players in both rugby union and rugby league and gained the highest honours in both codes. He was a hugely gifted player and was fondly remembered at Rodney Parade, a ground he graced on many occasions.
Newport kicked off attacking the changing rooms end of the ground on a warm and sunny afternoon. After three minutes, play was near half way with Pooler in possession but a pass was intercepted by Newport’s right wing Lloyd Lewis who raced away for a try in the right corner. The conversion attempt failed (5-0). Six minutes later the Black-and-Ambers were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck just inside their 22 in front of the posts. Pooler’s outside half Matthew Jarvis slotted the shot at goal (5-3). In the 11th minute Pooler were in possession in midfield near the home 10-metre line when visiting scrum half Morgan Lloyd put in a high kick which right wing Ewan Rosser chased, gathered the ball and scored a try in the right corner. Matthew Jarvis added the extras with a fine kick (5-10).
After 14 minutes Newport had a throw in on their left, on Pooler’s 10-metre line. The ball was given some air, went across the home back line and created the overlap for Lloyd Lewis to score his brace in the corner. The conversion was nailed by centre Matt O’Brien with a great kick (12-10). Midway through the first period Pooler scrum half Morgan Lloyd took a quick tap penalty just outside Newport’s 22 and was tackled just short of the home goal line. However, he managed to offload to the supporting Joel Mahoney for the centre to dive over for a try near the posts. Matthew Jarvis converted (12-17).
In the 29th minute the home side were caught offside near their 22 in front of the uprights and Matthew Jarvis increased Pooler’s advantage with a successful shot at goal (12-20). Then three minutes later, Newport kicked for the left corner following a penalty and from the ensuing driving lineout loose head prop Thomas Davis scored a try 10 metres in from the left corner. Matt O’Brien converted (19-20). In the 37th minute the home side were testing Pooler’s defence and the pressure told when, after several drives towards the goal line, No 8 and captain Ben Roach barged over for the bonus-point try near the posts. Matt O’Brien converted (26-20). Pooler No 8 Ieuan Jones took a knock while defending Ben Roach’s score and he was replaced by Scott Matthews. Just before the break Newport were on the attack again inside Pooler’s 22 following a penalty at a scrum on half way. Matt O’Brien cross-kicked to the left corner, the ball was recycled and Wales Under 20 centre Joe Westwood squeezed over for a try in the left corner and one again, superbly converted by Matt O’Brien. Half time score – Newport 33 Pontypool 20.
At half time, Pooler changed both props with Sam Cochrane taking over from Kyan Best at loose head and Kelvyn Williams made way for Ollie Drake on the tight. Ten minutes into the second half and Will Griffiths replaced Wales Under 20 hooker Sam Scarfe in the middle of the Pooler front row. Five minutes later Newport’s flanker Rhys Jenkins was yellow-carded for being offside near the home goal line. In the 57th minute Pooler were asking questions of the Black-and-Amber defence when Sam Cochrane took the ball on the charge and powered over for a try, 5 metres in from the left corner. Matthew Jarvis converted with another fine kick to bring the scores to within a converted try, so it was all to play for in the final quarter (33-27).
In the 67th minute Pooler second row Lance Randall was replaced by Lewis Johnson. A minute later Pooler were penalised for side entry at a maul. Newport kicked for the left corner and from the ensuing lineout, Joe Westwood managed to get the ball down over the line, 10 metres in from the left corner. The conversion attempt failed (38-27). In the 71st minute Pooler made further changes – Matthew Jarvis was replaced by Josh Malson and Amosa Nove took over from Huw Anderson on the left wing, then the impressive and man-of-the-match Morgan Lloyd made way for Owain Leonard two minutes later. In the 76th minute Rhys Jenkins was shown a second yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck just outside Newport’s 22 in midfield, which became a red. Pooler tried hard to get a fourth try towards the end but Newport’s defence kept them out. Final score – Newport 38 Pontypool 27.
Despite going down to defeat against a street-wise Newport side, Pooler can take positives from the game. They challenged right up to the final whistle and probably deserved a point or two from the match but it wasn’t to be. Pooler’s set pieces need addressing and they did not have quite the cutting edge behind. There is work to do in other areas but they can be proud of their efforts. Well done to every player who took the field as it was an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable encounter, in front of a large, passionate crowd and played in the right spirit which was worthy of the television coverage. Pontypool’s next game in the Indigo Premiership is on Saturday when they welcome Swansea to Pontypool Park, kick-off 2.30pm.
Newport: Ioan Davies, Lloyd Lewis (replaced by Iestyn Galton), Joe Westwood, Matt O’Brien, Elliot Frewen, Carwyn Penny (replaced by Jacob Lloyd), Dafydd Buckland (replaced by Che Hope), Thomas Davis (replaced by Aaron Dowse), Henry Palmer (replaced by Tyler Olding), Nathan Evans (replaced by Garin Harris), Elliott Ferriman, Barny Langton-Cryer (replaced by Jon Verrier), Rhys Jenkins, Josh Reid (replaced by Kyle Tayler) and Ben Roach (captain).
Pontypool: Matty Bancroft, Ewan Rosser, Deon Smith, Joel Mahoney, Huw Anderson (replaced by Amosa Nove), Matthew Jarvis (replaced by Josh Malson), Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Owain Leonard), Kyan Best (replaced by Sam Cochrane), Sam Scarfe (replaced by Will Griffiths), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Ollie Drake), Lance Randall (replaced by Lewis Johnson), Ashley Sweet (captain), Ben Moa, Callum Davies, and Ieuan Jones (replaced by Scott Matthews).