Tries by Huw Anderson and Scott Matthews.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Penalties by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Tries by Harvey James and Matthew Jenkins.
Conversions by Rhys Jones and Matthew Aubrey.
Penalty by Rhys Jones.
Pooler secure first Premiership win in over 11 years in tight tussle with Swansea
Premiership rugby returned to Pontypool Park on Saturday after almost eleven and a half years when Pontypool welcomed Swansea for an the Indigo Premiership match in the sweltering heat with the temperature over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, writes Ray Ruddick. Having put up a good performance in the defeat by Newport at Rodney Parade last time out, Pontypool needed to get a win under their belts early in the season to settle the squad and boost confidence and this result certainly has done that.
Pontypool kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground. In the 5th minute Swansea were penalised for a high tackle midway between their 10-metre line and 22, five metres in from touch on Pooler’s right but the difficult kick went narrowly wide. Nine minutes later Pooler were guilty of handling in a ruck near their 10-metre line, 20 metres in from their left touchline and outside half Rhys Jones slotted the kick at goal to put the visitors ahead (0-3). After a quarter-of-an-hour’s play the home side were on the attack and, following a flowing movement across the back line, right wing Huw Anderson dived over for a try, 5 metres in from the right corner. This score was superbly converted by outside half Matthew Jarvis (7-3).
Midway through the first period, play was near Swansea’s 22 with Pontypool in possession but a loose pass was gathered by wing Harvey James and he sprinted 75 metres to score a try under the posts as the visitors capitalised on Pooler’s mistake. Rhys Jones converted (7-10). The sides seem to cancel each other out for much of the second quarter. However, in the second minute of injury time Pooler were on the attack deep inside the visitors’ 22 and, following an offence at a powerful driving maul near Swansea’s goal line, flanker Jake Baker was shown the yellow card. The just before half time, the home side were testing the Swansea defence near the visitors’ goal line and flanker and captain Scott Matthews powered over for a try near the posts. Matthew Jarvis converted. The half time whistle then sounded and Pooler went into the break 4 points to the good after an absorbing first 40 minutes. Half time score – Pontypool 14 Swansea 10.
The early exchanges in the second half were even and then, in the 53rd minute, Pooler were penalised just outside their 22, twelve metres in from touch on Swansea’s right but the shot at goal went wide. Three minutes later the visitors were penalised at a scrum 3 metres inside their half, 20 metre in on Pooler’s right and Matthew Jarvis fired over the long range goal (17-10). In the 63rd minute the complete Pooler front row was changed – Sam Cochrane, Sam Scarfe and Ollie Drake made way for Kyan Best, Jack Gillard and Peter Lloyd respectively. Then two minutes later, home flanker Callum Davies took a knock and he was replaced by Adam Stratton. Shortly after, Walker Price took over from left wing Deon Smith to make his Pooler debut. In the 68th minute play was inside Pooler’s 22 on Swansea’s left and wing Matthew Jenkins squeezed over in the corner for a try, converted by scrum half Matthew Aubrey with a fine kick to level the match (17-17). So, going into the closing stages of this intriguing contest, it was all to play for.
In the 74th minute Pooler second row Lance Randall was replaced by Lewis Johnson and then Owain Leonard took over from Morgan Lloyd at scrum half shortly after. In the 78th minute centre Pat Lewis made way for Amosa Nove, who made his 50th appearance for the club as the home side emptied their bench. With the game approaching the last minute of normal time, Swansea were caught offside, 5 metres inside their half and 20 metres in from touch on Pooler’s left. Up stepped Matthew Jarvis who struck the ball sweetly and slotted a fine kick (20-17). Pooler needed to hold out going into injury time. In the fifth minute of time added on Swansea were penalised for side entry at a ruck near their 22. Home second row Ashley Sweet took a knock and was advised by the medical team to come off but Pooler had used up all their replacements, so the home side were down to 14 players for the final phase of play, which was deep inside the visitors’ 22. Pooler safely negotiated that and secured a well-earned win. Final score – Pontypool 20 Swansea 17.
This was a gutsy showing by Pontypool in a very tense affair. It was tight throughout but Pooler showed a desire and will to get over that winning line, so well done to all concerned. The matches over the next two Saturdays will both take place at the Talbot Athletic Ground. On Saturday Pontypool face Aberavon in an Indigo Premiership clash and seven days later in the first round of the WRU Premiership Cup. Pooler’s next home match will be on Saturday 30 September when Carmarthen Quins will be the welcome visitors to Pontypool Park. All three games will kick-off at 2.30pm.
Pontypool: Matty Bancroft, Huw Anderson, Pat Lewis (replaced by Amosa Nove), Joel Mahoney, Deon Smith (replaced by Walker Price), Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Owain Leonard), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Kyan Best), Sam Scarfe (replaced by Jack Gillard), Ollie Drake (replaced by Peter Lloyd), Lance Randall (replaced by Lewis Johnson), Ashley Sweet, Scott Matthews (captain), Callum Davies (replaced by Adam Stratton) and Ben Moa.
Swansea: Gareth O Rees, Matthew Jenkins, Joe Thomas, Osian Knott, Harvey James, Rhys Jones, Matthew Aubrey, Ed Thompson, Jamie Cox, Scott Jenkins, Lloyd Ashley, Matt Dodd, Jake Baker, Callum Bowden (captain) and Joe Greaves. Replacements – Owen Thomas, Freddie Chapman, Kian Hire, Lewis Jones, Dai Francis, Rhodri Lewis, Marcus Brown and Willis Wood.