Try by Stef Andrews.
Conversion by James Davies.
Penalty by Aled Thomas.
Penalties by Matthew Jarvis (4).
Pooler shade Wizards in titanic battle
Tuesday 13 May 2003 was the last time Pontypool tasted victory over Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground when Pooler won the Division One title, writes Ray Ruddick. Since then Pooler have suffered nine consecutive defeats at Aberavon, however, Pontypool’s latest visit in the Indigo Premiership on Saturday was an extremely close affair with very little to choose between the two sides but Pooler held on, only just, as Aberavon missed a relatively easy shot at goal with the last kick of the game.
The kick-off was delayed due to major traffic congestion on Malpas Road in Newport and on the M4 between junctions 35 and 36. When the game eventually got underway, Pontypool kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground in their new changed strip of predominately black jerseys on a grey and damp afternoon. In the ninth minute Aberavon were penalised inside their 22 on Pooler’s left but the attempt at goal went narrowly wide. It was deadlock after 25 minutes, then Aberavon were penalised just outside their 22, 15 metres in from touch on Pooler’s right and visiting outside half Matthew Jarvis slotted the kick at goal (0-3). Three minutes later the Wizards were caught offside 6 metres in from touch on their 10-metre line on Pooler’s right. Matthew Jarvis doubled the visitors’ lead with a fine long range kick (0-6).
In the 34th minute Pontypool loose head prop Sam Cochrane was yellow carded at a scrum just outside Pooler’s 22. Three minutes later Kyan Best temporary replaced flanker Adam Stratton to cover the front row. In the fourth minute of injury time at the end of the first period, Pooler’s young wing Walker Price was sin binned for deliberately slowing down play near half way. Half time score – Aberavon 0 Pontypool 6.
So Pooler started the second half with 13 players. In the 47th minute play was inside Pooler’s 22 on Aberavon’s right. The home side put in a cross kick to the left corner and wing Stef Andrews won the race to the touchdown, five metres in from the corner. This score was converted by outside half James Davies with a superb kick to put the home side a point in front (7-6). In the 52nd minute Pooler made a couple of replacements Lewis Johnson and Peter Lloyd came on for second row Lance Randall and tight head prop Kelvyn Williams respectively. Four minutes later Ben Moa took over from Adam Stratton in the visitors’ back row. In the 57th minute the Wizards’ replacement Aled Thomas was shown the yellow card for a high tackle in midfield on the home 10-metre line. Matthew Jarvis stepped up and regained the lead for his side with a successful, shot at goal (7-9). Nine minutes later Mike Herbert took over from visiting skipper Scott Matthews in the back row.
In the 74th minute Pooler strayed offside in front of their posts and Aled Thomas put the home side back in front with a successful shot at goal (10-9). Pooler then made a couple more changes – Sam Cochrane took a knock and was replaced by Kyan Best and Jack Gillard took over from Sam Scarfe at hooker. Then Pontypool’s final two replacements took the field – Josh Malson for centre Pat Lewis and Owain Leonard made his 50th league and cup appearance took over from scrum Half Morgan Lloyd. In the 81st minute the Wizards were penalised at a maul, 15 metres in near Aberavon’s 22 on Pooler’s right. Mr Reliable Matthew Jarvis went for the posts and put Pooler back in front with another impressive kick (10-12). However the drama was not over as, in the 86th minute, Aberavon went on the attack and Pontypool were penalised deep inside their 22 to the left of the posts but, surprisingly, the attempt at goal went wide and Pooler recorded a rare win on Aberavon soil. Final score – Aberavon 10 Pontypool 12.
This was a committed and determined performance by Pontypool, ably led by their inspirational captain Scott Matthews. The line-outs were much better than of late and their defence was quite outstanding. The Talbot Athletic Ground is one of the most difficult grounds to get a positive result and Aberavon are one of the better Premiership sides so well done to all the Pooler players and coaching staff. Pontypool will be back at Aberavon again on Saturday when the clubs clash in the first round of the WRU Premiership Cup. Pontypool’s next home match at Pontypool Park is the Indigo Premiership game with Carmarthen Quins on Saturday 30 September. Both matches will kick-off at 2.30pm.
Aberavon: Scott Delnevo, Jay Baker, Frankie Jones, Joe Gage, Stef Andrews, James Davies, Aron Hemmings, Jordan Walters, Cameron Lewis, Geraint James, Shay Smallman, Rhodri Hughes, Rhys Thomas, Casey Williams and Travis Huntley. Replacements – Iwan Temblett, Aled Thomas, Brad Roderick, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Luke Davies, Sam Pailor, Rowan Jenkins and Rhys Fawcett.
Pontypool: Matty Bancroft, Walker Price, Pat Lewis (replaced by Josh Malson), Joel Mahoney, Huw Anderson, Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Owain Leonard), Sam Cochrane (replaced by Kyan Best), Sam Scarfe (replaced by Jack Gillard), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Peter Lloyd), Lance Randall (replaced by Lewis Johnson), Ashley Sweet, Adam Stratton (replaced by Ben Moa), Callum Davies and Scott Matthews (captain, replaced by Mike Herbert).