Tries by Kelvyn Williams, Marcus Jones and a penalty try.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Penalty by Matthew Jarvis.
Tries by Morgan Kneath and Ryan Griffiths.
Conversion by Kristian Jones.
Pooler prevailed in tough battle with resolute Neath
The two clubs that were promoted from the Admiral Championship last season, old rivals Pontypool and Neath, faced each other on Saturday at Pontypool Park in the Indigo Premiership with differing fortunes this season, writes Ray Ruddick. Whereas Neath have been struggling for a win, Pooler’s record of seven wins in nine starts sees them lying in third place in the league table. However, the difference in league positions counted for nothing in this tough encounter as Neath made it difficult for their hosts with their commitment and well-organised defence and were unlucky not to take anything away from the match.
The conditions throughout the game were very difficult. With rain falling during the match and the strong wind not helping, the pitch was heavy and slippery on a dank autumn afternoon, making handling challenging. Neath kicked off attacking the scoreboard end of the ground. For the first 24 minutes Pontypool shaded both territory and possession but could not break down a determined Neath defence. In the 25th minute the Welsh All Blacks were guilty of side entry at a ruck just outside their 22, slightly to the left of the posts and home outside half Matthew Jarvis, who passed 100 points for the season last time out, slotted the kick at goal (3-0). Ten minutes later Pooler were on the attack near the Neath goal line and eventually the pressure told when tight head prop Kelvyn Williams powered over for a try to the left of the posts. Matthew Jarvis added the extra two points from the tee. Half-time score – Pontypool 10 Neath 0.
In the third minute of the second period, play was just inside the visitors’ 22 on Pooler’s right and Pooler’s powerful driving maul took play to very near Neath’s goal line when the maul collapsed and the referee ran between the posts, awarded Pontypool a penalty try and yellow-carded Neath number eight David Griggs (17-0). Eleven minutes later Neath were in the ascendancy and play was inside Pontypool’s 22. Pooler transgressed at a ruck near their line, and after receiving some medical attention, hooker Sam Scarfe was sin-binned. Neath took advantage of the extra man a minute later when flanker Morgan Kneath crossed for a try in the left corner. The conversion failed (17-5). Just before the hour mark Pooler were forced to make a change for the Scarfe yellow card and replacement hooker Peter Lloyd took the field in place of wing Pat Lewis as a temporary measure to cover the front row. Also Mike Herbert took over from Callum Davies in the home back row.
In the 65th minute Neath went back on the front foot and play was inside Pontypool’s 22. After several phases, the ball went right and wing Ryan Griffiths scored a try in the corner. This score was converted by outside half Kristian Jones (17-12). Pooler then changed both props as loose head Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths made way for Sam Cochrane and Ollie Drake took over from Kelvyn Williams on the tight head. Three minutes later Pooler made another change when Ben Moa was replaced by Adam Stratton in the back row and six minutes later second row Lewis Johnson made way for veteran Adam Brown, who was making his first appearance of the season for the home side.
Going into the final five minutes of an enthralling and close game, Pontypool were on the attack inside Neath’s 22 and, after several powerful drives towards the visitors’ goal line, play went right, the ball reached captain and flanker Scott Matthews who did well to get the scoring pass to wing Marcus Jones who squeezed over in the corner for a try which Matthew Jarvis converted with a fine kick, despite slipping, to put the home side twelve points to the good (24-12). Towards the end of the game Pontypool made their final two changes when Owain Leonard took over from scrum half Matthew Flanagan and Josh Malson came on for centre Amosa Nove. Despite a spirited effort from Neath to get a losing bonus point, Pooler held on. Final score – Pontypool 24 Neath 12.
Pontypool needed to bounce back after the defeat at Llandovery the previous Saturday and they managed to get the win so well done to them but credit to both sides for a close and entertaining contest in awful conditions. Pooler’s next match will be on Saturday with a trip to the Brewery Field to take on traditional rivals Bridgend, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool: Matt Bancroft, Marcus Jones, Joel Mahoney, Amosa Nove (replaced by Josh Malson), Pat Lewis (temporary replaced by Peter Lloyd), Matthew Jarvis, Matthew Flanagan (replaced by Owain Leonard), Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths (replaced by Sam Cochrane), Sam Scarfe (replaced by Peter Lloyd), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Ollie Drake), Lewis Johnson (replaced by Adam Brown), Ashley Sweet, Scott Matthews (captain), Callum Davies (replaced by Mike Herbert) and Ben Moa (replaced by Adam Stratton).
Neath: Lewis Evans, Louis Rees, Ryan Evans (captain), Sean Wilcox (replaced by Kieran Charles), Ryan Griffiths, Kristian Jones (replaced by Steff Williams), Gruff Williams (replaced by Chris Morgans), Jack Powell (replaced by Gareth Lloyd), Sion Crocker (replaced by Josh Clark), Tim Ryan (replaced by Tarik Dabeh), Jacob Blackmore, Cai Arnold (replaced by Ioan Jones), Morgan Kneath, Ben Williams (replaced by Dyfan Ceredig) and David Griggs.