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Match PreviewMatch Report
19 - 36 HT 12 - 24 Saturday 23rd December 2023 / 2:30pm Kick Off
Referee: Keith David (Bridgend)
Pontypool RFC

Pontypool RFC

Tries by Pat Lewis, Scott Matthews and Dan Hill.

Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (2).

Newport RFC

Newport RFC

Tries by Jon Morris (2), Matt O’Brien, Che Hope and Oli Andrew.

Conversions by Matt O’Brien (4).

Penalty by Matt O’Brien.

19 - 36 HT 12 - 24 Saturday 23rd December 2023 / 2:30pm Kick Off
Indigo Premiership
Referee: Keith David (Bridgend)







Clinical Newport overcome rusty Pooler in Gwent derby win

Pontypool welcomed near neighbours and traditional rivals Newport as 4th place took on 3rd in the Indgo Premiership in a Gwent derby on Saturday in what was a great advert for club rugby in Wales, writes Ray Ruddick. Both sides played some good rugby providing a ‘Christmas cracker’ of a game in front of a bumper festive crowd at Pontypool Park on a fine and mild but breezy afternoon. This was Newport’s first visit to Pontypool Park since 14 April 2012 when Pontypool ran out 27-17 winners. Pooler were trying to gain revenge for the defeat by the Black-and-Ambers at Rodney Parade in early September in the opening league fixture of the season but came off second best to a Newport side well-drilled, well-organised and clinical in their finishing as the Black-and-Ambers ran out worthy winners. This was Pontypool’s first home league defeat since RGC won 20-17 on 23 April 2016 – a run of 61 consecutive home league wins.

Before kick-off, a minute’s applause was observed in memory of former Newport, Wales and British Lions great, second row Brian Price, who had passed away earlier in the week, at the age of 86.

Pooler centre Joel Mahoney, who was originally selected for the game, picked up an injury in the warm-up and his place in the starting line-up was taken by Amosa Nove with Josh Malson taking Nove’s place on the replacements bench.

Newport kicked off attacking the bandstand end of the ground and it was the visitors who made the better start. They asked questions of the Pooler defence early on and in the sixth minute Newport’s in form player, outside half Matt O’Brien opened the scoring with a try 15 metres in from the left corner and he duly converted (0-7). Four minutes later the visitors extended their lead with a try by centre Jon Morris who touched down to the left of the posts. Matt O’Brien added the extras (0-14). Pontypool immediately replied when hooker Sam Scarfe charged down a Newport clearing kick and centre Pat Lewis gathered to score an unconverted try, 10 metres in from the left corner (5-14). After a quarter-of-an-hour’s play, Pooler were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck near their goal line to the left of the posts. Matt O’Brien extended his side’s advantage with a successful shot at goal (5-17).

Pontypool then started to get into the game more and on the half hour mark play was inside Newport’s 22. After several drives towards the Newport line, home captain and number eight Scott Matthews crashed over for a try near the uprights. Matthew Jarvis slotted the easy conversion (12-17). In the 37th minute Newport broke from inside their 22 following a relieving kick by Pooler and, after the ball had gone through several pairs of hands, scrum half Che Hope scored a good try to the right of the posts, with Matt O’Brien converting. Half time score – Pontypool 12 Newport 24.

There was no scoring for the first fourteen minutes of the second half, then in the 55th minute Newport were awarded a penalty near half way on their left. Pontypool were slow in getting back and re-organising their defence and there was a large space behind Pooler on their left and the penalty kick was aimed in that area. Right wing Oli Andrew gathered the bouncing ball to cross for the visitors’ bonus-point try. The impressive Matt O’Brien slotted the conversion (12-31). Then Pooler made three changes with Ollie Drake, debutant Dan Hill and Ben Moa taking over from tight head prop Kelvyn Williams, second row Lance Randall and Scott Matthews respectively. Eight minutes later Pooler made two more replacements with Matthew Flanagan taking over from Morgan Lloyd at scrum half and loose head prop Kyan Best made way for another debutant Jordan Morris, a former Pontypool Schools player.

In the 65th minute Newport were on the attack inside Pooler’s 22 and the visitors put in a neat grubber kick towards the left corner. The ball was gathered by Jon Morris who grabbed his second try of the afternoon out wide. The conversion failed (12-36). Pooler made two further changes when Peter Lloyd took over from Sam Scarfe in the middle of the Pooler front row and flanker Mike Herbert made way for Adam Stratton. With about 10 minutes of the game remaining, Pooler were on the attack and play was inside Newport’s 22 when Pooler’s new recruit, second row Dan Hill, barged over for a try near the posts which Matthew Jarvis converted (19-36). Then with six minutes left Josh Malson replaced Matt Bancroft at full back to complete Pontypool’s emptying of the bench. Pooler never gave up and, try as they might, they could not get a fourth try to give them a try bonus point. Final score – Pontypool 19 Newport 36.

The Pooler pack did well against the Newport eight but the Black-and-Ambers looked sharp and dangerous when their backs had the ball. The visitors were more street-wise than their hosts. Once again, Pooler gave their opponents a significant early lead, so this will need addressing. However, this is still a learning curve for Pontypool, having to adjust to a higher level of opponents every game in the Premiership. Next up for Pooler is a trip to St Helen’s to face Swansea on Saturday and the following Saturday 6 January Pooler take on Aberavon at Pontypool Park. Both matches will kick-off at 2.30pm.

Pontypool: Matt Bancroft (replaced by Josh Malson), Ewan Rosser, Pat Lewis, Amosa Nove, Walker Price, Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Matthew Flanagan), Kyan Best (replaced by Jordan Morris), Sam Scarfe (replaced by Peter Lloyd), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Ollie Drake), Lance Randall (replaced by Dan Hill), Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert (replaced by Adam Stratton), Callum Davies and Scott Matthews (captain, replaced by Ben Moa).

Newport: Ioan Davies, Oli Andrew, Jon Morris, Harri Ackerman (replaced by Carwyn Penny), Elliot Frewen (replaced by Lloyd Lewis), Matt O’Brien, Che Hope (replaced by Luke Crane), Thomas Davies (replaced by Tom Workman), Henry Palmer (replaced by Brodie Coghlan), Nathan Evans (replaced by Dan Suter), Rynard Landman (replaced by Nick Thomas), Josh Skinner, George Young, Kyle Tayler (replaced by Rhys Jenkins) and Ben Roach (captain).


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