Tries by Morgan Lloyd (2) and a penalty try.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Tries by Liam Wiggins, Tavis Knoyle, Adam Hoskins, Dafydd Thomas and Dan Wall.
Conversions by Gareth Thompson (3).
Pontypool 21 Merthyr 31
Merthyr proved too strong for Pooler in entertaining pre-season friendly
Pontypool welcomed Merthyr to a wet Pontypool Park on Friday evening under floodlights for their second and final pre-season friendly ahead of the long-awaited return to the Premiership, writes Ray Ruddick. Merthyr fielded a strong side and came away with a deserved win in a good work-out for both clubs.
Pontypool kicked-off attacking the bandstand end of the ground in their changed strip of blue jerseys. As early as the fourth minute the visitors took the lead following a driving maul inside Pooler’s 22 when hooker Liam Wiggins touched down, 15 metres in from the right corner. Outside half Gareth Thompson converted (0-7). Four minutes later the Ironmen extended their lead when they got possession in Pooler’s half, between the 10-metre line and 22. Former Welsh international scrum half Tavis Knoyle made a break, chipped ahead and gathered to score a try to the left of the posts. Gareth Thompson added the extras (0-14). In the 12th minute Merthyr’s loose head prop Callum Lewis was shown the yellow card for not retreating 10 metres following a quick tap penalty by Pooler near the visitors’ goal line.
After a quarter of an hour, Pontypool were on the attack near the Merthyr goal line and, despite slipping on the greasy surface, scrum half Morgan Lloyd managed to score a try close to the left upright. Outside half Matthew Jarvis slotted the easy conversion (7-14). In the 26th minute the visitors struck again with a well-worked try by right wing Adam Hoskins crossing wide out on the right, having created an overlap. This score went unconverted (7-19). Just before the interval Merthyr ran the ball from deep and replacement wing Dafydd Thomas scored a try in the left corner, converted by Gareth Thompson with a fine kick. Half time score – Pontypool 7 Merthyr 26.
In the fourth minute of the second period play was inside Merthyr’s 22 and following a powerful driving maul by the home side, Morgan Lloyd received the ball and dived over for a try to the left of the posts. Matthew Jarvis obliged from the tee (14-26). Seven minutes later Merthyr’s left wing Teri Gee was sin binned for an offence close to the Merthyr goal line. In the 63rd minute Pontypool were on the attack deep inside Merthyr’s 22 and, following a powerful drive, the visitors infringed. The referee Adam Jones, one of Wales’ leading officials, awarded Pooler a penalty try and issued a third yellow card to Merthyr, this time to second row Callum Bradbury (14-26).
With 10 minutes remaining, Pooler’s replacement flanker Adam Stratton was sin binned for a high tackle near the Pooler goal line. In the 72nd minute Merthyr were awarded a penalty near Pooler’s 22, a quick tap was taken and replacement hooker Dan Wall crossed for a try in the right corner. The conversion attempt struck the outside of the upright. Final score – Pontypool 21 Merthyr 31.
Merthyr is one of the best sides in the Premiership and this showed with their slickness and attacking from deep. However Pontypool, after a slow start, gradually got more into the game and did well to contain the dangerous Ironmen. The Pooler coaches can be reasonably satisfied with this performance but it is a huge step up to that of the Championship and there is still much to be learned and much to work on if Pontypool are going to be competitive this season.
The next game for Pontypool, and the opening match of the Premiership season, is the mouth-watering clash with old rivals and near neighbours Newport at Rodney Parade on Sunday 3 September 2023 with a 5.15pm kick-off as the game will be televised. It is almost eleven and a half years (4,159 days to be exact) since these two former giants of Welsh rugby last locked horns, so it promises to be a cracker.
Pontypool: Matty Bancroft, Huw Anderson, Pat Lewis, Joel Mahoney, Deon Smith, Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd, Kyan Best, Sam Scarfe, Peter Lloyd, Luke Fleming-Jones, Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert (captain), Callum Davies and Ieuan Jones. Also played – Jack Gillard, Kelvyn Williams, Craig Price, Lance Randall, Adam Brown, Lewis Johnson, Adam Stratton, Ben Moa, Owain Leonard, Dylan Lewis, Amosa Nove and Marcus Jones.
Merthyr: Ben Jones, Adam Hoskins, Morgan Sieniawski, Rhys Davies, Teri Gee, Gareth Thompson, Tavis Knoyle, Callum Lewis, Liam Wiggins, Dave Whiting, Craig Locke (captain), Callum Bradbury, Paddy McBride, Jack Perkins and Ben Fry. Also played – Dam Wall, Louis Jones, Rhys Lewis, Tom Davies, Tom Daley, Gareth Davies, Dafydd Thomas, Morgan Meaclem and Sam Evans.