LLANELLI 3:22 PONTYPRIDD
Saturday 22nd December 2018
High flying Pontypridd came to Parc y Scarlets looking for a sixth straight league win to consolidate their credentials as potential Premiership title contenders. That aim was ultimately achieved, but not without a considerable amount of hard graft against a spirited Llanelli side who proved to be a totally different proposition from that which had lost by forty-plus points at Sardis Road earlier in the campaign.
It took a moment of magic from dynamic winger Dale Stuckey in the sixty-seventh minute to finally cement the Valley Commandos’ 3pts to 22 win, the visitors unable to cross for a fourth bonus point touchdown but in turn having kept their own try line intact throughout.
Although dominating territory for long periods of the first half, Pontypridd were up against a stubborn home defence, who were putting in the tackles and battling for every scrap of possession in the loose. It was Ponty full back Ben Jones, who had previously kicked effectively for field position, who opened the scoring with a penalty, before then supplying a neat back-hand pass to send winger Dale Stuckey cruising in for an unconverted try wide out. Llanelli fought their way back into contention, centre Jonny Lewis converting only one of three penalty attempts at goal, from various distances, before the visitors re-asserted their superiority, veteran outside half Ceri Sweeney sniping in for a try under the posts, converted by Jones to give his side a 3pts to 15 interval lead.
The contest struggled to ignite after the restart, Pontypridd attempting at times to up the tempo by taking quick tap penalties, winger Dale Stuckey going close in the corner, but their efforts overall rebuffed by a Llanelli team that gave as good as they got, the third quarter of the game remaining scoreless.
Both teams made numerous changes off the bench and were guilty of committing errors in cancelling each other out for long periods of play. It was that man Stuckey who finally lit up the enveloping winter’s gloom, waltzing his way to the line to score a crucial try which Ceri Sweeney ably converted from a wide angle. Llanelli still refused to give up although the game was by now effectively beyond them, but Pontypridd finishing strongly, going in search for that elusive bonus point try and earning penalty awards to close out the game with a deserved 3pts to 22 victory.
Pen: Jonny Lewis
Tries: Ben Jones; Dale Stuckey (2)
Cons: Ben Jones; Ceri Sweeney
Pen: Ben Jones