Tough battle in Ponty

Llanelli put in a really good performance at Sardis Road and came very close to securing an unexpected win. They competed toe to toe with Ponty right up to the last play but it was the home side who secured the result much to the relief of the home supporters.
Ponty came flying out of the blocks at the start and managed to get their hands back on the ball nearly straight away from the kick-off and found themselves in possession in the Llanelli 22. A few phases later Ceri Morris put in a cross-field kick which hit the deck and the bounce was gathered well by winger Jac Davies who, on the move fed the supporting Sion Parry who crashed over for the try. Dale Stuckey added an excellent conversion and Ponty had a near-perfect start to proceedings.

Llanelli restarted the match and it was their turn to enjoy some possession and territory in Ponty’s 22, their pack went through some hard work up front, inching their way deeper towards Ponty’s try line but some dogged work and counter rucking from Ponty earned the home side a relieving penalty at the breakdown. At this point Ponty centre Brad Roderick went off with an injury, Jake Lloyd replaced him.

There wasn’t even ten minutes on the clock at this stage of the match, the next ten minutes or so proved to be frantic and frenetic. Llanelli won a penalty on halfway and kicked into the corner, but they then coughed up their own ball at the set piece and Ponty kicked down-field, Llanelli gathered and kicked to touch giving Ponty decent field position. Both sides then took it in turns to consolidate possession and the result was a few turnovers at the breakdown.

Nearly quarter of an hour on the clock and the next points of the match came next – a scrum on the Llanelli 22, a solid Ponty scrummage earned the home side a penalty, one which Jake Lloyd slotted to make it 10-0.

Immediately from the restart Llanelli won the ball back, go through some phases and are awarded a penalty at the breakdown – Ponty adjudged to have not rolled away by referee Mr. Newman. Livewire Llanelli scrum-half Archie Hughes tapped and went quickly sniffing an opportunity but was held up just short of the try line. However, Ponty were penalised for not being 10 metres when it was tapped so the visitors were awarded another penalty and this time they kicked into the corner. Llanelli threw in at the line-out and left it to the forward pack to try and get the try but excellent Ponty defence near the line kept repelling the waves of forward play by the visitors. Eventually the home side’s defence forced an error from Llanelli and Ponty cleared their lines through the boot.

19 minutes into the match Ponty were reduced to 14 men when Dale Stuckey was yellow carded by the referee for ‘getting in the way’ when Llanelli again took a quick tap from a penalty in the Ponty 22. Ponty again repelled Llanelli close to the line, this time holding the ball up off the floor and from the proceeding scrum Ponty won another penalty which they cleared their lines.

Llanelli then won scrum ball in their own 22m from which centre Jonny Lewis put in an excellent cross kick to Scarlets Academy wing Josh Hathaway who was unlucky not to gather the ball – beaten by the bounce. The wing was having a good game and showed real pace when ever he had the ball.

Pontypridd then started to enjoy some territory and possession in the right parts of the pitch from their point of view, producing some good try scoring opportunities. on the 26 minute mark, the ever-consistent former Scarlet academy no. 8 Joe Miles made two bulldozing carries, then some good link play from Sion Parry who fed Ceri Morris and he threw a long miss-pass to Jac Davies on the right wing, Davies jinked back inside but was tackled just short of the try line. From the resulting ruck Ponty quickly work the narrow blindside but a Llanelli player sticking out of the ruck hits the ball forward. Following that decision and a reset scrum, Ponty are penalised this time and it’s Llanelli that are able to relieve the pressure.

33 minutes on the clock, the play is around the halfway line and ferocious Ponty tackling forces a ball spill from the Llanelli forwards, hooker Ieuan Morris picked up the loose ball and booted it downfield and it’s a footrace. Coming across Llanelli openside flanker Luca Giannini falls on the ball, first man there for Ponty is the superb Cally James and his work at that breakdown wins the penalty – slotted again by Jake Lloyd, 13-0 to Ponty. As the half ended, the visitors came away scoreless but had created a number of opportunities to show the travelling supporters that the game was very much alive.

HALF TIME – Pontypridd 13-0 Llanelli

Josh Phillips got the second forty underway for Llanelli and again retain possession from another one of their own restarts. The visitors, still enjoying the second half possession of the ball win a penalty which they kick to touch. From the line-out, some powerful work from the Llanelli pack gets them on the board for the first time in the afternoon through openside Luca Giannini who burrowed over from close range. Josh Phillips added the conversion and at 13-7 the away side were right back in the contest.

After 51 minutes the Ponty lead decreased again, Josh Phillips kicking another penalty – game on.

Unfortunately for the visitors a few minutes later the excellent boot of Jake Lloyd restored Ponty’s 6-point lead – the score 16-10.

Nearly an hour has elapsed at this point and Ponty are awarded a penalty just inside their own half, Jake Lloyd stepped up and kicked it superbly from long range to open up a nine point advantage.Straight from the kick-off Ponty are penalised for crossing-obstruction, this time Josh Phillips missed a kickable penalty for Llanelli and as a result Ponty’s two-score lead remained intact at 19-10.

65 minutes on the clock, big turning point in the game. Llanelli rolling maul got over the try line and it looked like the deficit would be reduced to just two points but the referee deemed the ball was held up much to the players frustration!

75 minutes gone and Llanelli substitute Taliesin Rees kicks a penalty which puts the score line at Ponty 19 Llanelli 13 and now it’s really game on for the final few minutes.

The match at this point is really open and loose, Llanelli throwing everything at Ponty, Ponty doing their utmost to secure the win.There was still more than enough time for Llanelli to have some good chances – firstly they hack the ball through and the covering Jake Lloyd can only gather and kick it out making no ground but from the lineout Llanelli over throw the ball and Ponty clear. The respite is only temporary, Llanelli are awarded another penalty and again kick deep into the Ponty 22 but again fail to seal possession at their own line-out and Ponty clear their lines. From the next play, Llanelli attack down the left hand with skipper Nathan Hart passing to Hathaway who outpaced the defence but an inside pass was knocked on and  what might have been the winning scoring chance was lost. With the clock showing that 84 minutes had been played there was still no end to the drama. From the Llanelli line-out on halfway, Ponty are penalised for entering the ruck at the side. Llanelli pump the penalty deep into Ponty’s 22 and this is last chance for the men from Parc-y-Scarlets. Llanelli try a clever throw to the first man at the line-out but it doesn’t travel the required 5 metres and Ponty are awarded a free-kick. Game over.

FULL TIME – Pontypridd 19-13 Llanelli