7.2.2003 Youthful look to Ponty squad
[PontypriddRFC] It seems many moons ago, towards the end of last May, when Pontypridd achieved glory at the Millennium Stadium, claiming the Principality Welsh Cup after a dramatic victory over Llanelli.
There was no mention of mergers, franchises or provinces to
blight the euphoria of that day, but much water has flowed under
the old bridge since. Ponty's current campaign takes a significant
turn of direction this week-end as they set off in defence of the
Principality Cup, with an away tie against first division side
Cross Keys on Saturday 8th February, the game kicking off at 2:30
A combination of long term injury problems and commitments to the Welsh national squad on the eve of the six nations championship, has seriously depleted the Ponty ranks, and in terms of selection for the Cross Keys game, it is a case of all available hands to the pumps to ensure that the defending champions' cup campaign stays afloat.
The fitness crisis at Sardis Road has eased slightly over the
past few days, with lock Brent Cockbain and flanker Geraint Lewis
having recovered from leg injuries, and winger Emyr Lewis passed
fit following a fractured rib. Still without the services of
centres Sonny Parker and Jon Bryant, outside halves Ceri Sweeney
and Neil Jenkins, props Gethin Jenkins and Duncan Bell, hooker
Mefin Davies, lock Robert Sidoli and back row pair Richard Parks
and Michael Owen, and with permit centre Neil Boobyer cup-tied with
Llanelli, coach Lynn Howells has enough selection headaches to
Winger Richard Johnston is recalled from his loan period with Llanharan, hooker Paul Harris draughted in from Treorchy, and there are call ups to senior duties for Academy players, full back Matthew Nuthall, centre Lee Thomas, prop Geraint Morris and flanker Mark Lewis. Evergreen scrum half Paul John once more answers the call to duty by moving over to occupy the problem position of outside half, as Ponty set off on the cup campaign determined not to make a drama out of a crisis. The Pontypridd team selected to face Cross Keys on Saturday is as follows...
15.Brett Davey. 14.Gareth Wyatt. 13.Shaun James. 12.Jason Lewis. 11.Emyr Lewis. 10.Paul John. 9.Gareth Baber. 1.Neil Hennessy. 2.Matthew Rees. 3.Sven Cronk. 4.Brent Cockbain. 5.Dale McIntosh. 6.Nick Kelly. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Geraint Lewis.
subs: Geraint Morris; Paul Harris; Mark Lewis; Kingsley Jones;
Lee Thomas; Richard Johnston; Matthew Nuthall.
Having had their last two premiership fixtures postponed, Ponty now have a significant backlog of league games to re-arrange. The home tie against Caerphilly has been given a new date of Friday evening 21st February, with a 7:15 pm kick off, and the away tie against Llanelli will be played on Friday evening 28th March. Ponty are resigned to going into these vital league games with a depleted player base, as they take place on the eve of the Wales v England, and France v Wales internationals respectively.