A strong midfield block by Dafydd Lockyer in the opening minutes set the tone for the game, which was keenly contested from the off. Ponty turned defence into attack, showing some deft handling skills in the process. Neither side was able to dominate in a free flowing encounter, with plenty of thrills and spills adding to the excitement. Working off an effective line out platform, Ponty pressed forwards, playing patiently through many phases, the ball worked out for full back Jason Pocock to nip in for a try in the corner, with thirteen minutes gone.
Bridgend set off on the attack straight from the restart, a lofted kick gathered in mid air by winger Nathan Trowbridge, to cross for an opportunist try, the score converted by full back Gareth David. Ponty outside half Dai Flanagan was in turn well short with a kickable penalty, but the visitors striking back with a clever line out ploy, a short throw returned to hooker Duane Goodfield who ploughed over the line for a try. Bridgend were now scrapping effectively for loose ball, and were rewarded as Gareth David put over a penalty with twenty-seven minutes gone. A full blooded encounter boiled over into a fracas amongst the forwards, maintaining an edge to a thrilling contest.
There was plenty of cut and thrust from both sides, the thrill factor enhanced by the odd knock on. Bridgend launched into a concerted period of pressure, with Ponty grafting hard in defence, pegged back in their own twenty-two. Driving on from a five metre line out, the home pack trundled over the line, a try claimed by no 8 Andrew Williams, and the conversion drilled over by full back David. The action continued apace, Bridgend prop Thomas Hearne sent to the sin bin for infringing, but his side holding out to the interval with a lead of 17 pts to 10.
The game seemed to lose none of its tempo as the second period got underway, a charge-down by Dafydd Lockyer giving Ponty the impetus to attack, with lock Grant Harrington going close to scoring in the corner. The visitors kept up their momentum, taking a quick tap penalty, to almost put winger Matthew Nuthall in for a score. With Chris Martenko coming on for Grant Harrington, Ponty were now dominant, the midfield thrusts of Lockyer spearheading their attacks. For all their efforts, the Valleys team could not achieve a breakthrough, hampered by the home team’s infringing tactics as well as their own errors, with Bridgend prop Gareth Alexander sent to the sin bin.
Yet another yellow card was dished out to home hooker Ieuan Dobbs, Ponty now camped in their opponents’ twenty-two with a series of attacking scrums, but unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage. Play was held up for a series of injuries to Bridgend players, and in danger of degenerating into farce with another delay for an injury to the referee and the scrums in front of the home posts becoming passive due to the Ravens’ injury withdrawals.
For all their dominance, Ponty had been unable to gain a points return, the game going into its final quarter with a spate of substitutions made, Paul Matthews coming on for Gavin Dacey, Morgan Stoddart for Dan Hitchings and Sam Wahdan for Ben Rose. Against the run of play, Bridgend launched a concerted offensive, their pack driving on over the line for replacement Gareth Williams to claim a try, the score converted by Gareth David. With Darren Berry on for Gareth Jones and Ben Phillips for Duane Goodfield, Ponty now tried to attack from all angles and field positions, attempting to salvage the game, with the clock ticking away against them. The visitors’ policy of all out attack was however in danger of turning into panic, and with elements of frustration also creeping into their game. Another late substitution saw Ian Poley coming on for Stuart Williams, but Ponty again conceding ground, the final sting in the tail coming as the home pack once more drove on forcefully, rewarded with a try claimed by hooker Andrew Joy, the conversion from Gareth David sealing a Bridgend victory by 31 pts to 10.
15.Jason Pocock. 14.Daniel Hitchings.(Morgan Stoddart) 13.Gavin Dacey.(Paul Matthews) 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Matthew Nuthall. 10.Dai Flanagan. 9.Gareth Jones. (Darren Berry).
1.Stuart Williams (Ian Poley),. 2.Duane Goodfield (Ben Phillips).. 3.Ryan Harford. 4.Dale McIntosh – cpt. 5.Grant Harrington (Chris Martenko). 6.Lee Evans. 7.Ben Rose (Sam Wahdan). 8.Adam Powell.
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