A breathtaking performance by the Ponty Youth XV proved too much for a determined Treherbert last weekend. In an exhilarating performance of attacking rugby that ended in a ten try rout, Pontypridd showed just what they are truly capable of. After their below par performance against Penygraig, they were determined to make amends in this league fixture against Treherbert.
With Ponty having slipped to third place in the league, it was a must win game against the team a place above them in second and Ponty were fortunately able to welcome back flanker Sam Studley and prop Marc Jones for this key encounter. The visitors started with a try after two minutes, scored by flanker Dafydd Gristock and converted by Rhys Sims. A few minutes later a brilliant break from centre Dan Dearden and good support from his centre partner Lewis Egal saw full back Simms go over for the second try, again converted by Sims himself.
Treherbert seemed shell shocked when a poor kick off was collected by the Ponty back line, who launched another superb counterattack from deep in their own half, with the move once more expertly finished by Dafydd Gristock for his second try. Ponty could sympathise with Treherbert, as they had experienced a similar start last week and hence understood how dangerous Treherbert could be if they were given time to settle into the game. So Ponty were not going to ease off the pressure.
In the first half further tries followed from wing Ben Troake and Gristock again for his hat trick, both converted by Simms to take Ponty's tally to 33 without reply from Treherbert. Pontypridd continued to move the ball wide as quickly as possible, and with flyhalf Lewis Smith varying set moves to confuse the already dazed defence, Ponty were again able to unlock it. Dan Dearden ran in two quick tries, and the conversions by Sims saw the score move to 0-47 with half time still a good few minutes away.
At this point discussions between the referee and the watching referee assessor led to the announcement that play would stop if Ponty crossed the 50 point barrier before half time, as the contest was too one sided. Ponty therefore threw on all seven subs in an attempt to give as many players as possible some game time. Full praise goes to the Treherbert coaches, who approached the referee to ask that the game be continue, as they felt their players had not shown their true capabilities and were able to make a come back.
Treherbert came out fired up and were quick to repay their coaches faith. True to their word, the Treherbert players upped their performance to put Ponty under enormous pressure right from the kick off. After some excellent forward play, Treherbert were able to drive over from a close range line out for their opening try that was excellently converted. Under increasing pressure, the Ponty boys made a basic mistake to allow Treherbert an excellent field position from which they launched a series of powerful forward drives and deservingly scored a second try that went unconverted.
With the scoire at 12-47 the Ponty coaches were starting to fear that their players had burnt themselves out with all the early running and were desperate for some relief. Eventually quick ball by the Ponty pack produced another try when No 8 Dean Maissey and lock Jon Reid launched a series of powerful runs up-field. The ball was quickly spun wide to Troake, who realised that he had little support and launched a speculative up and under. The ball landed in no-man's land, and with the Treherbert defence caught ball watching, Maissey grubber kicked the ball oneards. It bounced off two Treherbert players before bouncing over the try line, where the chasing Troake dived on the ball for his second try that was once again converted by Simms.
This was the lucky break Ponty needed to settle second half nerves and they were quick to resume their attacking play of the first half. Good play by replacement prop Dale Pugh and Studley saw Lewis Smith launch a high kick for replacement Ponty centre Tom Newberry to out-jump the Treherbert defence and offload to Dearden who raced into the twenty-two before feeding Simms. The full back threw an outrageous dummy to Troake before strolling in under the posts untouched by the confused defence. Once again Simms converted his own try and Ponty were up to 61 points.
The final try of the game again came from a mistake from what was by now a tired, though determined Treherbert defence. When Treherbert set up a promising ruck on the Ponty ten metre line, it looked like they had numbers out wide and might score. However tired players allowed replacement Ponty hooker Cai Daniel to burst through the middle of the ruck, pick up the ball and burst up-field. Slick passing from Studley, Reid, Gristock and Maissey saw them power up-field. When the ball was switched to the backs, Smith, Dearden and Newberry moved the ball quickly to wing Max Padfield, who took the play close to the Treherbert try line. Then, from a five metre scrum, Ponty No. 8 Maissey ended the game as he had started it, picking up at the back and eventually being drive over the line by his pack.
There were a number of excellent performances in the Ponty side and all twenty two players deserved credit for the spirited way they bounced back from the disappointment of the last week. The man of the match award went to blindside flanker/scrum half Sam Studley, who was outstanding in both positions.
TRY scorers for Pontypridd: Dafydd Gristock (3), Rhys Simms (2), Ben Troake (2), Dan Dearden (2) and Dean Maissey. Rhys Simms kicked 9 Conversions.