Pontypridd took on their Aberdare counterparts in a series of games on Sunday 7th October, gaining a run of hard fought victories at under 9 and under 10 level...
Game 1Pontypridd U 9’S 15 Aberdare U9’s 0
The talking point amongst all the supporters before the game was the shock of first Australia and then the mighty All Blacks being dumped out of the World Cup, talk of Ponty’s imminent match and the strength of their opponents quietly and confidently forgotten.
Both England and France perfectly illustrated the danger of over-confidence in their opponents, and straight from the kick off captain Jay Jones and his Ponty team were stunned to find themselves battling on their own try-line. Aberdare were possibly the bigger side physically and were matching Ponty in both intensity and technique, and for the first time this season the boys looked as though they could be overwhelmed. The first quarter of the game was all Aberdare, their players surging forward again and again, Ponty stretched to the limit, just managing to hold out, everyone feeling it was only a matter of time before Ponty would find themselves behind for the first time this season.
Gradually, through sheer willpower and determination the boys fought their way back up field, thanks to a tremendous break by Dafydd Smith, the ball was eventually moved wide to the left and Kiellan Mahoney amidst the excitement and evident relief of the crowd broke the deadlock.
Half time quickly followed, and suddenly the talk was about Aberdare and the challenge they presented, the World Cup now long forgotten, the doubts in the minds of Ponty supporters plainly visible, their team under pressure, could they cope? The boys however, clearly had no such doubts and emerged in the second half with renewed determination and belief, their attempts to pass and run the ball, so effectively stifled by Aberdare in the first half began to bear fruit, their teamwork and flair in attack matching their bravery and courage in defence.
Jay ‘The Pocket Battleship’ Jones scored 3 minutes in the second half to provide some breathing space with a typical bulldozing run through the opponents defence. His surging runs this week matched and at times exceeded by Callum ‘Tucker’ Hall who powered upfield like a Chieftan Tank, his ball carrying providing a focus for the team and putting them slowly on the front foot and gradually, very gradually allowing them to take some control of the game.Griff ‘Greased Lightning’ Lloyd worked tirelessly all game tackling like a demon to halt Aberdare’s progress, and half way through the second half picked himself up from a crunching tackle to sprint half the length of the pitch and score the final try of the match.
The game had been a tough bruising encounter, Aberdare had presented by far the toughest test of the season thus far being the first side able to put Ponty under sustained pressure for large parts of the game. The players responded with a quite magnificent show of teamwork, courage and determination and the sheer will power that they would simple not be beaten.
Both Aberdare and Ponty have a large squad of players, and thus the second game showed wholesale changes on both sides. Whether Ponty has greater strength in depth, or whether they had learnt the lessons in the first game is debateable, what is not is the way in the second game captain Alex Garrett and his team were better able to impose their own running and passing game on their opponents.
Aberdare still pressurised Ponty at every available opportunity, but this time Ponty were able to respond and match their opponents physicality. Griff ‘Greased Lightning’ Lloyds try after 4 minutes meant that whilst the half time score of 5-0 was the same as in the first match, Ponty were looking the more likely side to come out on top, much to the relief of their supporters. This view was further supported a minute after the break as Carl Blacker showed tremendous speed to jinx through the Aberdare defence and score the second try.
Ponty has abundant pace throughout the team and both Dafydd Smith and Lloyd Owens illustrated this perfectly by skilfully avoiding tackles and out-sprinting the Aberdare defence to score Ponty’s 3rd and 4th tries, and effectively kill off the game. The intensity of the game was now not quite as severe as in the first match, players on both sides feeling the pain and strain of such a tough physical encounter. Aberdare to their credit took advantage of some weak tackling by the home side to score two tries of their own, the second a fine solo effort started on the half way line.
The final try however, in the last minute of the game belonged to Ponty, as Owain Morris with a forceful charge powered over the line to seal a second tremendous victory. It will be interesting next week to see what all the pre-match talk is about!!!
Ponty kicked off and put immediate pressure on the Aberdare defence but were unable to break through. Ponty continued to keep Aberdare pinned in their own half but were unable to turn pressure into points. Aberdare got a penalty and ran at the Ponty defence and got close to the Ponty line but good defence held them up over the line conceding a 5 meter scrum. From the scrum desperate tackling from Ponty forced a knock on right on the line.
Aberdare continued to pressure the Ponty line but firm defence and sheer determination not to concede points kept them out. High tempo rugby from both sides continued, but as good as the attacking rugby played, the defence of both sides was better. From a line out a good tackle from Adam (Ox) Morris forced a knock on but Ponty could not capitalise. Half Time Pontypridd 0 Aberdare 0
Aberdare kicked off the second half and the ball was fielded by Morgan Burgess who showed his usual power and speed to gain good ground but was eventually put into touch. Aberdare continued to pressurise the Ponty line and forced a line out 5 meters out. From the line out Aberdare almost scored but were pushed into touch right on the corner flag. the resulting line out a mix up in the Ponty backs saw Aberdare dive on the loose ball to open the scoring.
From the kick off Ponty looked for the score to bring the game level but again the Aberdare defence was rock solid. Ponty kept the pressure on and forced a 5 meter scrum but again were forced into touch just short of the try line. Eventually Ponty put pressure on the Aberdare outside half who sliced his kick straight into the arms of Lewis Allen who ran over the line to score and bring the game level. Mason Pritchard converted to put Ponty ahead. With only a few minutes to go.
Aberdare threw the kitchen sink at Ponty but despite a lot of huffing and puffing could not blow down the Ponty defensive wall. The final move of the match saw Ponty with a 5 meter defensive scrum and after winning the ball the crowd could not believe that the scrum half just kicked the ball into touch. Little did the crowd know that the canny Ponty players had asked the referee how long was left and had been informed it was the last play, obviously all those hours of watching the rugby world cup had paid off. Full Time: Pontypridd 7 Aberdare 5
Scorers: Try : Lewis AllenConversion : Mason Pritchard Team: Rhys Grainger©, Mason Pritchard, Callum Pearce, Lucas Hickman, Adam Ashford, Daniel Griffiths, Liam Morton, Adam Morris, Harley Jones, Lloyd Harris, Shawn Bowditch, Jasper Powell, Lewis Allen, Greggor McKain, Morgan Burgess
This was an amazing result for the boys as this Aberdare side had been unbeaten for a number of years. After every match the coaches get together and select a man of the match award but it was decided that this was such an all round team effort that they could not single out one individual player. Well done the whole team. Finally it was nice to see Mark Wakeham back refereeing the game after his knee operation which forced him out at the later part of last season .