Four tries in twenty first-half minutes secured RGC a deserved win at Parc Eirias.
Joseph Scrivens kicked-off the Welsh Premiership match in Colwyn Bay with Ponty playing into the wind in the first half. Tommy Morgan made a good early break and after a bit of kick-tennis Ponty had a lineout just inside their own half. Joel Raikes put in a short box-kick which was gathered by RGC and the home side had the first decent chance of the match when Ponty slipped a tackle and the resulting break and kick through was gathered by last man Scrivens and he was bundled into touch, 7 metres out from his own line. RGC gave away a penalty at their attacking lineout which allowed Scrivens to kick Ponty up-field into the RGC half – a couple of phases later Ponty were awarded a penalty on the RGC 10-metre line, Scrivens’ kick was successful and Pontypridd had an early 3-0 lead after 6 minutes.
Any early optimism that the away side had soon evaporated during a 20-minute blitz which saw the Gogs touch down for four first half tries. Home full-back Sam Earl-Jones put in a superb 50/22 kick which gave his side field position and a lineout in Ponty’s 22. Ponty worked hard to repel the initial RGC onslaught but after the award of a free-kick and later a penalty to which the home side kept taking quick-taps to keep the tempo up, the policy paid off when blind-side flanker Sam Williams crashed over from close range. Dion Jones added the extras and the score was 7-3.
From the kick-off RGC launched another attack and kicked the ball through. Sam Hayman secured it and Ponty regrouped before Joel Raikes box-kicked it away but respite was temporary. A few phases later, attacking down the right RGC set up a ruck and Rhys Tudor came in off his wing to play scrum-half, picked the ball up from the base of the breakdown and ran in unopposed from 20 metres to score. Jones kicked the conversion and the home side doubled their total to 14 points.
It wouldn’t be long until the double became a treble. The next wave of RGC attack came down their left but the threat was thwarted when home side Skipper Afon Bagshaw was bundled into touch in the Ponty 22. The resulting Ponty lineout wasn’t straight which in turn handed the platform back to RGC and it was the aforementioned Bagshaw, coming in off his wing into midfield to glide through the Ponty defence to score. Jones nudged over the simple extras and the score now stood at 21 points to 3 after 23 minutes.
After 25 minutes the match’s first flashpoint – an off the ball incident on halfway resulted in Ponty being awarded a penalty, but from the lineout that ensued, just inside the RGC 22 Ponty were penalised for obstruction – inaccuracies at the lineout would prove costly for both teams as the match progressed.
Ponty blindside flanker Daniel Phillips, on his first start earned his team a penalty after some excellent jackling at a ruck. Again, as a result the away side had more good field position this time just outside the RGC 22 but this time the throw was not straight.
Pontypridd continued to try and get a foothold into the contest and chip away at the RGC lead. With the score still at 21-3, a hammer-blow for Ponty when RGC put the ball through the backline’s hands from a scrum and winger Rhys Tudor cantered in for his second and his team’s fourth try, securing the bonus point in the process 32 minutes gone.
Déjà vu one might think, but next Ponty were awarded another penalty on halfway by referee Mr Gareth Newman. Again, the ball was pumped into touch on the RGC 22 metre line but again the throw was deemed not straight and this was before RGC twice overthrew at their own lineout deep in Ponty territory with half time in sight.
With the last play of the first half Ponty inflicted their most serious threat to breach the home side’s red zone – Sam Hayman broke out from his own territory and was tackled just inside his own half, Raikes spun the ball out of the ruck to his half-back partner Scrivens and a brilliant side-step and break from him and he was through the onrushing RGC defence. Breaking through and looking around for support there was none close enough to hit with a pass so he put the outside of his boot to ball and Raikes kicked it through again and Mitch Barnard fell on it deep into the RGC 22 but in doing so unfortunately fumbled it, and that was half time.
HALF TIME – RGC 28-3 Pontypridd
RGC kicked off the second half and the first big incident occurred shortly after when Joel Raikes kicked the ball into home territory. RGC ran it back before kicking through and as they did Tom Harper was penalised and subsequently yellow carded for a late tackle.
A few minutes later the pressure on the 14 men took it’s toll. RGC showed good patience, doing their best to wear Ponty down and after some phases fly-half Dion Jones passed an effective short ball to Sam Earl-Jones for an easy finish. Jones converted his try-assist for a 35-3 lead.
50 minutes gone and as the rain started falling Ponty made some personnel changes – Matawalu and Howells were on to try and give Ponty’s backline some fresh impetus.
Sam Hayman, who had at this point switched to the left wing made a decent break but RGC rebuffed the threat. A little later Ponty forced RGC into touch but decent field position led to nothing when the throw-in at the lineout was off-target, but the 14 men were still showing plenty of heart.
When RGC overthrew at a lineout deep in Ponty’s 22 Nathan Huish was the first to react, he gathered the loose ball and proceeded to storm his way 40 metres up-field before being hauled down.
Around the hour mark Ponty enjoyed their first sustained period of pressure. Scrivens’ excellent touch finding kick narrowly missed out on a 50/22 but gave Ponty good field position none the less. A few phases later Ponty were awarded another penalty which was pumped into the corner. An effective rolling-maul was trundling towards the RGC line but it ground to a halt. The home side were once again penalised, this time for offside and despite warnings from the referee no yellow card issued. Ponty took the scrum set-piece 15 metres out in front of the posts, picked up and from open play battered the RGC try-line but superb home defence repelled Ponty. Pontypridd were playing with a penalty advantage, yet despite having had little territorial advantage when the official’s arm was outstretched, when the ball was turned over the penalty advantage that they thought they still had, disappeared.
In the 67th minute Niko Matawalu was yellow carded for pushing an RGC player into touch near the try line off the ball. RGC gave away a free-kick at the lineout and Ponty cleared.
Now into the last 10 minutes of the match and Ponty were still scrapping for ball and hitting the North Walians back in contact but just could not find the cutting edge in attack required to make any sort of dents into RGC’s lead.
A third flashpoint of the match occurred in the dying minutes when Ponty debutant Logan McIntosh and RGC’s Rhys Tudor were both binned for a scuffle off the ball.
RGC second-row Ilan Evans thought he was going to score just before the final whistle when he was put through a hole in the tiring Ponty defence but a superb body-on-the-line tackle from Joseph Scrivens, now at fullback brought him down and forced a ball-spill.
However, RGC did have the last say in the match when replacement winger Delwyn Jones gathered a kick through behind Ponty’s defence to score in the right-hand corner. Sam Rogers wrapped up the scoring with the conversion and RGC ended with a 42-3 win as the snow started to fall.
FULL TIME – RGC 42-3 Pontypridd (11/3/2023)
15. Iestyn Griffiths (Niko Matawalu). 14. Sam Hayman (Matthew Lewis). 13. Ceri Morris. 12. Tommy Morgan (Jordan Howells). 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Joseph Scrivens. 9. Joel Raikes
1. Ben Stephens (Tom Devine). 2. Rob Jones (Gavin Parry). 3. Tom Harper (Nathan Huish). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. Mitch Barnard. 6. Daniel Phillips (James Murphy). 7. Cai James. 8. Sam Evans (Logan McIntosh).
Subs: 16. Gavin Parry. 17. Tom Devine. 18. Nathan Huish. 19. James Murphy. 20. Logan McIntosh. 21. Niko Matawalu. 22. Jordan Howells. 23. Matthew Lewis
Yellow Cards: Harper, Matawalu, McIntosh
15. Sam Earl-Jones. 14. Rhys Tudor. 13. Harri Evans. 12. Danny Cross. 11. Afon Bagshaw. 10. Dion Jones. 9. Efan Jones
1. Jessie Williams. 2. Rhodri King. 3. Pedr Jones. 4. Billy McQueeney. 5. Ilan Evans. 6. Sam Williams. 7. Dan Owen. 8. Jordan Jones
Subs: 16. Osian Burt. 17. Christian Hone. 18. Jordan Scott. 19. Bryn Jones. 20. Charlie Probert. 21. Sam Rogers. 22. Delwyn Jones. 23. Matt Buchanan
Tries: Sam Williams, Rhys Tudor x 2, Afon Bagshaw, Sam Earl-Jones, Delwyn Jones
Conversions: Dion Jones x 5, Sam Rogers
Referee: Gareth Newman
Assistant referees: 1 – Ed Brown, 2 – Matthew Leon