Pontypridd opened the scoring through a Dean Gunter penalty with only two minutes on the clock. The visitors were intent on moving the ball despite the greasy conditions and making headway into opposition territory early on.
The contest was already developing into a highly physical scrap for possession in the loose. Neath launched a snap counter offensive with winger Jamie Davies going close to scoring in the corner. Concerted pressure by the home team was eventually rewarded as outside half Dai Langdon hoisted over a penalty to level the scores.
Neath were maintaining a territorial advantage, and set up a big driving maul from an attacking line out, the pack piling over the whitewash for flanker Gareth Gravell to claim a try, converted by Langdon.
Ponty were pinned back in their own half, often committing errors to give away the initiative, and Neath benefiting from the wind assisted positional kicks of Langdon. The home team instigated a kick and rush attack but having a try disallowed for crossing. Ponty would have been relieved to hear the half time whistle, having endured long periods under pressure and trailing by 10pts to 3.
Straight from the restart, and with the elements now behind them, Ponty took the game into their opponents’ half and set up positions for outside half Gunter to kick two penalties in quick succession.
Neath responded with a penalty converted by Langdon only for Ponty to retaliate immediately and Gunter once more successful with a kick of his own. In deteriorating conditions, the game was a physical battle fought at close quarters, with the Ponty pack getting the better of skirmishes, counter rucking fiercely and negating the Neath scrums and mauls.
Ponty full back Harley Thomson launched a counter attack at pace and pressure again turned into points as Gunter aimed a penalty through the posts with sixty-two minutes gone.
The game was being played out mostly in the home half, and as Neath centre Gareth McCarthy was sin binned for infringing, the trusty boot of Dean Gunter once more aimed the ensuing kick on target. Into injury time, and aggressive Ponty defence held at bay what Neath had left to throw at them, holding out for a valuable away win by 13pts to 18.
15.Harley Thomson (Gareth Wyatt). 14.Owen Williams. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Matthew Nuthall. 10.Dean Gunter. 9.Rhys Downes.
1.Stuart Williams (Ryan Harford). 2.Huw Dowden (Rhys Williams). 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Jordan Sieniawski. 5.Cory Hill. 6.Chris Dicomidis – cpt. 7.Wayne O’Connor (Tom Hetherington). 8.Dan Godfrey.
|NEATH (10) 13||PONTYPRIDD (3) 18|
|Try: Gravell (23)|
|Con: Langdon (23)|
|Pens: Langdon (17, 52)||Pens: Gunter (2, 41, 45, 54, 62, 82)|