The contrast between two week-ends could not be greater as the mud and rain of Llanharan was replaced by the glorious spring sunshine of Newbridge. As expected, the home pack used their bulk early on to trundle upfield, but Ponty retaliating with the ball in hand, looking far more incisive in attack. A neat break by winger Chris Clayton led the way, with centre Jason Lewis crossing for a touchdown, but play called back for a Pontypridd penalty which Dai Flanagan cooly drilled between the posts.
An excellent piece of initiative from scrum half Gareth Jones saw him take a quick tap penalty and then weave his way through a mesmerised home defence to claim a try, the conversion from Flanagan hoisting Ponty into a ten point lead. Ponty were now well on top, although struggling to set up a line out platform, but securing enough possession to call the shots. Jones’ distribution from the base of rucks was inviting the Ponty back line to run on to the ball to great effect, with winger Darren Berry hauled into touch just short of scoring. Newbridge gained some yardage with their line kicking and followed up with an attacking move along their three-quarters. Holding firm in defence, Ponty scavenged possession in the loose to resume on the offensive, with Pocock and Berry showing good angles of attack. Persistent pressure for the visitors paid dividends as dynamic lock Chris Martenko waltzed through the Newbridge defence for a well taken try, again converted by Flanagan with twenty-five minutes gone.
Ponty were now on a roll, varying their tactics well, a big forward drive taking them over their opponents’ line for flanker Lee Evans to claim a try in the corner. Newbridge to their credit were attempting to join in the free running game, but with too many spillages of the ball, and allowing Ponty to poach and counter attack. The home pack reverted to their tight driving play to take play up into the Ponty twenty-two, but the Valley Commandos dogging it out in defence. Having soaked up a good deal of pressure, Ponty broke upfield, injecting some pace into the game, and again going close to scoring in the corner, with an interval advantage set in their favour by 22 points without reply.
Ponty continued with their policy of moving the ball wide with the sun on their backs, an interception from forty metres out by winger Chris Clayton resulting in another score. Newbridge responded with a sustained phase of attack, but lacking the incisiveness to seriously trouble the visitors’ defence. A snap counter offensive by Ponty instigated a kick and rush upfield, the ball neatly gathered by centre Dafydd Lockyer to cross for a try, the score converted by Flanagan. Ponty were now bristling with attacking intent, another kick and chase followed up by Dai Flanagan to claim a touchdown, hoisting the visitors into an impressive 39 point lead.
Another surge at pace took Ponty to within inches of scoring, setting up camp on the home line, as Richard Langmead came on for Dai Flanagan with sixty-one minutes gone. Retaining their territorial dominance, Ponty played patiently through many phases, their attack culminating with a charge over the line by lock Chris Martenko, his try converted from in front of the posts by Langmead. Luke Brennan, on permit from Aberdare, now came off the bench in place of Martenko, followed by Lloyd Warner in place of Dafydd Lockyer, as Ponty continued to play fast and loose, always threatening to attack from deep. Further substitutions saw Paul John coming on for Gareth Jones and Ryan Harford for Geraint Liddon, as Ponty were sent scurrying back into their twenty-two, engaged in defensive duties. Newbridge now enjoyed a period of dominance, interrupted by the odd skirmish amongst the forwards during a scrappy period of play. The home team finally achieved a breakthrough as replacement Christian Wills darted over for try, converted by outside half Ross Watts.
It was Newbridge who were finishing the game the stronger, breaking away for centre Gavin Ferguson to claim a try, converted by full back John Williams. Stung into action, Ponty claimed the last word as winger Darren Berry finished off a back line move with a try out wide, crossing the half century of points and rounding off a decent afternoon’s work to claim victory by 14 pts to 51.
15.Jason Pocock. 14.Chris Clayton. 13.Jason Lewis. 12.Dafydd Lockyer (Lloyd Warner). 11.Darren Berry. 10.Dai Flanagan (Richard Langmead). 9.Gareth Jones (Paul John).
1.Gerald Cox. 2.Ben Phillips. 3.Graint Liddon (Ryan Harford). 4.Chris Martenko (Luke Brennan). 5.Grant Harrington. 6.Lee Evans. 7.Wayne O’Connor. 8.Dan Godfrey – cpt.
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