On Sunday 19th February the Pontypridd under 12s travelled to play Abergavenny, and came away as narrow losers by 17 pts to 7.
This was a case of what could have been. Despite a good start by Abergavenny it was Pontypridd who were dominant for most of the match and could easily have won the game if a bit more luck had gone their way.
Abergavenny started brightly, putting Pontypridd under early pressure and were deserving of an early try by their giant wing who barged his way through some lacklustre tackling to score. This appeared to wake up the Pontypridd players who until that point had appeared lethargic in their play. It was a case of honours even for the rest of the first half, with Pontypridd's pack dominant up front, but Abergavenny's huge backs dominant in the open play. Though the smaller Pontypridd backs tackled their hearts out and kept their bigger opponents on the back foot with some excellent rush defence. Their impressive defence led to several turnovers, one of which saw the excellent fly-half Joel Raikes sprint away to score under the posts, only to be called back for a foot in touch, much to the dismay of the away supporters. The half ended with a bit of luck for Abergavenny as a dropped ball by Pontypridd behind their own try line was seized upon for an easy score by an Abergavenny player for a first half lead of 12 - 0 to Abergavenny.
Impressive in the first half were the busy props Will Thomas and Johnathan Griffin who shoved the Abergavenny pack all over the field. It was good also to see Ryan Jones back in the fold trying to win opposition ball alongside Nathan Payne who was his usual pestering self. Steffan Jenkins was involved in everything that was good about Pontypridd dominance up front, constantly winning the loose play around the park. In the backs Chris Jones at scrum-half gave his sharpest performance to date and constantly fed quick ball to the backs that was appreciatively used to good effect by the outside centre Josh Pritchard who ran the Abergavenny midfield ragged with his powerful bursts. Whilst in defence the big hitting Liam 'Gibbsy' Williams was an important cog, knocking over the far larger Abergavenny players and prevented several breaks. He was constantly supported by the impressive Oliver Bailey at full-back who had a solid display and was at the centre of every defensive move along with every attacking one.
The second half started with Pontypridd in the ascendancy and controlling almost every facet of play, but it was Abergavenny who would score the first points of the half. A defensive maul just outside their own twenty-two saw the Pontypridd pack feed the ball back only to find an opposition player standing where their outside-half should be and the ball was gratefully accepted as he sprinted away to score unopposed under the posts despite the offside protestations from the Pontypridd players and supporters. This gave Abergavenny a lead of 17 - 0, but this is a resilient Pontypridd side and the lads never stopped playing. Their efforts were rewarded with a well worked forwards try by the ever grinning Gareth Cleaver that was successfully converted by Joel Raikes. But despite Pontypridd's best efforts the match ended with an unlucky defeat in a game that they would normally have won. On the day Abergavenny were very impressive and clearly had some excellent and huge players, but with a bit more luck it could have seen a completely different result for what was a dominant Pontypridd side.
Prominent in the second half was the dynamic pack leading hooker Jordan Jevons who led by example at every opportunity, alongside with the huge Michael Connor who was at the heart of everything and was Pontypridd's main ball carrier throughout the match. Constantly in support were the keen Alex Knowles along with the abrasive Dan Williams and ever present Oliver Dalley who is improving with every game. Whilst in midfield, Joel Raikes was his typical ever present self, having a solid display at fly-half before moving to centre where he constantly knocked over anyone who dared run near him and was the catalyst of the attack that saw Pontypridd score. Also impressive with their tackling were the aggressive little dynamo Mickey Jones and the even smaller Morgan Rees who despite their small stature were not overawed by the bigger players facing them and continually dumped several of the opposition's far bigger players.
Pontypridd Try scorer
: Gareth Cleaver
Joel Raikes kicked the conversion.
Preece Removals Man of the match:
1. Will Thomas, 2. Jordan Jevons, 3. Johnathan Griffin, 4. Michael Connor, 5. Ryan Jones, 6. Alex Knowles, 7. Nathan Payne, 8. Daniel Williams, 9. Chris Jones, 10. Joel Raikes, 11. Liam Williams, 12. Mickey Jones, 13. Josh Pritchard, 14. Morgan Rees, 15. Oliver Bailey. Subs: Oliver Dalley, Steffan Jenkins and Garin Rossiter.
The players, coaches and parents would like to thank Edwards Coaches for providing affordable transport for the Mini and Junior sections. Whilst we would also like to thank our hosts Abergavenny RFC who clearly put a real effort into making us all feel welcome and provided plenty of food for all their hungry guests.