Pontypridd Youth enjoyed their moment in the sun and kept themselves in contention for the Blues B league title with a patient and disciplined win on the road over a gutsy Llanharan team on Saturday 24th March.
The warm weather and a hard pitch were perfect conditions for the fast, fluid rugby Pontypridd enjoy but the visitors struggled to get beyond the Llanharan 10m line in the early phases despite good continuity and they then found themselves behind to a long range penalty from the big kicking Llanharan outside half. The ball was being spread about by both teams but it was Pontypridd who looked the only team likely to cross the try-line with first Dale Hughes showing his trademark pace and elusiveness before fellow wing Jordan Rees ran strongly to within five metres of the Llanharan line.
Although a number of passes went to ground and the lineout struggled in the surprisingly stiff breeze, Pontypridd steadily built momentum and pressure as the first half progressed and a midfield break by centre Elliot Davies was aggressively carried forward by Paul Minty but the resultant penalty hit the post. The centre then sparked a sweeping Pontypridd move by snapping up a loose ball on his own 22 before sensibly kicking into open field where full-back James Kelly collected and broke into the Llanharan half before fantastic collective support from loose forwards Gavin Steele, Ieuan Evans and Dewi Kingsbury saw the latter stride into the corner only for the referee to call a double movement. A succession of Pontypridd attacks followed with fly-half Shane Hutchinson going close after strong driving by replacement Connor Ryan and the faultless James Kelly running every loose Llanharan kick back with interest but somehow it was Llanharan who went further ahead right on half-time with a penalty off the back of their first foray into Pontypridd territory for the best part of the second quarter.
A scrappy start to the second half was compounded for Pontypridd with a player soon in the sin-bin but the forward platform remained solid with the lineout becoming more consistent and the scrum dominant and the visitors soon started to manufacture more scoring opportunities; a break over half-way by Kelly was supported by Adam Harcombe who bust up the middle only for the final pass to fall short and then Dale Hughes broke wide from inside his own half, skipped past all but one defender before linking with replacement wing Josh Edwards who bustled up to the Llanharan 22 only for the referee to find against Pontypridd at the breakdown. The levee finally broke twenty minutes into the second half when a clean Pontypridd lineout take on the hosts 22 was recycled through the backs before Adam Harcombe attacked the line and carried a couple of tacklers over with him. The conversion was missed but James Nicholas was successful with his next scoring opportunity putting away a straightforward penalty and with Pontypridd controlling the final few minutes of the game Shane Hutchison was able to put over a rare drop-kick to close out a valuable win by 6pts to 11.
Coaches Simon Bayliss and Andy Price were pleased to see the composure and maturity from their team who despite not playing to their potential were able to grind out a win in a game they threatened to lose and the fifth consecutive win provides good momentum going into the business end of the season.
15. James Kelly 14. Dale Hughes 13. Elliot Davies 12. Adam Harcombe 11. Jordan Rees 10. Shane Hutchinson 9. James Nicholas 1. Jordan Eynon 2. Paul Minty 3. Callum Reed 4. Mike O’Connor 5. Tom Flye (Capt.) 6. Dewi Kingsbury 7. Ieuan Evans 8. Gavin Steele
Subs:16. Chris Jones 17. Dillon Lewis 18. Connor Ryan 19. Josh Waughington 20. Tom Robinson 21. Josh Edwards
Try – Adam Harcombe
Penalty – James Nicholas
Drop-goal – Shane Hutchinson