A fifth consecutive victory proved beyond Pontypridd Youth in this friendly away to Bridgend Athletic on Saturday 15th October.
The roles of recent games were reversed in an entertaining and even contest with Pontypridd losing 17-5 after struggling to put points on the board against opposition who started the tie quickly and left the visitors with too much to do to come back.
The bulk of the first half was controlled by Bridgend and they showed the better fluency and confidence while Pontypridd struggled to find both their voices and their feet. All but three of the host’s points came in a blistering first ten minutes that seemed to take Pontypridd by surprise and although Bridgend’s tactics were fairly basic what they did they did well.
The home team were by no means outclassing Pontypridd who were always in the contest and although the visitors’ scrum struggled in the early engagements and the usually forceful driving play off the base was being well marshalled there was no faulting Pontypridd’s commitment in the tackle and they showed flashes of attacking intent through full-back Dale Hughes and centre Adam Harcombe.
The hosts added to their lead with a penalty kick on twenty minutes but the Pontypridd scrum was beginning to gain some parity and a lineout take by Tom Flye was driven over the Bridgend line only to be held up. The resultant scrum allowed Adam Harcombe and then hooker Nathan Evans to drive for the line but the promising position was undermined by Pontypridd dissent. Aggressive cover defence by Jordan Eynon and James Nicholas helped contain a counter attack inside Bridgend territory and the first half came to a positive end when Pontypridd took a quick tap penalty and fed winger Jordan Rees who broke from thirty metres out to score a morale boosting try in the corner.
An invigorated and far more vocal Pontypridd emerged from the half time team talk and they maintained the momentum for the whole of the third quarter. The pack showed more focus and after pushing a Bridgend scrum off the ball, hard running by replacement open-side Ieuan Evans and captain Mike O’Connor almost brought Ponty a second try. The home team were now giving Bridgend a lesson in pressure rugby and a yellow card against Bridgend gave James Nicholas a kick at goal that was surprisingly missed. The final twenty minutes was the most evenly contested period of the game with both sides creating but spurning a number of scoring opportunities.
The Pontypridd scramble defence was effective in keeping a number of Bridgend attacks out and a chip and chase by Dale Hughes gave his forwards a promising scrum deep in the opposition half. Max Day and debutant James Kelly combined to take the ball to within a couple of metres of the Bridgend try line but when the referee awarded the hosts a penalty the final chance to reduce the margin of defeat was missed.
Coaches Simon Bayliss and Andy Price were disappointed with the result and the performance early in the game but were encouraged by the attitude of the players and the way they fought back in the remainder of the match. They were both looking for a positive response in training this week in readiness for another tough game against Treorchy Youth next weekend
15. Dale Hughes 14. Joshua Edwards 13. Adam Harcombe 12. James Nicholas 11. Jordan Rees 10. Shane Hutchinson 9. Chris Jones 1. Paul Minty 2. Nathan Evans 3. Jordan Eynon 4. Joss Howatson 5. Mike O’Connor (Capt) 6. Gavin Steele 7. Tom Flye 8. Max Day
Subs:16. Jack Whelpton 17. Daniel Pritchard 18. Ieuan Evans 19. Mike Jones 20. Josh Waughington 21. Rhodri Garland 22. James Kelly
Try – Jordan Rees
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