Ponty Youth visited Blackwood on Saturday 31st October,hoping to build on their improving recent results.
The squad were however rocked by a front row injury crisis, after prop Martyn Lee was ruled out with a broken foot and Steve Tucker still recovering from broken ribs - Ponty took the filed with only three fit front row players.
Blackwood made a dream start, after Ponty failed to claim the kick off, and taking advantage of the confusion in the Ponty defence scored an early unconverted try.
Ponty hit back immediately when fly-half Owain Davies slotted over a difficult penalty after some foul play. Ponty should have taken the lead shortly afterwards when enterprising flanker Alex Thomas pulled off a brilliant interception, and expertly drew the full back, but centre Stuart Griffiths failed to hold the pass with the try line open.
Frustratingly for Ponty, they then lost giant prop Callum Reed to a recurrence of a knee injury and the game was reduced to passive scrummaging. Blackwood once again went on the offensive and their move was only stopped 5 metres from the Ponty line after superb work from the Ponty back row. From the resultant scrum, Ponty should have cleared their lines, but foolishly tried to run out of defence, were caught in possession and from turnover ball Blackwood were able profit from Ponty's mistake and cross for an unconverted try.
Ponty then put Blackwood under immense pressure and were camped in the Blackwood 22 for 10 minutes, only being denied by desperate defence, however fly half Davies still took advantage dropping a neat goal to bring the scores to Blackwood 10 Pontypridd 6.
Ponty looked to have added a further score when Blackwood were penalised for killing the ball just short of their try line. Ponty No8 Zak Hodges took the penalty quickly, handed off a Blackwood player who tried to prevent the penalty and crashed over the try line. To Ponty's frustration the referee ruled out the score asking for the penalty to be retaken after he had sent the Blackwood defender to the sin bin. With the defence reorganised Ponty opted to kick for goal but the kick was sliced and Blackwood were let off the hook.
The second half was very similar to the first, Blackwood dominated the first 15 minutes but were unable to add to add any further scores. As the half wore on, Ponty became the stronger of the two sides and dominated possession, however a lack of composure and wrong options were frustrating the Ponty challenge. Davies was again controversially wide with a penalty attempt when the touch judges couldn't agree on whether the kick was good, and after great attacking work from Ponty full-back Casey Pittman, Ponty won a 5 metre line out, but again poor decision making led to an over elaborate set line out move that resulted in Blackwood stealing possession.
The Ponty pack once again managed to put on a great mauling display and on two occasions Lee Griffiths and Nat Williams managed to maul the ball over the Blackwood line, but as in the recent Pontyclun game the referee wasn't sure about the grounding and no score was awarded on either occasion.
With the game in its last few minutes Ponty launched one more attack, and after great work from Owain Davies and Rees Jones, were able to release Josh Pritchard down the right of the field. Pritchard carved open the defence, and popped the ball to Josh Waughington who showed great hands to ride the tackle and offload immediately to supporting lock Daniel "Monkey"Rodgers, who crashed over in the corner for what seemed a great score, but the referee felt the final pass had gone forward and the score was ruled out.
Ponty continued to dominate for the final few minutes but needed a try, so were unable to take advantage of a late penalty and were held out by a dogged and streetwise Blackwood defence.
A frustrating game for Ponty who probably played the better Rugby and certainly didn't deserve to lose by 10 points to 6, but silly mistakes in defence and a lack of composure in attack denied them what should have been a hard won victory.
Centre Josh Pritchard was impressive for Ponty as was scrum half Rees Jones, and in the pack, both Alex Thomas and Tom Flye were outstanding, but narrowly pipping Thomas for this weeks man of the match award was full back Casey Pittman who was dangerous every time he joined the attack and was solid in defence.
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Sut y gallwn hawlio yn ol ein gem genedlaethol? Oes angen newid y strwythur? How can we reclaim our national game? Is there a need for a restructure?