As the final tie got off to a physical and frenetic start, Pontypridd were just getting the better of things, edging the set scrums and providing some cut and thrust in the loose. That advantage was converted into points as outside half Simon Humberstone succeeded with a penalty at the second attempt with six minutes gone.
Although Ponty were maintaining a territorial dominance their lead did not last long as Aberavon full back Matthew Jarvis responded with a penalty well kicked from a wide angle. It was Aberavon who then struck for the evening’s first touchdown, capitalising on a turnover as Ponty attempted to run from deep, and sending lively winger Richard Carter over for a try which Jarvis converted.
The contest continued fast and furious and Pontypridd building up momentum with a series of drives into their opponents’ twenty-two, scrum half Lewis Jones sniping in and stretching over for a try which Humberstone converted to level the scores 10pts apiece. The Valley Commandoes continued to battle for field position and Humberstone showing great awareness to coolly slot over a drop goal with thirty-three minutes gone.
Ponty were finishing the first half strongly, showing good support skills and with a good tempo to their game, dynamic flanker Darren Waters bursting through for a try which Humberstone again converted to give his side an interval lead of 20pts to 10.
The second period resumed as the first had finished with Ponty recycling possession and pressing forward. Aberavon’s tendency to infringe was doubly penalised as hooker Mark Breeze was dispatched to the sin-bin, and Humberstone slotting over the resultant kick at goal.
All attempts by the Wizards to sustain pressure were driven back by an aggressive Ponty defence, who then countered with a turnover and some sublime offloading in contact to send scrum half Jones clear for another try which Humberstone converted.
Just as Ponty seemed to be pulling away, Aberavon showed their mettle by pounding into the midfield gain line, going close to scoring in the corner. The Wizards kept up the pressure on a hard working Ponty defence, who were grateful for the clearing kicks of Humberstone and full back Thomas to give them some respite.
Going into the final quarter of the game Aberavon finally made the most of their endeavours, creating an overlap for lock Sam Williams to canter over for a try which Jarvis converted.
A highly competitive finale was in store as the Wizards continued to pile drive into the Ponty twenty-two, no8 Nathan Strong rounding off another passing move with a try which Jarvis again converted from a wide angle. Straight from the restart Ponty replacement wing Chris Clayton gathered the ball and drawing in the opposition defence, sent lock Ryan Savage over for a crucial try.
Aberavon remained fully committed to attack and used their midfield thrust to put the Ponty defence under intense pressure, the game ebbing and flowing from end to end with no let up in its tempo. A thriller of a cup final came to an end with Ponty holding out for victory, deservedly so but having had to contend the verdict all the way against a spirited Aberavon side, by 35pts to 24.
15.Adam Thomas. 14.Gareth Wyatt. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Owen Williams (Chris Clayton). 10.Simon Humberstone (Dean Gunter). 9.Lewis Jones (Garyn Lucas).
1.Stuart Williams (Ken Knaggs). 2.Kristian Dacey. 3.Ryan Harford. 4.Cory Hill (Craig Locke). 5.Ryan Savage. 6.Darren Waters (Ed Siggery). 7.Wayne O’Connor (Huw Dowden). 8.Chris Dicomidis – cpt.
S4C man of the match: Lewis Jones.
|Pontypridd: (20) 35||Aberavon: (10) 24|
|Tries: Jones (30, 52); Waters (37); Savage (68)||Tries: Carter (24); Williams (61); Strong (67)|
|Cons: Humberstone (30, 37, 52)||Cons: Jarvis (24, 61, 67)|
|Pens: Humberstone (6, 45)||Pen: Jarvis (15)|
|Drop Goal: Humberstone (33)|
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