Pontypridd forged a series of concerted drives early on, centre Dafydd Lockyer charging down a clearance to maintain momentum. As Lockyer sent through a well judged chip kick, winger Lewis Williams knocked on with the try line at his mercy. A first ten minutes of Ponty pressure, with the game played almost exclusively in the visitors’ half, had not produced a score.
It was Neath who opened the scoring, after their outside half Dai Langdon had pulled wide a long range penalty, full back Aaron Bramwell sprinting clear from a midfield break to score a try which Langdon converted. The visitors were now moving up the gears, centre Gareth McCarthy powering through some weak defending to score another try which Langdon converted.
The game had been turned on its head within the first quarter, a shell shocked Pontypridd attempting to regroup and break out of their own half but falling further behind to a well struck Langdon penalty.
A jinking break by winger Matthew Nuthall finally gave Ponty some momentum upfield, followed by a series of drives and Nuthall just going into touch close to the try line. The home team continued to apply concerted pressure, with Neath full back Bramwell sin binned for infringing and home outside half Simon Humberstone converting the ensuing penalty. Neath struck back immediately as Langdon put over a snap drop goal from broken play.
As the first half drew to a close it was Pontypridd who built up a head of steam into their opponents’ twenty-two, a series of passing moves and short drives culminating in a try claimed by second row Craig Locke and converted by Gareth Wyatt, registering an interval scoreline of 10pts to 20.
Pontypridd struck again early in the second period, launching a snap attack from a line out take, the ball whipped out for winger Matthew Nuthall to squeeze in for a try in the corner..
Another flowing attack and a kick and chase from Nuthall almost produced another score. A competitive and abrasive encounter was in the making as Neath launched a counter attack, going over for a try but the effort disallowed for crossing.
The game was balanced on a knife edge going into its final quarter, with Ponty maintaining a territorial advantage but replacement outside half Lewis K Williams off target with a wide angle penalty. The home team launched phase after phase of attack, giving the ball plenty of width along the back line but a cross kick from Williams coming to nothing and a penalty attempt then rebounding off the post.
Going into injury time Ponty continued to press forward but unable to apply the killer touch against a resolute opposition, and ultimately losing out by 15pts to 20 after a tense encounter.
15.Gareth Wyatt. 14.Lewis I Williams. 13.Dafydd Lockyer. 12.Gary Williams (Gavin Dacey). 11.Matthew Nuthall. 10.Simon Humberstone (Lewis K Williams). 9.Rhys Downes (Lewis Jones).
1.Stuart Williams (Ken Knaggs). 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Craig Locke (Jake Thomas). 5.Ryan Savage. 6.Chris Dicomidis – cpt. 7.Wayne O’Connor. 8.Owen Sheppeard (Dan Godfrey).
“Golden Bob” man of the match: Matthew Nuthall
|Pontypridd (10) 15||Neath (20) 20|
|Tries: Locke (40+4); Nuthall (45)||Tries: Bramwell (14); McCarthy (18)|
|Con: Wyatt (40+4)||Cons: Langdon (14, 18)|
|Pen: Humberstone (33)||Pen: Langdon (24)|