Pontypridd 46-15 Newbridge

27.9.2003  14:30
Welsh Premier League
Sardis Road

[Pontypridd RFC] Winning clean line out ball, Ponty set up a platform to attack, a break at pace by winger Richard Fussell taking them up another gear. As Ponty continued to press forwards, a stray pass gave Newbridge outside half Ross Watts a chance to race away on a counter break, winger Andrew Bevan up in support to claim a try.

Ponty clawed their way back into contention, outside half Lee Thomas making amends for an earlier miss by kicking a penalty with ten minutes gone. The visitors in turn responded with a slick passing move along the back line, working winger Neil McKim into an overlap to claim a touchdown wide out. The flow of play was interrupted by many penalties, one of which was stroked through the posts by Lee Thomas, narrowing Ponty’s deficit to 6pts to 10.

A breakdown in a Newbridge attack was seized upon by home winger Richard Fussell who sprinted clear from midway inside his own half to score, the try converted by Lee Thomas. The Gwent team were next up on the attack, using their forward bulk to grind a path to the home line, Ponty defending grimly under pressure. Holding out against a series of five metre scrums, the Ponty pack stood firm for Lee Thomas to clear his line. Ponty edged their way back upfield, and although failing to find fluency in their attacks, settled for another Lee Thomas penalty to increase their lead.

It was the siege gun line kicking of Thomas that now kept Ponty moving forwards, followed up by a forward charge to take the home team deep into the Newbridge twenty-two. The scoreboard was kept ticking over as Lee Thomas hoisted over another penalty from thirty metres out, going into the last five minutes of the first period. Ponty were now well on top, maintaining their territorial advantage, albeit without firing on all cylinders in attack. A breakdown in a Ponty offensive saw ball carrier Jason Lewis harshly sin binned for holding on to the ball, and Ponty holding out to the interval with a lead of 19pts to 10.

A double substitution saw Matthew Rees and Mark Lewis coming out in place of Pat Riordan and Dale McIntosh, with Ponty on the back foot against some hard forward driving from their Gwent opponents. Having soaked up some pressure, Ponty worked their way back upfield, only for Lee Thomas to pull wide a penalty in front of the posts. Scrum half Mathew Thomas now departed injured, replaced by Tommy Walsh, as Ponty maintained their forward momentum, although still stuttering, with knock ons and stray passes at crucial moments.

Pressure was proving difficult to turn into points as Lee Thomas failed with another penalty attempt, but Ponty then making amends with a burst upfield, some fine handling skills from lock Grant Harrington putting Jason Lewis in for a try, Lee Thomas this time on target with his conversion. Having missed a penalty from the half way at the restart, Lee Thomas once more struck the target with a well taken drop goal to take Ponty to an impressive advantage of 29pts to 10, going into the final quarter of the match.

The contest was still pretty much a stop start affair, impaired by handling errors and the constant whistling of the referee. Newbridge managed to build up a head of steam in attack, but with the home defence up in their faces to hold them at bay. With Emyr Lewis now on in place of Richard Fussell, and Johnathan Edwards for Wayne O’Connor, Ponty broke out on a counter offensive led by the rampant Lee Beach, to set up camp in the visitors’ twenty-two.

The game once more see-sawed from end to end as Newbridge responded with a period of pressure, with plenty of thrills, but little fluency and cohesion to the run of play. The visitors lost their momentum as prop Phil Taylor was sin binned, allowing Ponty to set off on a surge upfield, the attack led by Emyr Lewis, with flanker Johnathan Edwards up well in support to score, the try converted by Lee Thomas.

A double prop substitution saw Lee Fuge and Ryan Harford on for Gerald Cox and Ioan Jones, as Ponty continued to press forwards, with some well directed line kicking from Lee Thomas helping them on their way. A neat break by Neil Boobyer split the visitors’ defence, for Emyr Lewis to wing his way over for a try, superbly converted from the touchline by Thomas.

With the verdict now a foregone conclusion, Newbridge set off on a late injury time foray, for winger Andrew Bevan to burrow over for a consolation try, but no more than that, as the final whistle blew on a comprehensive victory for Ponty by 43pts to 15. The Ponty team significantly saluted their supporters before departing the field – in the hope that many more such performances can be enjoyed at Sardis Road, long into the future.

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