[Pontypridd RFC] Both teams struggled to get going in the early stages of the game, at loggerheads with each other in the mid section of the park. A big forward surge put Newport on the attack, but Ponty just holding out on their own line.
The home team responded with a counter offensive at pace, winger Richard Fussell hauled into touch short of his destination. Ponty’s endeavours were however rewarded with a penalty from in front of the posts kicked by Jason Pocock, with eleven minutes gone. Ponty continued to edge the battle for possession, but Pocock just off target with a long range penalty shot.
The home team kept up their offensive, a forward drive up the middle of the field seeing young hooker Ieuan Dobbs crossing for a try, converted by Pocock. It was Newport who were next up on the attack, testing the home defence to the full with a series of concerted charges, but Ponty once more keeping their line intact. Although Pocock pulled wide another penalty attempt, Ponty reaped further rewards for their positive approach, centre Emyr Lewis seting off on a weaving solo run to the try line, his touchdown improved by Pocock’s conversion, with twenty-three minutes gone.
Ponty were showing a good appetite in the tackle area, and able to turn over possession to keep forging a way into the visitors’ half. Their cause was further enhanced by a solid looking scrum, all in all keeping Newport hemmed back in their own twenty-two. Ponty were well on top at this stage, but Pocock once more off target with a penalty attempt, going into the last ten minutes of the first period. The home team launched an attack at pace with Emyr Lewis stopped just short of the line, Ponty settling for another three points from the boot of Jason Pocock, whilst Newport centre Rhys Shorney was sin binned for impeding.
The Black and Ambers set off on an injury time offensive for centre Scott Williams to burst through for a try, converted by outside half Jerrett, setting an interval scoreline in Ponty’s favour by 20pts to 7.
A half time substitution saw Johnathan Edwards coming out in place of Craig Hill, and Ryan Harford then on as blood replacement for Gerald Cox. Newport forged a path to the home twenty-two, laying siege to the Ponty line, a concerted period of pressure culminating with centre Rhys Shorney barging over for a try, Jerrett’s conversion unluckily rebounding off a post.
The game was now evenly balanced, both sides claiming a share of possession. Ponty launched a concerted foray into the visitors’ half, their scrum once more a potent weapon, piling on the pressure deep in the Newport twenty-two, but failing to make the breakthrough. Setting off on a counter attack, Newport worked the ball out along the back line for winger Craig Richards to cross on an overlap in the corner, narrowing the scoreline to 20pts to 17, setting up a tense final quarter to the game.
Tommy Walsh now came on for Matthew Thomas, with Ponty very much on the back foot, conceding a further three points from a Daniel Griffiths penalty. Ponty continued to ring the changes, Ian Evans coming on for Grant Harrington, but still struggling to impose themselves on the contest. The line out was a problem area for the home team, failing to achieve any platform from that phase, and struggling to make headway upfield.
A Pocock penalty attempt from the half way line fell short of its target, with Ryan Harford now on for Ioan Jones, and Patrick Riordan coming on for Ieuan Dobbs. Ponty were yet again soaking up pressure going into the final five minutes of play, Newport putting on the squeeze with a big driving maul, setting up camp on the home five metre line. Ponty were under intense pressure, but grimly holding out before no 8 Dan Godfrey turned over possession to clear.
A late substitution saw Matthew Rowlands coming on for Jason Lewis as Ponty launched a last gasp foray upfield, but all to no avail. The spoils of the contest were destined to be shared, the final scoreline a draw by 20 points apiece.
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