Pontypridd came through a stern physical test against English division one side Rotherham Titans to claim a hard fought victory by 17pts to 14.
This was a friendly fixture, but a fracas in the first few minutes underlined that it was going to be a full on battle for glory – a theme that continued throughout the game. Ponty took an early lead as lock Chris Martenko charged over for a try, the score converted by Gareth McCarthy. Rotherham responded with a period of pressure, but the home side holding out defiantly in defence. Ponty in turn set off on the offensive, with hooker Dowden leading the line, his side just edging a highly competitive encounter.
Poaching possession in the loose, with flanker O’Connor doing some sterling foraging work, Ponty once more advanced upfield, a concerted attack rewarded with a deserved try for O’Connor himself. The visitors finished the first half strongly, but Ponty, courageous and well organised in defence, holding out for an interval lead of 12pts to 0.
Ponty again soaked up a good deal of pressure as the second half commenced, but then hit back with a vengeance. Showing good variation in their play, Ponty penetrated deep into opposition territory, a cut out pass from McCarthy sending winger Chris Clayton in for a try in the corner.
There were many changes made off the bench, as the game continued to be played with a hard physical edge. The Titans showed their prowess in attack, but time and again were held up by the hard working Ponty cover tacklers. Although not a free running spectacle, the match was a tense affair with both sides fully committed in attack. A mass brawl, followed by a stern lecture to both captains, once more emphasised that this was no easy come easy go pre-season preamble.
Launching a snap counter attack, Rotherham finally achieved a breakthrough as centre Chris Bryers crossed for a try, converted by Mike Whitehead. Remaining a competitive encounter right to the end, Rotherham claimed a consolation score with the last action of the game, Brad Hunt scoring a try which was drop-kick converted by Whitehead.
Ponty had done more than enough by then to deservedly claim victory by 17pts to 14, and had profited from a tough challenge in the lead up to their Welsh Premiership campaign.
15.Kristian Baller (Garan Pearce). 14.Curtis Cunningham (Dan Dearden). 13.Gavin Dacey (Adam Thomas). 12.Adam Thomas (Mike Davies). 11.Owen Williams (Chris Clayton). 10.Gareth McCarthy. 9.Andrew Jenkins (Gavin Morris).
1.Stuart Williams (Owen Cotton). 2.Huw Dowden (Leighton Davies / Rhys Williams). 4.Chris Martenko (Dale McIntosh). 5.Grant Harrington (Chris Martenko). 6.Rhys Lloyd. 7.Wayne O’Connor (Kristian Dacey). 8.Nathan Strong - cpt
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