The game got off to a frenetic start, both sides benefiting from turnovers and their opponents’ errors. Using Nathan Strong as their front line ball carrier, Ponty forged into the visitors’ half, but tending to look hesitant in their midfield advances. The first ten minutes of the match passed by with no scoring chances created and neither side dominant.
Following a bright start the game was now in danger of degenerating into a scrappy affair, and Swansea spurning the first scoring chance as fly half Stuart Thomas pulled wide a kickable penalty. With Swansea by now holding a territorial advantage Thomas made amends as he slotted his next penalty attempt between the posts, with eighteen minutes gone. Failing to secure their own line out ball, Ponty could not impose themselves on the game, going into the second quarter of a pretty low key affair.
A neat break from home fly half Neil Burnett set up Nathan Strong on a charge to the line, but losing the ball just before scoring. Ponty were now more workmanlike in their approaches, but still lacking a vital cutting edge to their play. As Swansea broke upfield on a counter offensive, Ponty wing Chris Clayton intercepted, setting centre Gavin Dacey on a long distance race to the try line for a dramatic score, ably converted by Jason Pocock. This was the spark to ignite Ponty’s fire, now looking full of attacking intent. Seizing a good share of possession, the home team stormed upfield with flanker Rhys Shellard leading the charge, pile driving into their opponents’ twenty-two. Following some fine support work and a break from full back Pocock, Ponty shipped the ball wide for centre Dafydd Lockyer to claim a try. Swansea threatened late on with a burst up the flank, but Ponty holding out for an interval lead of 19 pts to 3.
Both teams looked lively as the second half got underway, with the visitors getting the better of exchanges. Poaching their opponents’ line out ball, Ponty resumed on the attack, an off the ball block on full back Pocock resulting in a yellow card issued to Whites no 8 Gareth Newman. A double substitution saw Tu Tamarua coming on for Adam Powell and Leighton Davies for Richard Emms, as Pocock just failed with a long distance penalty attempt. Ponty then soaked up a significant amount of pressure, but losing scrum half Gareth Jones to the sin bin for a professional foul, with Ryan Harries brought on at the expense of winger Chris Clayton. Having defended their line grimly, Ponty relied on the long range clearance kicks of fly half Burnett to give them relief, the first twenty minutes of the second half remaining scoreless.
As Chris Dicomidis came off the bench for Grant Harrington, Pocock was again just short with a booming penalty from near the half way line, but Ponty then sitting back to defend against the visitors’ attacks. Nathan Strong was forced to retire with a head wound, with Adam Powell returning to the fray in his place, the game by now a pretty scrappy affair although keenly contested by both sides. Ian Poley was next off the bench for Ponty, replacing Rhys James, before a phase of fast and loose play was rounded off with an opportunist try for Swansea wing Leigh Bevan.
An error strewn game was in danger of going adrift, before Ponty finally put some shape on their play, linking together some fine passages of support play. A neat chip kick from Gareth Jones invited winger Gareth John to follow up for a try in the corner, well converted by Pocock. Ponty were now looking sharp in attack, generating a flowing move in which centre Gavin Dacey split the visitors’ defence, with flanker Shellard up in support to score, his try converted by Pocock.
Swansea in turn set off on a snap offensive to send centre Chris Shelmerdine over for a try, the score converted by Stuart Thomas. Further late substitutions saw Dai Flanagan coming on for Burnett, and Kristian Baller for Pocock, as Ponty finished the game strongly going into injury time, a power shunt from the home pack resulting in a try claimed by Chris Dicomidis, and converted from a wide angle by Flanagan. The final whistle blew on what had rarely been a classic encounter, but a margin of victory of 40 pts to 15 in Ponty’s favour indicating a good afternoon’s work done, with six tries in the bag.
15.Jason Pocock (Kristian Baller) 14.Chris Clayton (Ryan Harries)13.Gavin Dacey 12.Dafydd Lockyer 11.Gareth John 10.Neil Burnett (Dai Flanagan) 9.Gareth Jones
1.Nick Eaves 2.Richard Emms (Leighton Davies) 3.Rhys James (Ian Poley) 4.Damian Welch 5.Grant Harrington (Chris Dicomidis) 6.Adam Powell (Tu Tamarua) 7.Rhys Shellard 8.Nathan Strong – cpt (Adam Powell)
“Golden Bob” man of the match - Nathan
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