The Pontypridd squad and trialists were thoroughly tested in this interesting pre-season friendly, although the brave Ynysybwl side found the going pretty tough at times.
The first ten minutes of the contest was a mid field ruck and maul fest, interspersed with kicks to one team or the other’s 22, and with both sides feeling out the oppositions strengths and weaknesses. After 10 minutes play Ponty had a scrum under the Bwl posts which was lost and was kicked down field by Ynysybwl, the kick was caught infield and passed through 2 pairs of hands before being kicked ahead for Dan Hitchings (who had just come on for Dorian Thomas) to swoop on the ball and score half way out on the Murphys Enclosure side. The try was converted by Kristian Baller. (7 – 0)
The first try was quickly followed by a Rees Downes try following a knock on by the Bwl, the Ponty scrum half burrowing his way over near the posts, again converted by Kristian Baller (14 – 0).
The Third and Fourth Ponty tries came either side of the 25 minute mark. Try three was scored following a ruck on the Ynysybwsl 22 with a loop movement which delivered the ball to Matthew Hutchings, who ran the 20 metres to score out wide on the stand side (19 – 0). Try four followed shortly after with a score by Paul Matthews, following a loose ball squirting uncontrolled from the side of the Ynysybwl scrum. This try was converted by Neil Burnett (26 – 0).
The last Ponty try from an Ynysybwl mistake seemed to have goaded the Ynysybwl forwards, who had a mass change of personnel which became an announcers nightmare! Shirt numbers appeared which were not listed and at one time the Bwl had two 5’s, two 6’s, and two 9’s. Whoever was on the pitch for Ynysybwl, they fought their way into the Ponty 22 and only stout defence by the home side forced them into touch just short of the try line. The resulting line out was lost and the Bwl by a number of pick and drive moves advanced to the shadows of the Ponty posts, finally scoring 15 metres in on the Murphys’ enclosure side. Apologies to the reader - all that can be said is the try was scored by the Ynysybwl 21 and converted by Nathan Ellis (26 – 7).
Ponty roared back into the Ynysybwl half following the kick off with a handling move which swept straight through centre field with Geraint Lewis featuring twice. It resulted in a Geraint Lewis try which went unconverted (31 – 7). Then. just prior to half time a 50 meter forward passing movement again with Geraint Lewis to the fore, was rounded off by that well known sprinter Ryan Harford, who dotted down after a 2 metre (soon to be 22 metre) run in. In fairness to Ryan, for a prop to be backing up that quickly deserved the score! The try was converted by Kristian Baller (38 -7).
The Second half started with mass changes in the Ponty ranks, with only Geraint Lewis and Dan Hitchings remaining from the first half team. Both were to leave the field later on in the half so the side was totally changed eventually. These changes would usually result in a loss of continuity in a side, but not Ponty on this night.
Probably the best try of the night was scored in the 7th minute of this half. Ponty had a scrum on the Ynysybwl 10 metre line and Tom Dickens fed Dylan Jones. After gaining about 5 meters, he fed Dan Hitchings, who sped past two flat footed defenders showing them the inside break and veering out to his wing to score without a hand laid on him! Neil Burnett converted from way out wide (45 – 7).
For the next 10 minutes Ponty were rampant, and a move from half way to the line involving forwards and backs led to a Dylan Jones try which was unconverted (50 – 7).
Back came the Bwl with forward drives and ruck ball after ruck ball but their efforts kept being thwarted by silly handling errors or chip kicks that did not give them the luck of the bounce. On 17 minutes a little gem of a break out from a scrum on the stand side by Kristian Baller saw him scamper 45 metres to the line with defenders trying to cut him off but getting nowhere near the tackle. You can’t beat genuine pace! (57 – 7).
Ponty’s final try was a scored by Andrew Jenkins, who picked up the ball following a turnover close to the Bwl line. A swerve and a roll away from a tackle saw him over mid way out, and the try was converted by Kristian Baller (64 – 7). The final 10 minutes were all Ynysybwl pressure but try as they may they could not force a final consolation score.
The Ynysybwl side fought hard (and fairly) all night, and clearly enjoyed another appearance at Sardis Road. Pontypridd had another good workout to help the Coaches pick their 32 for the first league game on 1st September.
First Half Team 1. Stuart Williams 2. Rhys Williams. 3. Ryan Harford 4. Anthony Meads 5. Grant Harrington, 6. Hywel Stoddard, 7. Geraint Lewis, 8. Nathan Strong, 9. Rhys Downs, 10. Neil Burnett, 11. Gavin Close, 12. Paul Matthews, 13 Tristan Lazarus, 14. Dorian Thomas 15. Adam Thomas and Matthew Hutchings.
Second Half Team 1. Nick Eaves, 2. Craig Evans and Lee Pierce, 3. Sam Hobbs, 4. Ryan Savage, 5. Chis Dicomedis, 6. Lee Evans, 7, Justin Jones, 8 Geraint Lewis, 9. Tom Dickens, 10. Dylan Jones, 11. Kristian Baller, 12. Matthew Smith, 13. Gavin Dacey, 14. Daniel Hitchings, 15. Rhys King.
Starting XV 1. O. Cotton (later replaced by G.Ward), 2. B Hammond (later replaced by D Baish) 3. D Davies (later replaced by A Lloyd, 4. G Jones (later replaced A Davies) 5. A. Freeman, 6 N. Griff (later replaced by J. Pugh), 7. J. Rees (later replaced by J. Thomas), 8. R. Lloyd (later replaced by S, Wigfall), 9. Hywel Davies (later replaced by G. Williams and then by A Williams), 10. Nathan Ellis (later replaced by R. Tibbs), 11. Stuart Pardoe, 12. Shaune Ireland, 13. Mark McGrail (later replaced by J. Read), 14. Lee Lewis, 15. Richard Martin (later replaced by L. Ryan.)