Review of the 2016 - 2017 season

19.5.2017

Cup Final defeat for PontyCup Final defeat for Ponty
Cup Final defeat for Ponty

The 2016 - 2017 campaign was not the greatest for Pontypridd RFC, one which failed to yield any trophies and brought numerous problems in its wake, but still saw the club pushing close for honours.

The 'annus horribilis' will probably be best remembered for a crippling injury list that decimated the Ponty squad from pre-season onwards and even brought a few playing careers to an end. Controversy around the use of the club's new 3G pitch also cast a heavy shadow over the latter part of the campaign. All in all - a year to forget.

The mood was set as flanker Darren Waters suffered a serious knee injury in a pre-season outing against Bedford, and full back Geraint Walsh fractured a bone in his leg during the Foster's Sevens tournament.

The list of long term injury absentees grew as the season progressed, too many to catalogue in full, but including influential senior players such as captain Dafydd Lockyer, wingers Alex Webber and Chris Clayton and flanker Jake Thomas. Two of Ponty's most seasoned campaigners, prop Pat Palmer and no8 Dan Godfrey had to concede their playing careers to serious injury.

As the league campaign got underway Ponty made a bright start with away wins at Bedwas and Llanelli before suffering a home defeat against valleys rivals Merthyr in the first game on the newly laid artificial surface at Sardis Road. Consistency was hard to achieve as the season progressed, both in the Premiership and in the Foster's Challenge Cup - in which Ponty failed to progress from the pool stage, pitted against Merthyr, Ebbw Vale and Bargoed.

There were high points, such as a 22pts to 11 home win over table toppers Aberavon and a thrilling 19pts to 23 away win in the Christmas derby against Cardiff. There were also many lows as Ponty failed to find consistency in selection and in achieving results, with a high turnover of players used.

The New Year came in with a heavy defeat away to RGC, but Ponty still qualifying to the top eight tier of a league structure that was experimentally split mid-season.

Progress was also made in the National Cup with wins away at Cardiff Met and at home to Newport. Injuries however continued to blight the Ponty squad, and a long period ensuing without any home games following the league split, causing increased frustration for the club's ever loyal support base.

A run of four straight defeats in the league brought the campaign to an early close for Ponty, failing to make the Play-Off cut for the first time in seven years.

There had been some hope of cup glory following a close fought semi final win over Cross Keys, but the ultimate showdown against RGC at the Principality Stadium on Easter Sunday proving a bridge too far for a beleaguered Ponty squad who battled bravely but went down to a 11pts to 15 defeat.

The end of a disappointing campaign was overshadowed by controversy over the use of the Sardis Road pitch, which was taken out of use following complaints from players and management of Merthyr RFC. The spotlight of an unsympathetic mainstream media was focussed on Pontypridd RFC for all the wrong reasons.

Thus ended a forgettable season for Pontypridd RFC, yet one which had seen the club contest a National Cup Final and battled close for a play-off place in the newly structured Premiership. 

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