Match Report – Pontypridd v Bridgend
It was only the third week of the season, still in September yet Pontypridd and Bridgend found themselves playing in the Welsh Cup, albeit under a new format.
Bridgend started the match the better side and kept the ball well in the opening exchanges – that was until Cai James stole superb ball at the breakdown, Tommy Morgan made a good break before Cai James got involved in the play again and offloaded the ball in the tackle near the touchline and the loose ball ricocheted into touch off a Bridgend player. Ponty won the lineout and went through some phases in midfield, the ball was spilled and Bridgend had the put in at the scrum in their own 22. From the Ravens scrum, Ponty won the penalty, kicked to the corner and after a few phases from the lineout Skipper Kris Parker crashed over from a rolling maul. Jake Lloyd missed the extras but Ponty had an early 5-0 lead after 6 minutes.
It wasn’t long until Bridgend had their first points of the match, 10 minutes had elapsed when the Ravens were attacking and Ponty were penalised for tackling a supporting runner without the ball. Bridge fly-half Luke Price slotted the resulting penalty.
Ponty showed their attacking intent again and after 12 minutes captain Parker hit a great angle, breached the Bridgend gain-line and was through – a fantastic cover tackle from an oncoming Bridgend back forced him to offload to the supporting Joel Raikes but Raikes couldn’t gather cleanly and the try went begging.
18 were minutes on the clock at this point and Bridgend were awarded a penalty by referee Mr Ian Davies after what looked like a minor scuffle in front of the Grandstand. Luke Price stepped up and doubled Bridgend’s lead 6-5 from the tee – a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the match.
Pontypridd then enjoyed a decent period of territory and possession but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. 25 minutes were on the clock when Niko Matawalu – with a piece of play any openside flanker would be proud of – won the ball at the breakdown and from the turnover Ponty kicked into Bridgend territory. The lineout was overthrown by the Ravens and after a few phases Ponty attacked and Chad Davies, making his debut on the right wing had a barnstorming run down the line but couldn’t feed the supporting Matawalu who was steaming up outside him – another first half chance went begging for the home side.
Nearly half an hour on the clock and the visitors made the home side pay for their missed opportunities. A good break by Bridgend down the left, attacking the clubhouse end of the ground was foiled by an excellent James Little tackle after the ball was passed back inside. From the resulting phases of play right winger Caine Woolerton scored in the right hand corner, Price added the extras and the visitors had a two score lead at 13-5.
Then just prior to half-time Bridgend extended their lead when blindside flanker Aled Evans burrowed over from close range after some good work from the visiting pack. Price missed the extras but Bridgend still ran down the tunnel at half-time with an 18-5 lead.
HALF TIME – Pontypridd 5-18 Bridgend
Ponty made some tactical and personnel changes at half time – Dale Stuckey came on for Jake Lloyd resulting in Matawalu moving to 10. Lloyd Rowlands moved to fullback whilst Stuckey took his usual slot on the left-wing.
The above mentioned changes nearly paid off immediately when Stuckey broke down the left-hand side, grubbered through and forced Bridgend to kick the ball out deep in their territory which gave Ponty a good platform. Danger over, but not for long – a few phases after the lineout Joe Miles scored from close range, Stuckey added the extras and Ponty were back in the match albeit trailing 12-18.
There was a buzz around Sardis Road at being back in the match, but this was dealt a blow when Bridge scrum-half Chris Williams scored almost immediately after Ponty’s try. Luke Price added the extras and the visitors’ two-score lead was restored at 25-12.
Ponty, now on the attack with Matawalu pulling the strings at 10, and trying to get themselves back into the cup tie were dealt another blow when from a good attacking move a loose, spilled ball a few metres out from the Bridgend try-line resulted in fullback Edd Howley gathering and running the length of the Sardis 3G to touchdown. The extras were missed, but the score was 12-30 in favour of the away side.
On the hour mark Ponty started ringing the changes – Jordan Howells in-particular making a big impact in the centre giving the home side real impetus and go-forward.
Time was running out and at this point there was only 2 minutes left on the clock and Ponty were awarded a penalty-try – attacking the Bridgend try-line Bowen Davies deliberately knocked-on, yellow card shown and the score was 19-30.
As the match entered injury-time, the drama was only just starting – Ponty bagged themselves another try – a well taken, jinking effort by new signing Tommy Morgan against his old club reduced the arrears further. Dale Stuckey slotted the conversion and from being dead and buried Pontypridd had brought the score back to 26-30 and there was still time left.
Ponty gained clean possession from the proceeding restart and attacked down field – a good attacking platform inside the Bridgend 22 ensued, Ponty secured good clean ball but Matawalu’s cross-field kick went agonisingly dead with two team-mates waiting for the ball to bounce into their grasps.
Drama? It kept coming – 87 minutes now on the clock when Bridgend kicked the resulting 22 metre drop-out dead – scrum to Ponty on the Bridge 22. The home side couldn’t capitalise on the last chance awarded to them when the ball was spilled forward and the Ravens won the cup tie by 30 points to 26.
FULL TIME – Pontypridd 26-30 Bridgend (17/9/2022)
15. Niko Matawalu. 14. Chad Davies. 13. Garyn Payne (Jordan Howells). 12. Tommy Morgan. 11. Lloyd Rowlands. 10. Jake Lloyd (Dale Stuckey). 9. Joel Raikes (Rory Harries).
1. Tom Devine (Ben Stephens). 2. Ryan Spriggs (Nathan Huish). 3. Tom Harper (Garyn Daniel). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. James Little (Chris Dicomidis). 6. Cai James (Aled Ward). 7. Sion Parry. 8. Joe Miles
Subs: 16. Nathan Huish. 17. Ben Stephens. 18. Garyn Daniel. 19. Chris Dicomidis. 20. Aled Ward. 21. Rory Harries. 22. Dale Stuckey. 23. Jordan Howells
Tries: Parker, Miles, penalty-try, Morgan
Conversions: Stuckey x 2
15. Edd Howley. 14. Caine Woolerton. 13. Joseph Gatt. 12. Iwan Griffith. 11. Mike Powell. 10. Luke Price. 9. Chris Williams
1. Harry Olding. 2. Evan Yardley. 3. Liam Tobias. 4. Hemi Barnes. 5. Jack Pope. 6. Aled Evans. 7. Zac O’Driscoll (c). 8. Jordan Collier
Subs: 16. Gareth Harvey. 17. Rhodri Apsee. 18. Christian Brooke. 19. Bowen Davies. 20. Dafi Davies. 21. Dylan Davies. 22. Paul Short. 23. Jamie Murphy
Tries: Woolerton, Evans, Williams, Howley
Conversions: Price x 2
Penalties: Price x 2
Referee: Ian Davies
Assistant referees: 1 – Anthony Price, 2 – Darren Randall
Golden Bob MOTM: Sion Parry
WRU Man of the Match: Joe Miles