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Pontypridd 38 vs Bargoed 21

Thu 24th August, 19:15, Sardis Road
Pre-season Friendly

Pontypridd RFC signed off their 2023/24 pre-season preparations with a win against a spirited Bargoed side at Sardis Road.

The visitors kicked the match off and started well winning an early penalty which they kicked into touch deep into Ponty territory. Ponty won the lineout, but a couple of minutes later Bargoed burrowed over the line for a try. The referee initially awarded the score but then changed his mind and brought play back for a Bargoed penalty. The away side elected to take the scrum under the Ponty posts, but good Ponty defence repelled waves of early Bargoed attacks and eventually the home side held the ball up over the line which allowed them to clear via a goal-line drop-out.

Despite the early pressure from the away side it was Ponty that got the first points of the evening through stalwart-winger Dale Stuckey. Attacking from deep inside their own half, Stuckey was fed on his familiar left wing and he kicked through and gathered after a foot race to score in the corner. Josh Phillips missed a tough conversion but Ponty had an early 5-0 lead after 7 minutes.

A few minutes later Ponty strung together a superb piece of attacking play in open play which got the crowd on the edge of their seats – Joel Raikes went on a sniping run and he fed Joe Miles who in turn fed Aled Ward, who again fed Miles who nearly put Ward away but the ball was spilled after a Bargoed cover-tackle just inside the away side’s 22.

On the quarter of an hour mark it was openside flanker Cai James’ turn to make a rampaging break when he picked up the ball at the back of a ruck just inside the Ponty 22, burst the initial tackle and his pace propelled him up to the halfway line where he was hauled down. Ponty, intent on attacking from anywhere spun the ball right where Garyn Smith fed Liam Lloyd who himself was brought down inside the Bargoed 22. Bargoed gave as good as they got, turned the ball over and attacked. A few phases later and after being denied initially near the Ponty line, they burrowed over from close range. Josh Prosser kicked the conversion and the visitors had a 7-5 lead after 17 minutes.

Ponty thought they had regained the lead nearly straight away when some very slick handling firstly right, across the pitch, then flashed back left attacking deep towards the Pwllgwaun end put Stuckey in for his second try only for play to be brought back, the final pass adjudged to have been forward.

After 25 minutes it was the away side that extended their lead against the run of play when Ponty, trying to build play on halfway put a pass behind a dummy-ball carrier only for onrushing opposition scrum-half James Leadbeater to slap the ball upwards, gather and run in from 45 metres to score. Prosser added the extras for a 14-5 Bargoed lead.

The home side reduced the deficit straight from the restart when they regained possession and some nice hands put centre Ryan Wilkins in for a try. Phillips knocked over a simple extra two points.

Over the next ten minutes of play Pontypridd continued to pressurise the Bargoed line, mainly through the pack in the form of lineouts and scrums, but huge credit to Bargoed who continued to successfully throw themselves in the way of everything Ponty had in their armoury and kept the home side at bay.

After the aforementioned ten minutes of pressure, the damn finally broke when Garyn Smith crashed over for a try from close range following a Ponty lineout deep inside Bargoed territory.

Smith was unfortunately injured in the process of scoring his try and was replaced by Will Keep. It didn’t take long for Keep to make his mark on the match – firstly a line-break in midfield put Bargoed on the backfoot, and then a couple of phases later a perfectly judged threaded kick through from Keep was gathered by McCauley Rowley to score in the right hand corner. The conversion was missed and the referee blew for half time.

HALF TIME – Pontypridd 24-14 Bargoed

Pontypridd kicked off the second half, won an early penalty and kicked to touch in the corner. From the lineout drive Ponty were awarded another penalty and this time elected to take the scrum around 5 metres out from the Bargoed try line. A powerful scrum set-piece looked to have set Joe Miles up for an easy try at the base but the referee lost patience and awarded Pontypridd the penalty-try -31-14 to the Valley Commandos.

Bargoed didn’t let their heads go down and all credit to them less than 5 minutes later when their prop powered over for a try following a strong run in Ponty’s 22, the deficit reduced to 31-21.

54 minutes had elapsed when replacement Ponty scrum-half Harvey Nash was yellow carded for infringing near the Bargoed try line, but good defence from the 14 men kept the away side out.

As the match approached the hour mark it arguably witnessed the play of the game when an onrushing Will Keep was fed the ball, he put in a sublime no-look pass inside to Ryan Wilkins who, after a jinking run passed back to Keep who released Liam Lloyd to score. Josh Phillips kicked a superb touchline conversion to restore Ponty’s lead back to 17 points at 38-21.

There were no more points scored in the final quarter of the match but there was still plenty of pleasing aspects of play from a coaching point of view – Ponty’s ball recycling was crisp and the team’s passing was slick. The link play between forwards and backs was very efficient and at the heart of this was Ponty flanker Aled Ward who was subsequently awarded the Man of the Match award for his efforts.

The match headed towards the fulltime whistle with the majority of play taking place in the middle third of the Sardis Road pitch. An enjoyable pre-season friendly was brought to a close with both clubs taking plenty of positives out of the contest ahead of the competitive season.

FULL TIME – Pontypridd 38-21 Bargoed (24/8/2023)


15. Liam Lloyd. 14. McCauley Rowley. 13. Garyn Smith. 12. Ryan Wilkins. 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Josh Phillips. 9. Joel Raikes.

1. Morgan Bosanko. 2. Rob Jones. 3. Tom Harper. 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. Macauley Cook. 6. Aled Ward. 7. Cai James. 8. Joe Miles.

Subs*: 16. Kian Mattravers. 17. Curtis Greenslade. 18. Garyn Daniel. 19. Mitch Barnard. 20. Mason Hughes. 21. Sion Parry. 22. Harvey Nash. 23. Ceri Morris. 24. Will Keep. 25. Max Rivers. 26. Iestyn Griffiths. 27. Sam Hayman. 28. Alex Lloyd

*All substitutes came on during the match

Tries: Dale Stuckey, Ryan Wilkins, Garyn Smith, McCauley Rowley, Penalty-try, Liam Lloyd

Conversions: Josh Phillips x 3

Yellow Card: Harvey Nash


15. Dylan Williams. 14. Ashley Norton. 13. Ollie Andrews. 12. Callum Jones. 11. Adam Jones. 10. Josh Prosser. 9. James Leadbeater.

1. Kieran Brown. 2. Morgan Edwards. 3. Keegan Bale. 4. Ashley Gibson. 5. James Locke. 6. Keaton Davies. 7. Callum Merrick. 8. Tom Rice

Subs: 16. Ben Statton. 17. Aaron Elliot. 18. Ali Gardner-Key. 19. Rhodri Evans. 20. Owain Cooper. 21. Logan Franklin. 22. Matthew Lewis. 23. Ryan Price. 24. Morgan Powell. 25. Dai Evans. 26. Rhys Thomas

Tries: 3 x tries

Conversions: 3 x conversions

Man of the Match: Aled Ward