Two bonus points scant consolation for Ponty as Llanelli earn dramatic late win at Sardis Road
Llanelli kicked-off the match, Ponty gathered the ball and from the first passage of play the home side were penalised for holding on. Llanelli fly-half Josh Phillips slotted the penalty-goal and the visitors had an early 3-0 lead.
Llanelli, attacking the clubhouse end of the ground in the first half, started the match really well and showed early attacking intent. Working their way up the pitch, showing patience as their attacks went side to side across the 3G, the patience paid off after 5 minutes when a familiar face to Ponty fans Jac Davies fed left-winger Ben Raivalitia to score. Phillips added the conversion to give the visitors a great start to the match.
Ponty were on the attack next when Lloyd Rowlands went on a great run but found himself hauled down close to the Llanelli try-line. From the resulting ruck Tommy Morgan was fed a crash-ball but he spilled it in contact with the line in sight.
Ponty endeavoured to get themselves back into the contest. A penalty which was kicked down-field and deliberately kept in play nearly paid off for the chasing Dale Stuckey, but Llanelli wing Iestyn Gwilliam got back to gather before Stuckey bundled him into touch. Ponty couldn’t capitalise from the resulting line-out and Llanelli cleared their lines.
A few phases later, with Ponty trying to build phases to earn field position just inside their own half, Llanelli hooker Taylor Davies intercepted a Rory Harries pass from the base of a ruck and after a run fed blindside flanker Dan Davies to canter in under the posts. With the conversion Llanelli saw themselves 17-0 up after just 13 minutes of play.
Some good Ponty defence in the next 10 minutes rebuffed Llanelli and stopped them extending their lead further. Josh Phillips missed a penalty attempt during this passage of play as well.
Still only just over a quarter of the match gone and Ponty were working hard to get themselves into the contest, on the scoreboard at least. 23 minutes had elapsed when Ponty threw into a line-out just outside the Llanelli 22, gathered, and the rolling maul had real momentum as it headed towards the Llanelli try-line. The maul broke down and Ceri Morris hit a crash-ball from the ruck and was tackled before being penalised for holding on and Llanelli cleared their lines again.
With half-time fast approaching Pontypridd won a scrum penalty and kicked to touch. This time the rolling-maul paid dividends when blood-replacement Daf Rotie was the recipient at the end of the rumble to score his first try in his second appearance for the club. Scrivens added the two-points and Ponty were on the board.
On the stroke of half-time, another penalty was awarded to Pontypridd and it was duly pumped into touch again. The line-out was secured and the forwards gave it to the backs and a lovely sweeping move from right to left, instigated by Niko Matawalu who then fed Lloyd Rowlands to score in the left-hand corner. Scrivens’ touchline conversion crashed into the post but Ponty had played themselves right back into the match as both teams disappeared down the tunnel for the half-time oranges.
HALF TIME – Pontypridd 12-17 Llanelli
Joseph Scrivens kicked the second-half off and in a reversal of the first-half, it was all-Ponty in the opening exchanges. The home side were showing patience and endeavour in equal measure with the aim of working their way further and further up field. Matawalu then made a fantastic break and he unselfishly fed the supporting Rory Harries who was tackled deep in the Llanelli 22. Tom Harper picked up the ball from the ruck and there was no way he was going to be denied as he powered over for the try. Scrivens added the extra two points and Ponty were in the lead for the first time in the match at 19-17.
On the 50-minute mark Ponty should have extended their lead further when, after Ceri Morris fed a lovely, measured grubber-kick through behind the on-rushing Llanelli defence, Lloyd Rowlands hacked on for Matawalu to get to the ball first, gather and score but in the process the ball was dislodged and the chance went begging.
In the 56th minute Joseph Scrivens kept the scoreboard ticking over when he knocked over a penalty after Llanelli were penalised for being offside, the score now 22-17 to Ponty.
Just over an hour played and Ponty’s attack was relentless and it paid off. There were numerous carries and off-loads – Tommy Morgan, Niko Matawalu and James Little amongst others all involved and it was Morgan Bosanko, who had only been on the field a few minutes who managed to get on the end of the key offload to crash over for Ponty’s fourth and bonus-point try. Scrivens kicked the conversion for a 29-17 lead.
Ponty were playing very well at this point but Llanelli, as you would expect were still showing plenty of determination to stay in the contest. But in the 67th minute Ponty were awarded a penalty and after a brief discussion Ponty captain Kris Parker pointed to the posts. Joe Scrivens stepped up but his effort was pushed wide and Ponty’s attempt to go 15 points and 3-scores clear failed and would ultimately prove costly.
With just 2 minutes left and on the back of being awarded a couple of penalties for Ponty infringing at a maul, Llanelli Skipper Nathan Hart scored and Josh Phillips slotted the conversion with James Little in the sin-bin for Ponty and the score was 29-24 to the home side.
Ponty restarted and the 80 minutes were up. There was a mix-up in loose play on half-way from Ponty, the ball spilled forward and a Ponty player in front of the ball-spill touched it resulting in a Llanelli penalty for offside. Llanelli kicked to touch and from the line-out hooker Ryan Spriggs was binned by referee Stephen Allsop and Ponty found themselves down to 13 men. Llanelli tapped the penalty and after a few carries and phases they scored from close range to level at 29-all. Josh Phillips stepped up to knock over the conversion which gave Llanelli a dramatic 31-29 win.
FULL TIME – Pontypridd 29-31 Llanelli (29/10/2022)
15. Lloyd Rowlands (Matt Bancroft). 14. Niko Matawalu. 13. Tommy Morgan. 12. Ceri Morris (Jordan Howells). 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Joseph Scrivens. 9. Rory Harries (Joel Raikes)
1. Ben Stephens (Garyn Daniel). 2. Nathan Huish (Ryan Spriggs). 3. Tom Harper (Morgan Bosanko). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. James Little. 6. Aled Ward (Mitch Barnard). 7. Cally James (Daf Rotie). 8. Joe Miles
Subs: 16. Ryan Spriggs. 17. Morgan Bosanko. 18. Garyn Daniel. 19. Mitch Barnard. 20. Daf Rotie. 21. Joel Raikes. 22. Jordan Howells. 23. Matt Bancroft
Tries: Daf Rotie, Lloyd Rowlands, Tom Harper, Morgan Bosanko
Conversions: Scrivens x 3
15. Jac Davies. 14. Iestyn Gwilliam. 13. Eddie James. 12. Jack Price. 11. Ben Raivalitia. 10. Josh Phillips. 9. Harri Williams
1. Sam O’Connor. 2. Taylor Davies. 3. Alex Jeffries. 4. Christian Long (c). 5. Joe Greaves. 6. Dan Davis. 7. Luca Giannini. 8. Nathan Hart
Subs: 16. Rhys Cherry. 17. Rhys Davies. 18. Ben Watson. 19. Tom Phillips. 20. Jacob Lewis. 21. Ben Williams. 22. Gareth George. 23. Llew Smith
Tries: Ben Raivalitia, Dan Davies, Nathan Hart, TBC
Conversions: Josh Phillips x 4
Penalty: Josh Phillips
Referee: Stephen Allsop
Assistant referees: 1 – Jason Bessant, 2 – Richard Brace
Golden Bob Man of the Match: Cally James
WRU Man of the Match: Lloyd Rowlands