Déjà vu – second heartbreak for Ponty in as many weeks as Merthyr win the Valleys Derby at the death
Merthyr kicked the match off and it was Ponty that had the better of the opening exchanges winning a couple of early penalties, but inaccuracies at the line-out ultimately snuffed out the threat that the good field position deserved.
The first chance of points came after 11 minutes, some niggle at a line-out resulted in referee Rhys Jones awarding Ponty another penalty but Joseph Scrivens’ early effort drifted wide and the match remained scoreless.
The home side continued to press and take the game to Merthyr and were rewarded after 17 minutes when former Ponty captain Morgan Sieniawski was penalised for playing Ponty scrum-half Joel Raikes at a ruck, Joseph Scrivens slotted the resulting penalty for a 3-0 lead.
It was around the 20 minute mark when Merthyr managed their first real attack and it nearly reaped rewards when some superb running lines and offloads nearly yielded a try but last-ditch Ponty tackling forced a ball-spill with the try-line in sight.
24 minutes gone and superb work from Sion Parry at the ruck won Ponty the penalty which they kicked to touch. From the resulting line-out Ponty went through the phases and worked their way into the Merthyr 22, the Ironmen infringed again and Joseph Scrivens doubled Ponty’s lead to 6-0.
Just after half-hour, in the 33rd minute the match’s first flashpoint occurred when Merthyr winger Adam Hoskins was yellow-carded. Scrivens stepped up and knocked over a hat-trick of penalty goals.
A few minutes later Merthyr were on the board when inside-centre Josh Lewis kicked a penalty, and just before half-time he missed a long-range effort and the teams ran down the Sardis Road tunnel with Ponty 9-3 ahead
HALF TIME – Pontypridd 9-3 Merthyr
Joseph Scrivens got the second half underway and superb chase from Ponty saw them reclaim the ball before losing it in the ruck. Merthyr attacked but just when they thought they were away they were penalised for crossing and Scrivens, with nonchalance knocked over the penalty and Ponty were two scores ahead at 12-3.
On the 50 minute mark, Merthyr spilled a Ponty ‘up-and-under’ from Scrivens, Jordan Howells was on the end of a pass and after a run and chip down the right-hand side attacking the clubhouse end the ball dribbled into touch but Ponty were awarded yet another penalty for an off the ball infringement in open play – Scrivens slotted the penalty and Ponty were 15-3 ahead.
At this point Pontypridd had been by far the better team but the next 5 minutes turned the match on its head – in the 56th minute, some good pressure and patience in equal measure from the men from The Wern saw winger Sam Jones score out wide, Josh Lewis kicked the extras. Then, just 4 minutes later with Ponty attacking just outside the Merthyr 22 the other flying Ironman wing Adam Hoskins intercepted a Ponty pass and cantered in from 65+ metres, the conversion was successful and Merthyr were ahead for the first time in the match at 17-15.
The match carried on in the vein that a derby should with lots of physicality, hand-bags, niggle and good play with neither side taking a backward step – special mention for Ponty openside flanker Sion Parry who was a standout performer in the Ponty pack along with James Little and captain Kris Parker.
77 were minutes on the Sardis Road scoreboard, and the drama was just starting. Ponty were awarded another, yes another penalty just inside their own half which was out of the range of Scrivens so the home side went to the corner. Ponty were unable to capitalise and Merthyr punted the ball down-field but Ponty’s determination paid off when in the 80th minute they were awarded a penalty in kicking range and Scrivens kicked his 6th penalty-goal of the match – Ponty went 18-17 ahead and then the drama unfolded – Dale Stuckey, flying across to make a tackle slipped up for a high shot resulting in a Merthyr penalty just inside their own half. Josh Lewis was lining the potential match-winning kick up whilst Stuckey was walking to the sin-bin.
Lewis’ kick, which was a monumental effort came back off the post and Ponty cleared their lines but this was temporary respite – Merthyr were awarded another penalty, again just inside their own half and this time Lewis’ long-range effort dropped wide. Ceri Morris gathered and kicked the ball into touch but it only just landed outside the Ponty 22 which gave Merthyr another good attacking patform – a platform they took advantage of when Sam Jones crossed at the death-knell in the right-hand corner, Ponty down to 13 men as Scrivens was also sent to the bin in the preceding action. Lewis added the extras and the Ironmen headed north back up the A470 with the Valley Derby bragging rights.
FULL TIME – Pontypridd 18-24 Merthyr (12/11/2022)
15. Lloyd Rowlands (Matt Bancroft). 14. Niko Matawalu. 13. Tommy Morgan (Ceri Morris). 12. Jordan Howells. 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Joseph Scrivens. 9. Joel Raikes (Rory Harries).
1. Ben Stephens (Daf Davies). 2. Rob Jones (Nathan Huish). 3. Morgan Bosanko (Garyn Daniel). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. James Little. 6. Cally James. (Aled Ward) 7. Sion Parry. 8. Joe Miles (Cai James).
Subs: 16. Nathan Huish. 17. Daf Davies. 18. Garyn Daniel. 19. Cai James. 20. Aled Ward. 21. Rory Harries. 22. Ceri Morris. 23. Matt Bancroft
Penalties: Joseph Scrivens x 6
Yellow Cards: Dale Stuckey, Joseph Scrivens
15. Ben Jones. 14. Adam Hoskins. 13. Morgan Sieniawski. 12. Josh Lewis. 11. Sam Jones. 10. Gareth Thompson. 9. Tavis Knoyle
1. Chris Phillips. 2. Rhys Williams. 3. Rhys Lewis. 4. Lloyd Ashley (c). 5. Callum Bradbury. 6. Paddy McBride. 7. Thomas Jevons. 8. Phil Rees
Subs: 16. Dan Wall. 17. Louis Jones. 18. Jordan Rogers. 19. Tom Daley. 20. Osian Davies. 21. James Soanes. 22. Jarrod Cushion. 23. Justin James
Tries: Sam Jones x 2, Adam Hoskins
Conversions: Josh Lewis x 3
Penalties: Josh Lewis
Yellow Card: Adam Hoskins
Referee: Rhys Jones
Assistant referees: 1 – Simon Rees, 2 – Greg Morgan
Golden Bob Man of the Match: Joseph Scrivens
WRU Man of the Match: Sion Parry