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RGC 27 vs Pontypridd 29

Sat 13th April, 14:30, Parc Eirias
Indigo Premiership

Two late tries within the space of two minutes from Ryan Wilkins and Curtis Greenslade saw Pontypridd roar back and claim a bonus-point win against RGC at Parc Eirias. The result in Colwyn Bay sees Ponty claim a season’s double over the Gogs in the league.

Ben Burnell kicked the match off with Ponty playing into the wind in the first half, the Valley Commandos won an early penalty at the scrum and kicked to touch. A good attack by Ponty was halted when RGC intercepted the ball and worked their way up to halfway only for a superb turnover at the breakdown from Cai James to win the ball back. With the possession back in their hands Pontypridd attacked down the right through Liam Lloyd but the chance was thwarted, but Ponty weren’t to be denied. A few phases later the ball was spun left and some superb handling from Ben Burnell to Garyn Smith, Smith passed to Josh Phillips who in turn fed Liam Lloyd who popped up down the left to score. Burnell missed a difficult conversion kicking into the wind but Ponty had an early 5-0 lead after 7 minutes.

After the restart it was RGC that enjoyed the next passage of territory and possession. Ponty did get their hands back on the ball but the aforementioned wind was making exiting extremely difficult and Harvey Nash saw his box-kick drift out on the full just outside the 22. RGC fed into the scrum and some strong Ponty defence initially forced RGC back up the pitch before they were penalised for offside. RGC fullback Sam Earl-Jones kicked the penalty from 40 metres and the home side were on the scoreboard 3-5 after quarter of an hour.

A few minutes later there was an off-the-ball flashpoint which saw both no.4’s Kristian Parker and Billy McQueeney receive yellow cards from referee Elgan Williams. RGC were awarded the penalty as a result of the incident, but Sam Earl-Jones pushed his attempt wide of the posts.

Ponty’s lucky escape of nearly falling behind didn’t last long when a few minutes later, a misjudged lineout on their own 22 handed RGC possession and a few phases later it cost them when prop Gareth Parry bundled his way over from close range. Sam Earl-Jones kicked the conversion and the home side led 10-5 after 21 minutes.

It didn’t take long for Pontypridd to respond and they got themselves back onto the front immediately. Ben Burnell hit a good hard line with the ball in hand, carried, fed Garyn Smith and Smith gave the try scoring pass to Ryan Wilkins who scored under the posts. Burnell added the extra two points from the tee and Ponty were back in the lead 12-10 after 24 minutes.

Both sides had half-chances in the next ten minutes or so, Ponty’s best was through a Tom Edwards run but the winger was tackled into touch in the RGC 22. This was just before RGC turned down a kickable 3-points to kick into the corner. They won the lineout but a knock-on from Gogs’ scrum half Efan Jones relieved the pressure from a Ponty point of view.

With the first half drawing to a close Pontypridd nearly scored a superb try when from a scrum set-piece in their own half, they spun the ball left and Burnell spotted a gap and went through it, he passed to the supporting Mitch Barnard who in turn fed Sion Parry. With players in support Parry offloaded but the ball was knocked backwards in desperation by an RGC hand, and they secured possession and hammered a kick down field. The ball swirled in the wind and evaded Josh Phillips who unluckily lost his footing, but he eventually gathered near Ponty’s tryline and kicked the ball out. RGC now found themselves with a lineout deep in the Ponty 22, they secured possession and it was all hands to the pumps in first half stoppage time. Superb rolling-maul defence foiled RGC’s attempts to regain the lead and Pontypridd headed into the break ahead by two points.

HALF TIME – RGC 10-12 Pontypridd

RGC kicked the second half off and they were awarded an early penalty following a Ponty high tackle. They kicked into the corner, secured the lineout ball and went through multiple phases but were repelled by strong Ponty defence. The home side were then awarded a scrum 10 metres from Ponty’s tryline and that scrum award turned into a full penalty award and Sam Earl-Jones nudged the Gogs back into the lead by 13 points to 12 after 46 minutes.

The hosts’ one point lead immediately became an eight point lead. Ponty restarted following the prior penalty-goal and shortly after they threw into a lineout on halfway. The lineout was overthrown and RGC gathered the ball, they attacked and a missed tackle allowed winger Rhys Tudor to run in and score. Earl-Jones’ simple conversion gave the hosts a two-score lead at 20-12 after 48 minutes.

Ponty narrowed the deficit in the 55th minute through a Sion Parry try after turning down a three-pointer of their own, and it paid off. Ben Burnell nudged the ball into the corner, Pontypridd won their lineout ball and all but one of the XV players in the team joined to add their weight to the rolling maul and Parry scored. Burnell hit the outside of the post with the conversion, 20-17 to RGC.

Back in the contest, Ponty then turned into their own worst enemies when they made a mess of the restart, gifting RGC a penalty. The home side tapped quickly and fed left winger Sam Stoddard but he was bundled into touch deep in Ponty territory. A misplaced throw from the lineout gave RGC a put in at the scrum and the ball was then fed to Gogs’ skipper Afon Bagshaw and he crossed for the home side’s third try of the contest. Earl-Jones’ conversion extended the hosts’ lead to ten points – 27-17 after an hour’s play.

Despite both the deficit on the scoreboard and the minutes ticking away Pontypridd worked hard to build their way back into match in terms of territory and possession. Their patient build up nearly yielded a try in the 65th minute when another good break from Burnell, playing flat to the line and he fed the supporting Sion Parry but his offload couldn’t quite find the hands of the supporting Harvey Nash and the chance went begging.

On the 70th minute mark Ponty were awarded a penalty on halfway and a good touch-finder from Joseph Scrivens gave the Valley Commandos field position in RGC’s 22. Ponty secured the lineout ball, formed a rolling maul and from the back of that a short ball was given to Ryan Wilkins, who fed Garyn Smith, Smith linked back with Wilkins and Ponty’s inside centre crashed over for his second try of the afternoon. Scrivens’ successful conversion reduced Pontypridd’s deficit to just three points.

What unfolded straight away after the previous try turned the match on its head. Shortly after the restart RGC kicked the ball through and it was fielded by Josh Phillips in Ponty’s half. Phillips went on a superb run and chipped over the top deep into RGC’s 22 and the home side had little option other than quickly gather the ball and boot it off the parc. Pontypridd won their own lineout ball and from the rolling maul Curtis Greenslade crashed over much to the jubilation of the Ponty support inside the ground.

Pontypridd were back in the lead with 5 minutes left, but with the conversion being missed the score stood at 29-27 which meant Ponty knew they could not afford to give away any penalties within kickable range in the dying minutes.

There was time left for an RGC onslaught and the closing stages were extremely cagey, with play largely taking place in the middle 20 metres of the Parc Eirias pitch. RGC were in control of possession whilst Ponty knew that squeaky clean discipline and good defence would win the day. The latter proved to be case when multiple Gog phases couldn’t penetrate the Valley Commandos defence, the dice was rolled and a chip over the top by RGC was fielded and kicked out by Ponty and the full time whistle was blown.

A very good win away from home for Pontypridd RFC to finish their 2023/24 Welsh Premiership campaign on a high note.

FULL TIME – RGC 27-29 Pontypridd (13/4/2024)

Match report – Geraint Thomas


15. Josh Phillips. 14. Liam Lloyd. 13. Garyn Smith. 12. Ryan Wilkins. 11. Tom Edwards (Louis Rochefort-Shugar). 10. Ben Burnell (Joseph Scrivens). 9. Harvey Nash (Joel Raikes).

1. Ben Stephens. 2. Rob Jones (Curtis Greenslade). 3. Tom Harper (Morgan Bosanko). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. Mitch Barnard (Cally James). 6. Cai James. 7. Sion Parry. 8. Aled Ward.

Subs: 16. Curtis Greenslade. 17. Dan Cotterell. 18. Morgan Bosanko. 19. Joe Miles. 20. Cally James. 21. Joel Raikes. 22. Joseph Scrivens. 23. Louis Rochefort-Shugar.

Tries: Liam Lloyd, Ryan Wilkins x 2, Sion Parry, Curtis Greenslade

Conversions: Ben Burnell, Joseph Scrivens

Yellow Card: Kristian Parker


15. Sam Earl-Jones. 14. Rhys Tudor. 13. Harri Hughes. 12. Afon Bagshaw (c). 11. Sam Stoddard. 10. Dion Jones. 9. Efan Jones.

1. Gareth Parry. 2. Rhodri King. 3. Pedr Jones. 4. Billy McQueeney. 5. Ilan Evans. 6. Tal Taylor. 7. Charlie Probert. 8. Sam Williams.

Subs: 16. Jack Tomlinson. 17. Christian Hone. 18. Patrick Nelson. 19. Jack Davies. 20. Osian Moore. 21. Tom Ellis. 22. Carwyn Jones. 23. Dafydd Williams.

Tries: Gareth Parry, Rhys Tudor, Afon Bagshaw

Conversions: Sam Earl-Jones x 3

Penalties: Sam Earl-Jones x 2

Yellow Card: Billy McQueeney

Referee: Elgan Williams

Assistant referees: 1 – Jenny Davies, 2 – Mei Gwilym

WRU Man of the Match: Cai James