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Swansea 45 vs Pontypridd 22

Sat 1st October, 14:30, St. Helen's Rugby and Cricket Ground
Indigo Premiership

Swansea kicked the match off and had the advantage of a firm breeze whipping up off the sea in the nearby bay at their backs.

The home side started the match well but excellent work by Cally James at an early breakdown earned Ponty a penalty.

3 minutes in and a big shove from a strong Ponty scrum allowed the backs to work the ball into midfield, a good run from Tommy Morgan was thwarted when he was hauled down. From the resulting ruck the ball was passed back inside but was spilled forward and Swansea had the scrum on their own 22. From that scrum the Swansea backs broke through a huge hole and fly-half Dan Edwards sprinted in unopposed from 40 metres. Cai Evans added an easy conversion for 7-0.

10 minutes into the match and Swansea continued to attack – spinning the ball both ways trying to exploit gaps in the Ponty defence but a powerful hit from Ponty full-back Matt Bancroft knocked the Swansea attacker into touch. The respite for Ponty was only short-lived, the All Whites wearing a commemorative purple jersey to mark their 150-year anniversary had their second try 11 minutes into the match when Dan Edwards, again involved, fed left winger Harri Houston to dot down. Cai Evans kicked the conversion and it was 14-0.

A few minutes later Ponty were back in the game. 13 minutes had elapsed when a solid scrum from the away side gave Joe Miles the platform to put in a now customary strong carry but the ball was eventually spilled, but play was brought back for an offside infringement. Ponty kicked the penalty into touch and Aled Ward was the beneficiary at the back of a powerful rolling-maul and Ponty were on the scoreboard. Scrivens’ conversion drifted wide into the wind and the score was 14-5 after quarter of an hour.

23 minutes were on the clock when Swansea nudged further ahead 17-5 thanks to a Cai Evans penalty. This was just after Morgan Sieniawski had replaced the injured Cally James.

Both sides took the match to each other in the next 10-minute passage of play. In the 32nd minute Ponty earned yet another penalty from the scrum set-piece and attacked when Matawalu fed Morgan but Swansea snuffed out the danger. This was short-lived when after 35 minutes another huge shunt in the scrum allowed Sieniawski to feed scrum-half Harries to score Ponty’s second try. Scrivens missed another tough conversion and the score stood at 17-10 when referee Mr. Ian Davies blew for half-time.

HALF TIME – Swansea 17-10 Pontypridd

Ponty started the second half in fifth gear – Sieniawski went on a barnstorming run not long after Scrivens had restarted the match – his long, side-stepping foray into Swansea territory led to an offload to Tommy Morgan but Morgan spilled the ball after a great Swansea cover tackle – no points to show for a threatening attack but a great start to the half none the less.

It didn’t take long for Ponty to make their strong start to the second-half count when, after 46 minutes they were awarded a penalty-try for more dominance at the scrum.

The score stood at 17-17 and Ponty had their tails up. The away side, now in the ascendency were attacking at will but just could not find the killer final pass that their endeavour deserved. Firstly, Tommy Morgan made yet another good break and fed Niko Matawalu down the right but the Fijian flyer was tackled. A few phases later the ball was spun left and Ponty looked like for all money they would score but full-back Matt Bancroft was hauled down with the try-line in sight.

With just over an hour played and the score still locked at 17-points-apiece, Ponty’s failure to capitalise on their chances were punished by the home side during a 15-minute blitz – livewire openside Harri Deaves bagged himself two tries before right-winger Iestyn Hopkins crashed over and with little over 5 minutes left Swansea found themselves with an unassailable 38-17 lead.

Pontypridd ensured they’d be heading back to Sardis Road with something when Fiji international Niko Matawalu finished superbly for Ponty’s 4th, and bonus point try but Swansea had the final say when right wing Iestyn Hopkins crossed for his second to put the lid on the win for the home side.

FULL TIME – Swansea 45-22 Pontypridd (1/10/2022)

Pontypridd –

15. Matt Bancroft (Ewan Skuse). 14. Niko Matawalu. 13. Tommy Morgan. 12. Jordan Howells (Ceri Morris). 11. Dale Stuckey. 10. Joseph Scrivens. 9. Rory Harries (Joel Raikes).

1. Ben Stephens (Garyn Daniel). 2. Rob Jones (Nathan Huish). 3. Tom Harper (Morgan Bosanko). 4. Kristian Parker (c). 5. James Little (Chris Dicomidis). 6. Aled Ward. 7. Cally James (Morgan Sieniawski). 8. Joe Miles

Subs: 16. Nathan Huish. 17. Garyn Daniel. 18. Morgan Bosanko. 19. Chris Dicomidis. 20. Morgan Sieniawski. 21. Joel Raikes. 22. Ceri Morris. 23. Ewan Skuse

Tries: Aled Ward, Rory Harries, penalty-try, Niko Matawalu

Swansea –

15. Cai Evans. 14. Iestyn Hopkins. 13. Tom Florence. 12. Luke Scully. 11. Harri Houston. 10. Dan Edwards. 9. Gareth J. Rees

1. Cameron Jones. 2. Owen Thomas. 3. Richard Murphy. 4. Huw Sutton. 5. Lewis Jones. 6. Lewis Marsh. 7. Harri Deaves. 8. Callum Bowden (c)

Subs: 16. Garan Williams. 17. Freddie Chapman. 18. Scott Jenkins. 19. Liam Edwards. 20. Morgan Morse. 21. Harvey Nash. 22. Osian Knott. 23. Hanno Dirksen

Tries: Dan Edwards, Harri Houston, Harri Deaves x 2, Iestyn Hopkins x 2

Conversions: Cai Evans x 6

Penalty: Cai Evans

Referee: Ian Davies

Assistant referees: 1 – Elliot Mayor, 2 – Chris Oliver

WRU Man of the Match: Tom Harper