Here’s a recipe for you: Wales’ top two clubs, a huge crowd, blizzards tumbling down from Powys and the temperature flirting – only flirting, mind you – with the positive part of the Celsius scale. What more could you possibly want? Well, an Ebbw win would have been nice, of course, but this was still a pulsating, physical battle that kept supporters of both sides enthralled throughout.
Despite three changes to the pack before kick off, Ebbw made all the early running and barely two minutes had gone when Adam Jones landed a penalty.
Ebbw’s new-look back row was very prominent ,and the pack’s dominance of the early scrums led to the first try of the game: with Ponty retreating, Rhys Downes chipped through and Owen Williams gathered the bouncing ball to score wide out on the left. Adam Jones, kicking for the first time this season, converted superbly to give the Steelmen a 10-0 lead.
Ponty were back in the match before half time, when Jake Thomas was the beneficiary of an exemplary catch and drive. Simon Humberstone converted. Although the half ended with Ebbw attacking deep in Ponty’s 22m area, they failed to score and the score was 10-7 at the interval.
Pontypridd took advantage of the very strong wind from Beaufort in the second half and pegged the Steelmen back from kick-off. A Humberstone penalty levelled the scores and the visitors’ outside half was on target again to convert Dale Stuckey’s try five minutes later, giving his team a 17-10 advantage. Ebbw were now playing into the teeth of a blizzard. Ponty looked the more likely winners at this stage, but Ebbw were far from out of the contest, with the forwards taking the game to Pontypridd and winning a scrum penalty in their 22. Unfortunately, Adam Jones pulled his kick wide and the gap stayed at 7 points until, after sustained pressure, Ponty managed to work an overlap for Dan Godfrey to score.
Ebbw finished strongly, battering the Ponty defence, but it held firm and the game ended 22-10 to Pontypridd, worthy winners of a great contest.
Mathew Williams and Gareth Rusby-Davies had to leave the field with injuries; best wishes to both for swift recoveries.
Finally, a word of thanks to referee Ian Davies who had to run this without the benefit of assistant referees, a fact lost on some supporters who questioned why the ‘linesmen’ weren’t pointing out various offences. “They’re all offside, linesman. You don’t know the rules!” shouted one irate gent. “Laws!” came the loud response.
Dan Haymond, Wes Cunliffe, Adam Jones, Carl Meyer, Owen Williams; Iain Smerdon, Rhys Downes; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Rob Sevenoaks; Damien Hudd (Capt), Josh Jacas; Rhys Clarke, Gareth Rusby-Davies, Lewis Young. Bench: Rhys Francis, Gethin Robinson, John Lavender, Kier Hughes, Dai Jones, Jordan Howells, Dai Langdon, Tom James.
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