Pontypridd managed to hold out in the final stages to defeat a gutsy Swansea side by 30 points to 26. It all looked plain sailing for the Sardis Road outfit with just twenty minutes remaining, but the Whites’ “never say die” attitude ensured the large crowd were treated to a nail biting finale. With the Swansea pack dominating, they were let down by poor tackling and ball handling skills.
Pontypridd enjoyed a dream start to the match as Wayne Evans and Matthew Nuthall orchestrated a superb break out of defence which culminated in prop Scott Roberts racing clear to score under the posts. Fly half Dai Flanagan converted. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors soon after as Wayne Evans went over for a solo try after dummying his way past the watching Swansea defence. Flanagan converted.
Morgan Stoddart threatened another break away, but Nicky Jones ripped the ball clean from the full back and nearly sent in Nicky Thomas for a try but he was unable to release the scoring pass. However, the Whites scored their first try through Darren Pittard after he showed superb alertness by taking a quick tap penalty from the twenty-two and squeezing over the line. Stuart Thomas converted.
Pontypridd should have scored a third try but two crucial last ditch tackles by Nicky Thomas kept Swansea in the game. With the defending Whites unable to clear, Flanagan was able to pop over an easy penalty after the pack killed the ball. He extended the lead to 20-7 at half time with another three points, as prop Lee May was yellow carded for persistent offside.
Half-Time:- Pontypridd 20 Swansea 7
Pontypridd began the second half determined to make the most of the one-man advantage and were unlucky not to score after breaks by Nuthall and Paul Matthews. However they were soon rewarded as Flanagan kicked three points after the Swansea defence killed the ball on the floor.
With Swansea sixteen points behind, Stuart Thomas opted for touch from a penalty and it sparked a series of attacks with hooker Leighton Davies sin-binned after preventing the quick release in a dangerous position. Swansea again went for a lineout and with Davies off the field, prop Tim Evans was driven over for a try. Stuart Thomas missed the conversion.
As the Whites began to dominate the match, mistakes crept into their ranks with Nicky Thomas guilty of dropping a pass in an attacking position. David Watts also made a strong break but the ball was lost by the supporting Tim Evans.
Former Pontypridd flanker Nick Kelly scored a third Swansea try by crashing over after an initial peel from the scrum by Steffan Edwards. Stuart Thomas converted. With Swansea hunting a try that would bring them victory, the home side had other ideas as Adam Powell caught the defence napping and raced in at the corner after stealing possession from a scrum. Flanagan converted from out wide.
Swansea struck back immediately though as Watts fed Nicky Jones for a try after the pack dominated a scrum. Stuart Thomas converted to set up a thrilling last few minutes. The Whites threw all their resources at the Pontypridd line but were unable to break through. The closest they came was when Tim Evans dropped the ball just two metres from the try line.
Despite the loss and the obvious disappointment at not securing a win at the end, the manner of Swansea’s comeback must please coach Anthony Clement. The performance was a marked improvement on the disastrous loss earlier in the season at home to Pontypridd. Next up for Swansea is a trip to the capital city where bottom place Cardiff lay in wait, fighting desperately against relegation.
Full-Time:- Pontypridd 30 Swansea 26
Venue:- Sardis Road, Pontypridd
Weather:- Sunny, 1C
Competition:- Welsh Premier League
Match Referee:- Hugh Watkins
Pontypridd Scorers:- Roberts (Try), Flanagan (3 Cons, 3 Pens), W. Evans (Try), Powell (Try)
Swansea Scorers:- Pittard (Try), S. Thomas (3 Cons), T. Evans (Try), Kelly (Try), N. Jones (Try)
Swansea Team:- 15 Nicky Thomas 14 Rhys Jones (rep: A. Bramwell) 13 J. Vaughton (rep: M. Brayley) 12 D. Watts 11 N. Jones 10 S. Thomas 9 D. Pittard 1 T. Evans 2 D. Colclough 3 L. May 4 I. Evans 5 Noel Thomas 6 N. Kelly 7 G. Jones 8 S. Edwards (rep: Roy Jones)
By Paul Hopkins