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Swansea v Pontypool match report:
By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites completed an impressive double over fellow high flyers Pontypool by grinding out a narrow victory at St Helen’s.
Pooler centre Clayton Gullis was handed an early opportunity to kick his side into the lead after the Swansea defence failed to roll away in the tackle, but his effort at goal fell short of the posts.
Whites fly half Ian Brooks also missed a penalty when the Pontypool defence crept offside in midfield.
Brooks came within inches of scoring the opening try of the match when the Swansea pack mauled the ball forward, but a desperate visitors’ defence kept them at bay.
However, the home side scored the first try when the backs created space in midfield and the ball was swept out wide to winger Andrew Claypole, who stumbled at first, and then regained his composure to dive over at the corner. Brooks missed the conversion.
Pooler lock Elliott Ferriman caught the ball from the restart and charged forward, handing a short pass to hooker Ben Parry. He forced Swansea into conceding a penalty, but Gullis missed his effort at goal.
Prop Jamie Jeune then charged up to the Swansea twenty-two and the defence stepped offside in midfield. Gullis kicked the resulting penalty.
Ex All Whites winger Nathan Brooks tried to sprint out of defence, but was caught and then penalised for holding on after the tackle. Brooks restored his side’s five point lead.
A powerful scrum by the Pontypool forwards forced the Swansea front row to stand up, and Gullis kicked the three pointer.
Prop Ryan Thomas bounced out of a tackle and set up a Swansea attack. Lock Gavin Ronan and centre David Watts combined to take possession deep into the twenty-two, and Pooler prop Garin Harris was sin-binned for deliberate offside.
Centre Jedd Evans and winger Will Lewis linked up on the wing as the All Whites used their backs to great effect. Full back Josh Flye was then driven up to the line and visitors’ replacement prop Jamie Edwards was yellow carded for killing the ball.
Half-time:- Swansea 8 Pontypool 6
The home side continued to dominate possession in the early stages of the second half and Lewis came close to scoring in the corner, before flanker Mike Sully was driven over from close range for a try. Brooks converted.
Gullis closed the gap to six points with a penalty goal after the Swansea defence crept offside in midfield.
Swansea were then reduced to 13 men in a four minute period as first Watts, and then number eight Rory Gallagher, were yellow carded, both for killing the ball.
The visitors took the lead for the first time on 63 minutes when the forwards rumbled towards the line with flanker Rob Nash scoring. Gullis converted.
Six minutes later the home side were back in front when Nash was penalised for offside at the ruck. Brooks kicked the three points.
The fly half sealed a well-earned victory with another penalty goal when the Pooler defence were caught offside in midfield.
Next up for Swansea is a Boxing Day trip to Tata Steel, while Pontypool host Newbridge.
Full time:- Swansea 21 Pontypool 16
Tries:- Andrew Claypole (19), Mike Sully (44)
Cons:- Ian Brooks (45)
Pens:- Ian Brooks (25, 69, 79)
Y cards:- Watts (57), Gallagher (61)
Tries:- Rob Nash (63)
Cons:- Clayton Gullis (64)
Pens:- Clayton Gullis (23, 30, 47)
Y cards:- Garin Harris (34), Jamie Edwards (40+1)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Peter Evans
Weather:- Rain, 13C
Man of the match:- Andrew Claypole
15 Josh Flye (rep: Scott Maynard 51)
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Jedd Evans
12 David Watts
11 Will Lewis
10 Ian Brooks
9 Rhodri Wells
1 Neil White (rep: Richard Murphy 54)
2 Paul John (rep: Ricky Guest 72)
3 Ryan Thomas
4 Gavin Ronan
5 Sam Kiley
6 Jon Fox
7 Mike Sully
8 Rory Gallagher
16 Ricky Guest
17 Richard Murphy
18 Chris James
19 Scott Maynard
20 Jack Wilson
15 Josh Hurley
14 Nathan Brooks
13 Dan Robinson
12 Clayton Gullis
11 Rhode Usher
10 Tom Hancock
9 Aaron Quick (rep: Rhys Dyer 63)
1 Jamie Jeune
2 Ben Parry (rep: Jamie Edwards 30)
3 Garin Harris
4 Matthew Thomas (rep: Joe Popple 36)
5 Elliott Ferriman
6 Jordan Williams
7 Rob Nash
8 Ben Sparks (rep: Nathan Hudd 80)
16 Joe Popple
17 Jamie Edwards
18 Nathan Hudd
19 Rhys Dyer
20 Sam Mills