By: Paul Hopkins
A late Matthew Jarvis penalty goal clinched a first victory back in the Premiership for Pontypool as the All Whites were left ruing a catalogue of mistakes over the course of the 80 minutes.
The home side stole an early lineout and looked to use their backs, but the pass out wide to Huw Anderson evaded the winger into touch.
A high tackle on Anderson gave Pontypool a penalty near the touchline and fly half Jarvis chose at attempt an effort at goal, but it drifted wide of the posts.
Anderson comfortably took a high ball with the Pooler backs switching play to the left hand side, before full back Gareth O Rees failed to deal with a high kick and gave away a penalty – this time Jarvis chose to chip into the corner.
Flanker Bowden stole in at a scrappy lineout to regather possession for the All Whites, but a poor chip and chase by centre Osian Knott sailed into touch out on the full.
Bowden tidied up play to spark the first Swansea attack and the home side were penalised for diving over the top after prop Ed Thompson charged forward. Fly half Rhys Jones kicked the three pointer.
The home side got their opening try on the board when full back Matty Bancroft made a break through the middle and split the Swansea defence, sending a scoring pass to Anderson. Jarvis converted.
Lock Ashley Sweet stole the ball out of a tackle with scrum half Morgan Lloyd box kicking down the wing. Rees failed to deal with the danger properly as he was only able to hack his clearance kick into touch.
A rolling maul from the lineout by Pontypool created another attack, but a loose ball was hacked forward and winger Harvey James gathered, using his pace to race 60 metres upfield for a try under the posts – very much against the run of play. Rhys Jones converted.
A poor error by scrum half Matthew Aubrey at the base of a ruck gifted Pontypool an attacking scrum, from which they were subsequently awarded a penalty, which Jarvis chipped up to the 22. Prop Sam Cochrane took the lineout, but support was slow to arrive and he gave away a penalty.
The home side gave away another penalty at the scrum and Rhys Jones found touch just shy of the 22. Centre Joe Thomas sprinted forward but was tackled, and the visitors lost possession, with the ball hacked clear downfield.
Rhys Jones made a half break and was hauled down and Bowden powered over the 22, but lock Lloyd Ashley was penalised for holding on after the tackle.
Arguably a major turning point of the game happened just before half time when Rhys Jones took a free kick with his knee – against the laws of rugby – and gave away a scrum in a dangerous position. This predictably turned into a penalty, which Jarvis kicked deep into the 22.
Sweet took the lineout and the home pack powered towards the line with flanker Jake Baker yellow carded for illegally pulling down the maul. The home side chose a scrum and their decision paid off when flanker Scott Matthews crashed over for a try from the second phase of play. Jarvis converted.
Half-time:- Pontypool 14-10 Swansea
Swansea gave away a penalty inside the first minute of the second half with Jarvis finding touch on the visitors’ 22. Hooker Sam Scarfe’s lineout throw was a mess though, so the Whites were able to regain possession.
Morgan Lloyd looked to have added a third try for the home side when he chased down a kick, but he was well offside so play was brought back for a Swansea penalty.
A wayward kick by Rhys Jones sailed out on the full to gift Pontypool a lineout on their 22. Matthews rose high to collect the ball, but gave away a penalty for a foul at the set piece.
Baker took a nasty hit moments after he returned to the pitch and needed to go off for a concussion check, from which he wasn’t to return. Aubrey tried to go down the narrow side, but Rhys Jones was unable to take the pass, although play was brought back for a visitors penalty. Rhys Jones missed his effort at goal.
Soon after, the home side were awarded a penalty at the scrum with Jarvis opting to kick for goal and he duly slotted his effort between the posts.
Replacement hooker Owen Thomas stole in at the back of a malfunctioned Pontypool lineout, but with Rees and James looking to create an overlap out wide, a forward pass brought an end to the move.
Rees almost regathered a charge down but the bounce of the ball evaded him, however the home side were unable to clear and were dragged back within their own goal line.
A superb 50/22 kick by Aubrey gave Swansea a lineout deep inside Pontypool territory. Superb work by the forwards saw winger Matthew Jenkins crash over to score in the corner. Aubrey converted from out wide to tie the scores.
Aubrey mis-cued his clearance into touch on his own 22 to put his side under pressure. but replacement hooker Jack Gillard failed to throw straight into the lineout.
A superb run down the narrow side by replacement winger Walker Price up to the 22 threatened the Swansea defence, though he was tackled into touch. Play was brought back for an earlier offside with Jarvis opting to kick at goal with time running out. It proved the correct call as he cooly slotted his effort between the posts to give his side the lead.
Replacement scrum half Rhodri Lewis was penalised for offside at the scrum and Jarvis kicked the penalty touch finder close to the Swansea 22. The home pack controlled possession well and were awarded another penalty when the Whites’ forwards crept offside.
Jarvis turned down the kickable penalty to find touch deep inside the 22, but Matthews held up inches short of the line. It proved to be the last play of the game though with the referee’s whistle blowing for full time moments later.
Full-time:- Pontypool 20-17 Swansea
Tries:- Huw Anderson (17), Scott Matthews (40+7)
Cons:- Matthew Jarvis (18, 40+8)
Pens:- Matthew Jarvis (55, 80)
Tries:- Harvey James (21), Matthew Jenkins (68)
Cons:- Rhys Jones (22), Matthew Aubrey (69)
Pens:- Rhys Jones (15)
Yellow cards:- Jake Baker (40+4)
Venue:- Pontypool Park, Pontypool
Weather:- Sunny, 27C
Referee:- Keith David
Man of the match:- Scott Matthews
15 Matty Bancroft
14 Deon Smith (rep: Walker Price 67)
13 Pat Lewis (rep: Amosa Nove 78)
12 Joel Mahoney
11 Huw Anderson
10 Matthew Jarvis
9 Morgan Lloyd (rep: Owain Leonard 76)
1 Sam Cochrane (rep: Kyan Best 63)
2 Sam Scarfe (rep: Jack Gillard (63)
3 Ollie Drake (rep: Peter Lloyd 63)
4 Lance Randall (rep: Lewis Johnson 74)
5 Ashley Sweet
6 Scott Matthews ©
7 Callum Davies (rep: Adam Stratton 65)
8 Ben Moa
16 Jack Gillard
17 Kyan Best
18 Peter Lloyd
19 Lewis Johnson
20 Adam Stratton
21 Owain Leonard
22 Amosa Nove
23 Walker Price
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Matthew Jenkins
13 Joe Thomas
12 Osian Knott
11 Harvey James
10 Rhys Jones (rep: Rhodri Lewis 58)
9 Matthew Aubrey
1 Ed Thompson (rep: Freddie Chapman 63)
2 Jamie Cox (rep: Owen Thomas 55)
3 Scott Jenkins (rep: Kian Hire 55)
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 Matt Dodd
6 Jake Baker (re: Lewis Jones 50)
7 Callum Bowden ©
8 Joe Greaves
Replacements (all used):
16 Owen Thomas
17 Freddie Chapman
18 Kian Hire
19 Lewis Jones
20 Dai Francis
21 Rhodri Lewis
22 Marcus Brown
23 Willis Wood