By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea’s 2022/23 league campaign drew to a close with a disappointing 10-29 defeat to Pontypridd at Sardis Road.
In the opening exchanges it was evident that it would be a difficult afternoon for the All Whites as a powerful scrum by the Pontypridd front eight earned an early penalty. Fly half Joseph Scrivens found touch deep inside the 22 and the home backs lay siege to the Swansea line, but a mistake ended the move.
Full back Iestyn Griffiths fielded a kick and raced 20 yards upfield, but flanker Sion Parry failed to take Scrivens’ pass.
A misfiring lineout by hooker Owen Thomas was taken by lock Kristian Parker as the home side looked to spread the ball wide, but winger Niko Matawulu lost the ball forward.
Swansea mounted a first attack through fly half James Davies, but a calamitous pass was intercepted by Matawalu just eight metres out from the line, with the winger racing the length of the field for a try. Scrivens missed the conversion.
The visitors were awarded a penalty moments after the restart with Davies dinking the ball into the corner. Flanker Joe Greaves took the lineout and the supporting centre Joe Thomas tried to burrow under a tackle, but Davies’ pass was deemed forward at the next phase of play.
Referee Mike English brought play back for a penalty with Davies again chipping into the corner. Greaves again collected lineout ball, but Joe Thomas was held up over the line after taking a crash ball.
A chip and chase by Matawulu put Swansea under pressure and a poor error by full back Dale Ford gifted Pontypridd attacking ball. Scrum half Joel Raikes thought he was in for a try, but lock Chris Dicomidis was penalised for obstructing the Whites’ defence.
Prop Tom Harper stole a lineout and found Dicomidis who charged through the middle, but a poor chip ahead by centre Jordan Howells ended the move. Play was brought back for an earlier penalty and Scrivens found touch just five metres from the line.
Dicomidis took the lineout and replacement number eight Jake Baker illegally brought down the maul, earning a yellow card in the process. Scrivens tried to chip ahead, but Ford dealt with the danger, allowing the visitors to clear.
Matawalu was penalised for a high tackle on scrum half Gareth J Rees so Davies found touch inside the Pontypridd half. A poor lineout was stolen by the home side and a deliberate knock down compounded matters for the Swansea men.
The home side came inches close to adding a second try when Dicomidis charged towards the line, but he was tackled into touch just short.
Swansea were awarded a penalty after the home side were guilty of retaliation and Davies kicked to touch, although the lineout was stolen.
Davies found touch on the Pontypridd 22 with a penalty and a superb move involving centre Gareth O Rees and Baker forced the home side offside. Davies kicked the three pointer.
Half-time:- Pontypridd 5-3 Swansea
Howells came close to collecting a Scrivens chip ahead for a touch down just moments into the second half, but the ball beat him over the deadball line. Instead, referee English brought play back for a penalty, which Scrivens converted.
A poor kick by Davies sailed out on the full into touch, giving Pontypridd attacking territory, but lock Matt Dodd secured an important turnover.
The visitors collapsed a scrum, allowing Scrivens to find touch just shy of the 22. A superb run by Griffiths caused panic in the Swansea defence and flanker Callum Bowden was yellow carded for a professional foul.
With a clear supremacy up front, the home side opted for a scrum, but a better set piece by the All Whites forced play into touch. Dicomidis took the lineout and the Pontypridd pack mauled hooker Nathan Huish over for a try. Scrivens converted.
The home side began to run riot, and following a good run by Griffiths, a missed tackle saw flanker Aled Ward race 20 metres upfield, before he was tackled a metre short, although Parker was on hand to score. Scrivens converted.
A long stoppage followed with replacement centre Tommy Morgan attended to by medics for a prolonged period for a nasty looking injury.
A close range scrum followed with the home pack dominating, allowing Ward to stroll over for a bonus point try. Scrivens converted.
The visitors earned a rare penalty at the scrum with Joe Thomas wasting no time to get his side on the front foot as Gareth O Rees took a pass in midfield to score a consolation try. Davies converted.
Parker was penalised for entering a ruck offside but Davies failed to find touch, with Griffiths fielding the kick and clearing.
The home side were awarded a penalty when the visitors crept offside at the ruck. Scrivens found touch deep inside the Swansea 22, but replacement lock Cai James failed to take the lineout.
Full-time:- Pontypridd 29-10 Swansea
Tries:- Niko Matawalu (13), Nathan Huish (54), Kristian Parker (57), Aled Ward (70)
Cons:- Joseph Scrivens (55, 58, 71)
Pens:- Joseph Scrivens (42)
Tries:- Gareth O Rees (76)
Cons:- James Davies (77)
Pens:- James Davies (40+8)
Yellow cards:- Jake Baker (25), Callum Bowden (51)
Venue:- Sardis Road, Pontypridd
Weather:- Light rain showers, 14C
Referee:- Mike English
Man of the match:- Nathan Huish
15 Iestyn Griffiths
14 Niko Matawalu
13 Ceri Morris (rep: Tommy Morgan (40+3 (rep: Sam Hayman 63))
12 Jordan Howells
11 Dale Stuckey
10 Joseph Scrivens
9 Joel Raikes (rep: Rory Harries 80+2)
1 Ben Stephens (rep: Morgan Bosanko 63)
2 Nathan Huish (rep: Rob Jones 63)
3 Tom Harper (rep: Garyn Daniel 63)
4 Kristian Parker ©
5 Chris Dicomidis (rep: Cai James 63)
6 Aled Ward
7 Sam Parry
8 Joe Miles (rep: James Murphy 80+2)
16 Rob Jones
17 Morgan Bosanko
18 Garyn Daniel
19 James Murphy
20 Cai James
21 Rory Harries
22 Tommy Morgan
23 Sam Hayman
15 Dale Ford (rep: Sam Matthews 59)
14 Willis Wood (rep: Hanno Dirksen 56)
13 Gareth O Rees
12 Joe Thomas
11 Matthew Jenkins
10 James Davies
9 Gareth J Rees (rep: Chris Morgans 40+7-41, 56)
1 Tom Zoogah (rep: Tom Crockett 59)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Garan Williams 53)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Oli Rees 59)
4 Chris Thompson (rep: Fin Evans 64)
5 Matt Dodd
6 Joe Greaves
7 Callum Bowden ©
8 Scott Jenkins (rep: Jake Baker 3)
16 Garan Williams
17 Tom Crockett
18 Oli Rees
19 Jake Baker
20 Fin Evans
21 Chris Morgans
22 Hanno Dirksen
23 Sam Matthews