By: Paul Hopkins
A late missed conversion attempt by outstanding fly half James Davies proved vital as a plucky Swansea side tasted defeat at home to Pontypridd.
In an evenly fought contest it was the visitors who came out of the blocks the quickest. A long pass out to Harvey James saw the winger threaten to stretch his legs, but Ponty flanker Cally James managed to come away with possession for the visitors.
Number eight Joe Miles then raced 20 metres upfield and scrum half Dafydd Buckland spread play quickly through the hands of his backs with winger Jac Davies cantering over for a try. Winger Dale Stuckey missed the conversion.
An infringement at the scrum gave Pontypridd a penalty and fly half Ceri Morris chipped up to the 22. Flanker Sion Parry took the lineout and centre Garyn Payne ran at pace, but the Whites secured a turnover. Their respite was short lived though as Ponty were soon back in possession, but winger Josh Carrington managed to deal with Ceri Morris’ chip ahead.
Carrington tried to race out of defence and managed to reach half way with fly half James Davies and centre Kieran Charles in support, but the home side were unable to make the most of the counterattack.
Swansea were penalised for offside in midfield under the posts, and the visitors opted for a scrum five, but scrum half Connor Tantum nipped in to win ball against the head.
The All Whites’ embarked on their first attack and it looked as if centre Gareth Rees was set to score in the corner, but James’ pass was adjudged to be forward. Play was brought back for an earlier offside though and James Davies kicked the penalty goal.
Pontypridd were awarded a penalty from the restart with Buckland taking a quick tap and go, but he became isolated with the home side awarded a relieving penalty of their own.
Davies rose high to superbly take a high Ceri Morris kick and the fly half tried a repeat of this feat, but Stuckey was unable to collect the ball, although Carrington spilled it forward to give the visitors an attacking scrum.
Swansea conceded a further penalty at the scrum with Ceri Morris finding touch a couple of metres from the line. Hooker Rob Jones’ throw missed everyone in the lineout though and the home side were able to scramble the ball clear through James Davies.
The visitors almost scored a second try when Ceri Morris threw a long pass out to Stuckey, who chipped ahead for Miles to chase, but the number eight was unable to ground the ball over the line and instead his side was awarded an attacking scrum five.
Pontypridd again controlled the scrum and this time there was nothing the home pack could do as Miles touched down for his side’s second try. Stuckey converted.
James Davies kicked his side to within six points with a penalty goal from halfway following a dangerous tackle by the visitors. And it was the Pontypridd pack’s turn to give away a penalty at the scrum with James Davies making them pay again with another successful kick at goal.
Tantum tried to counterattack from within his own half after James juggled the ball, but he held on after the tackle. Instead, Ceri Morris found touch on the 22, although the Pontypridd backs were unable to make the most of the unexpected attacking opportunity.
On the stroke of half time Cally James took a lineout, but Pontypridd were penalised for offside, giving James Davies the chance to punt up to the 22. The home pack were unable to get the ball out of the maul so gave away a scrum.
Half-time:- Swansea 9-12 Pontypridd
Cally James tried to run out of defence after a tricky restart to the half, but he was penalised for holding onto possession after the tackle. James Davies tied the scores with a successful effort at goal.
Carrington made a half break as the Whites looked to threaten and the visitors’ gave away another penalty when Cally James entered a ruck from the side. James Davies missed his effort at goal though.
Buckland nipped in to steal the ball against the head as the Pontypridd forwards drove their Swansea counterparts backwards. The home side gave away a penalty and Ceri Morris chipped to the corner. Replacement hooker Ieuan Morris crashed over for a try from the lineout, which Stuckey converted.
The visitors attacked at pace from the restart and full back Morgan Roberts tried to create an overlap out wide but failed to throw a scoring pass out to Stuckey.
James Davies found touch deep inside the Pontypridd 22 with a penalty as the home side looked to recover from the setback. Lock Matt Dodd took the lineout, but the Ponty forwards managed to bring the maul down a metre short of the line and secured a turnover.
In a turnaround in events the home side were awarded a penalty at the scrum and a quick tap penalty saw replacement hooker Owen Thomas crash over for a try. James Davies converted to level the scores again.
Swansea gave away a penalty at the scrum with prop Tom Northy handed a yellow card. Replacement fly half Jake Lloyd chose to kick at goal from distance and his decision paid off as he handed his side the lead again.
Lloyd further extended his side’s advantage with another penalty goal after the Swansea pack were caught offside at a ruck.
In the dying seconds Pontypridd were penalised for killing the ball and James Davies found touch on the 22. Replacement winger Curtis Davies threatened but a high tackle on him gave James Davies another chance to chip deep into the corner. From the lineout Thomas controlled a maul and crashed over for his second try. All eyes were on James Davies, who sliced his effort wide of the posts as the Whites came up agonisingly short.
Full-time:- Swansea 25-26 Pontypridd
Tries:- Owen Thomas (68, 80+3)
Cons:- James Davies (69)
Pens:- James Davies (16, 29, 33, 42)
Yellow cards:- Tom Northy (74)
Tries:- Jac Davies (3), Joe Miles (26), Ieuan Morris (58)
Cons:- Dale Stuckey (27, 59)
Pens:- Jake Lloyd (74, 77)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 19C
Referee:- Elfryn Morris-Roberts
Man of the match:- Sion Parry
15 Liam Popham
14 Josh Carrington (rep: Curtis Davies 60)
13 Gareth Rees
12 Kieran Charles
11 Harvey James (rep: Jordan Pritchard 80+1)
10 James Davies
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Chris Morgans 56)
1 Tom Northy (rep: Harvey James 80+4)
2 Garan Williams (rep: Owen Thomas 47)
3 Jordan Pritchard (rep: Cameron Jones 49)
4 Matt Dodd ©
5 Jay Williams (rep: Liam McNally 55)
6 Billy Moxey (rep: Charlie Davies 47)
7 Callum Bowden (rep: Liam Edwards 60)
8 Ben Williams
16 Owen Thomas
17 Cameron Jones
18 Alun Dew
19 Liam Edwards
20 Charlie Davies
21 Liam McNally
22 Chris Morgans
23 Curtis Davies
15 Morgan Richards
14 Jac Davies
13 Bradley Roderick
12 Garyn Payne
11 Dale Stuckey
10 Ceri Morris
9 Dafydd Buckland
1 Ben Stephens (rep: Tom Devine 60)
2 Rob Jones (rep: Ieuan Morris 54)
3 Tom Harper (rep: Morgan Bosanko 60)
4 Kristian Parker ©
5 Chris Dicomidis (rep: James Little 54)
6 Cally James (rep: Cai James 60)
7 Sion Parry
8 Joe Miles
16 Ieuan Morris
17 Tom Devine
18 Morgan Bosanko
19 James Little
20 Cai James
21 Dai Jones
22 Jake Lloyd
23 Sam Hayman