By: Paul Hopkins
Image credit: Riley Sports Photography: https://www.rileysportsphoto.com/
Swansea made it three wins on the bounce with a sensational six try 45-22 win over Pontypridd at St Helen’s.
The visitors were afforded the first attacking chance and a deft chip through by fly half Joseph Scrivens was almost pounced on by Niko Matawalu, but the Fijian international winger failed to gather. Instead, the home side hurriedly cleared and centre Jordan Howells came close to scoring, but he slipped five metres from the line.
Swansea opened the scoring with a magnificent try when scrum half Gareth J Rees spotted a gap five metres from his own try line and raced up to half way. He then found fly half Dan Edwards, who burst onto the pass and sprinting clear to score under the posts. Full back Cai Evans converted.
The shell shocked visitors were penalised for failing to release the ball at the breakdown and Evans turned down the kickable penalty to instead find touch inside the Pontypridd 22. The Swansea backs tried to create a chance, but centre Tom Florence was tackled into touch.
Flanker Harri Deaves made a break over half way but the supporting prop Cameron Jones threw a pass into touch. After a quick lineout by the visitors, Scrivens kicked the ball down the throat of Rees, who combined superbly again with Dan Edwards to send winger Harri Houston over for a well taken try. Evans converted.
Number eight Joe Miles pealed off an advancing Pontypridd scrum but play was brought back for a penalty, which Scrivens kicked to the corner. After a good lineout take by Miles, flanker Aled Ward was driven over for a try. Scrivens missed the conversion.
A superb angled 50-22 kick under pressure by Rees gave the home side an attacking lineout. Florence took a crash ball but Dan Edwards’ pass out wide was intercepted by winger Dale Stuckey. Thankfully for the Whites, play was brought back for an earlier penalty, from which Evans kicked a three pointer.
Swansea continued to dominate and another 50-22 kick by Rees earned a lineout on the 22. Number eight Callum Bowden tried to force a pass though and Pontypridd were able to turn over possession.
Bowden made amends by ripping a ball out of the hands of a visitors player and Rees made it a hat trick of 50-22 kicks, though hooker Owen Thomas’ throw at the lineout was crooked.
Scrivens found touch inside the Swansea half after a powerful drive at a scrum forced the home pack into another transgression. Miles got quick ball out of the scrum with replacement flanker Morgan Sieniawski on hand to feed scrum half Rory Harries for a try. Scrivens dragged the conversion horribly wide of the posts.
Houston threatened to break through but Pontypridd were able to secure a turnover and kicked the ball into a dangerous position, but Evans remained composed and was able to clear despite Stuckey bearing down on him.
Matawalu ran menacingly at the Swansea defence but was tackled into the 22. Play was brought back for an earlier penalty and Scrivens kicked to touch, but any chance of an attack came to an end when Matawulu passed the ball into touch.
Half-time:- Swansea 17-10 Pontypridd
Sieniawski almost scored a freak try just seconds after the interval when a loose kick fell into his hands, but the Whites managed to get back to defend with Deaves securing a turnover.
The home side struggled to get the ball out of a scrum just five metres from their own line, but Evans managed to tidy up play, before replacement flanker Morgan Morse dropped a pass just short of the line. There was a sense of inevitability of what was to follow as an unstoppable Pontypridd pack forced a penalty try. Cameron Jones was also yellow carded.
Full back Matt Bancroft looked set to score in the corner as the Whites’ defence was stretched, but an excellent tackle by Evans secured a badly needed turnover.
The visitors continued to attack though and were awarded a penalty midway between the 22 and line, from which they chose to take a scrum. It proved the wrong decision though as Swansea were handed a lifeline in the form of a free kick.
Replacement hooker Garan Williams hacked forward a loose ball from a lineout and forced Pontypridd into a quick clearance that sailed out on the full. Lock Huw Sutton took the lineout on the 22 and the visitors gave away a penalty, which Evans kicked to the corner, but a poor throw saw the move break down.
Pontypridd gave away possession inside their own 22 and after a period of pressure replacement prop Scott Jenkins was held up just short of the line. But the pressure finally told when Deaves crashed over for a try. Evans converted.
Matawalu rose high to tap back the restart with Sieniawski racing up to the 22, before he was tackled. A mistake by the Whites gifted Pontypridd a scrum on the 22, but they were unable to make the most of the opportunity.
The home side secured a bonus point when the ball was fed through multiple phases of play before Deaves stretched over to score. Evans converted.
And the All Whites sealed an outstanding victory when replacement centre Hanno Dirksen burst through the middle and chipped to the corner for winger Iestyn Hopkins to score. Evans converted.
In the closing stages Matawalu took a pass on the wing and raced clear for a consolation try for the visitors. Scrivens missed the conversion.
But it was the home side who had the final say when Hopkins popped up for a try after an impressive move by the Swansea backs. Evans converted.
In the last play of the match a huge penalty kick by Evans found touch a few metres from the Pontypridd line, but lock Kris Parker stole the lineout. A deliberate obstruction by Evans saw the full back shown a yellow card.
Next up for Swansea is a trip to Merthyr, while Pontypridd host league leaders Aberavon.
Full-time:- Swansea 45-22 Pontypridd
Tries:- Dan Edwards (5), Harri Houston (11), Harri Deaves (65, 76), Iestyn Hopkins (80, 80+6)
Cons:- Cai Evans (6, 12, 66, 77, 80+1, 80+7)
Pens:- Cai Evans (23)
Yellow cards:- Cameron Jones (50), Cai Evans (80+11)
Tries:- Aled Ward (17), Rory Harries (37), Penalty Try (50), Niko Matawalu (80+4)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 15C
Man of the match:- Gareth J Rees
15 Cai Evans
14 Iestyn Hopkins
13 Tom Florence (rep: Hanno Dirksen 53)
12 Luke Scully
11 Harri Houston (rep: Freddie Chapman 55-62)
10 Dan Edwards (rep: Osian Knott 63)
9 Gareth J Rees (rep: Harvey Nash 69)
1 Cameron Jones (rep: Freddie Chapman 62)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Garan Williams 41)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Scott Jenkins 50)
4 Huw Sutton
5 Lewis Jones
6 Lewis Marsh (rep: Morgan Morse 41)
7 Harri Deaves
8 Callum Bowden © (rep: Liam Edwards 63)
16 Garan Williams
17 Freddie Chapman
18 Scott Jenkins
19 Liam Edwards
20 Morgan Morse
21 Harvey Nash
22 Osian Knott
23 Hanno Dirksen
15 Matt Bancroft (rep: Ewan Skuse 63)
14 Niko Matawalu
13 Tommy Morgan
12 Jordan Howells (rep: Ceri Morris 53)
11 Dale Stuckey
10 Joseph Scrivens
9 Rory Harries (rep: Joel Raikes 53)
1 Ben Stephens (rep: Garyn Daniel 66)
2 Rob Jones
3 Tom Harper (rep: Morgan Bosanko 66)
4 Kris Parker ©
5 James Little (rep: Chris Dicomidis 74)
6 Aled Ward
7 Cally James (rep: Morgan Sieniawski (23)
8 Joe Miles
16 Nathan Huish
17 Garyn Daniel
18 Morgan Bosanko
19 Chris Dicomidis
20 Morgan Sieniawski
21 Joel Raikes
22 Ceri Morris
23 Ewan Skuse