Aled James taking on the Ponty defence.
Photographer: Alyn Humphreys
Glamorgan Wanderers 13
“At this level we cannot afford to spurn so many good chances” commented manager Darren Joy after the Wanderers saw a good performance undone by some poor handling.
On a bitterly cold afternoon the Wanderers had first use of a strong blustery wind that made expansive rugby very difficult. The early territory went to the visitors and the Pontypridd defence was pushed hard as the wanderers strove for the opening score. A quick penalty taken by Lloyd Williams set up a strong attacking position but the first of many handling errors resulted in Pontypridd being able to clear their lines. The pressure was still on the home side and after 13 minutes the wanderers broke the deadlock. An attack over several phases which included drives by Gareth Morris and Simon Rosser put Aled James away on the right wing. As the defence covered James slipped an inside pass to Steve Cullen who was tackled before the ball reached him. The referee was convinced a try would have been scored and he awarded a penalty try. James added the conversion and the Wanderers led 0-7. Pontypridd responded by securing possession from the kick off and they went through several phases only to find the Wanderers defence solid. Another home side attack was halted illegally at a ruck and Gareth McCarthy had a chance to reduce the arrears but his penalty chance went wide. Ponty were now gaining ascendancy and they eventually got on the scoreboard with a McCarthy try following an attack covering half the pitch. The conversion was missed and Wanderers still led 5-7. Despite the wind at their backs the visitors failed to pin the home back in their own half and before long Ponty made their strength pay. A penalty into the wind was declined and a catch and drive from the subsequent lineout was pulled down illegally by the wanderers and the home side were awarded the second penalty try of the game. McCarthy converted and Pontypridd led 12-7. The Wanderers woes were further compounded at the end of the half when Lee Highgate was sin-binned after persistent offences at rucks. Ponty threw everything at the visitors but despite all the pressure they only extended their lead with a McCarthy penalty and the sides went into the break at 15-7.
The second half saw the Wanderers introduce the experience of Mark Roper into the back division. He replaced Steve Cullen who suffered a thumb injury. With the wind on their backs Pontypridd were immediately on the attack but dogged defence prevented further scoring. On a couple of occasions the Wanderers turned Ponty possession over but their poor handling presented the home side with easy chances to get the pressure back on. After one attack McCarthy increased the lead to 18-7 with a well taken drop goal. With an 11 point deficit to make up the Wanderers started to play some quality rugby. With Roper galvanising the backs and fresh legs on in the pack the visitors started to create chances. Aled James reduced the arrears with a penalty and following further attacks, with Jamie Jones very prominent, another penalty made the score 18-13. The Wanderers were having their best part of the game and they created plenty of chances to get back into the match. Unfortunately time and time again poor handling presented the ball back into Ponty’s hands allowing them to clear the danger. On one of those occasions Ponty cleared downfield and with the Wanderers backs all up in attack they were able to break clear and crash over in the corner to seal the victory. . As the game entered its final minutes both sides threw caution to the wind to gain a chance at the bonus point on offer but the defences held firm and Pontypridd ran out deserved winners 23-13.
Author: Alyn Humphreys