Cynon Valley - - SPORT -

FAIR­WA­TER ................ 15 PON­TY­CLUN ............... 35

A QUICK glance at the score would sug­gest a com­fort­able win for Pon­ty­clun. But in re­al­ity, victory was only se­cured in the last 10 min­utes of play when they crossed for two con­verted tries. This was the open­ing game of the 2017/8 league cam­paign and the Badgers could have hoped for an eas­ier start, than a visit to Fair­wa­ter. As usual, the home side sported a rather large pack and from the off their tac­tics were to keep the ball close in and try and deny the tal­ented Pon­ty­clun back divi­sion any rea­son­able level of pos­ses­sion. This re­sulted in a rather un­event­ful open­ing 20 min­utes or so.

Fair­wa­ter took the lead via the boot of Liam Free only for Pon­ty­clun to draw level via a Nicky Theaker penalty. Theaker then added a try after he broke from mid­field, near to half way, and fol­lowed up his grub­ber kick to the cor­ner, even­tu­ally forc­ing his way over the line wide out on the right. Theaker was short with the con­ver­sion at­tempt but Pon­ty­clun led by 8-3.

The home side lev­elled mat­ters al­most im­me­di­ately when Michael Pike crashed over fol­low­ing a for­ward drive by the Fair­wa­ter pack. The con­ver­sion at­tempt by Free was way off tar­get. It took un­til al­most half-time for the first mean­ing­ful at­tack from the Pon­ty­clun back divi­sion and after the ball was moved swiftly via Wil­liams, Rose, Probyn and Lewis, it was Theaker again who crossed for his and Pon­ty­clun’s sec­ond try. Im­me­di­ately though, a mass brawl broke out which re­sulted in Fair­wa­ter los­ing a player to a red card, after the ref­eree ad­judged him to be the in­sti­ga­tor of the al­ter­ca­tion. Theaker con­verted his own try to send Pon­ty­clun into half-time lead­ing by 15-8.

The Pon­ty­clun fol­low­ing prob­a­bly ex­pected their team to take full ad­van­tage of the ex­tra man after the re­sump­tion, but de­spite en­joy­ing the greater share of pos­ses­sion and field po­si­tion, they strug­gled to break down a spir­ited Fair­wa­ter de­fence.

They looked to have in­creased their lead from the boot of Theaker but the ref­eree ad­judged that his kick had gone over the top of the post and turned down the “score”. This “miss” seemed to gal­vanise Fair­wa­ter and they went on the as­cen­dency for a 10-minute spell, when they pep­pered the Pon­ty­clun line with drive after drive from close in. They even­tu­ally were re­warded with a try from Ryan Young and Free’s con­ver­sion lev­elled mat­ters at 15 points each.

Pon­ty­clun made a few changes to their per­son­nel with Jack Theaker, Rhys Mor­gan and Joel Ayres en­ter­ing the fray at var­i­ous stages. Theaker added two more penal­ties be­fore Free missed a golden op­por­tu­nity for the hosts, from a de­cent po­si­tion. Pon­ty­clun then stepped up a gear with Mor­gan, in par­tic­u­lar, stamp­ing his class on pro­ceed­ings and he was in­stru­men­tal in Pon­ty­clun’s two late tries. Firstly he crossed the line him­self, with Theaker adding the ex­tras and soon after, spin­ning a loop­ing pass, which was gob­bled up by Huw Probyn, who fin­ished neatly out wide. Theaker was again on tar­get to take his in­di­vid­ual tally to 25 points. The Probyn try added a try-scor­ing bonus point and Pon­ty­clun re­treated from the Cardiff sub­urb with five points in the bag.

This was an ex­cel­lent start to the sea­son for the Badgers, de­spite not fir­ing on all cylin­ders, but then again they are bound to be a lit­tle “ring rusty” this early on in the sea­son. Next up they en­ter­tain Tre­har­ris in a league match on Satur­day, September 9 at the Wind­sor Field and the fol­low­ing Satur­day, Rhi­gos are the vis­i­tors in the first round of the Swalec Bowl. Both KO times are sched­uled for 2.30pm.

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