DIVISION THREE EAST CENTRAL A
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.