PONTY KEEP PRESSURE ON THE LEADERS
PONTYPRIDD bagged an impressive sixth Premiership victory on the bounce, but captain Chris Dicomidis admitted they were made to work for it by relegation battlers Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets.
The disparity in league positions — second against 11th — was not reflected out on the pitch.
The Valley Commandos were seeking a victory to keep up the pressure on Merthyr at the top of the table.
That aim was ultimately achieved, but not without a considerable amount of hard graft against a spirited Llanelli side who proved to be a totally different proposition from the one which had lost by 40-plus points at Sardis Road earlier in the campaign.
It took a moment of magic from dynamic winger Dale Stuckey in the 67th minute to finally cement the win for Justin Burnell’s men, but they were unable to cross for a fourth bonus-point touchdown.
“We achieved what we set out to achieve today, which was to secure a win against what was, as we expected, tough opposition,” said Dicomidis.
“It was good to end the year on a positive note and to keep ourselves in the mix at the top of the Premiership.
“There was a good tempo to the game with plenty of ball-in-play time.
“Llanelli proved to be a difficult side to break down and both teams showed each other the respect they deserved.
“We can be happy with our own defensive performance and not conceding a try.”
Although dominating territory for long periods of the first half, Pontypridd were up against a stubborn home defence, who were putting in tackles and battling for every scrap of possession in the loose.
It was Ponty full-back Ben Jones, who had previously kicked effectively for field position, who opened the scoring with a penalty, before supplying a neat back-hand pass to send Stuckey cruising in for an unconverted try wide out.
Llanelli fought their way back into contention, with centre Jonny Lewis converting only one of three penalty attempts at goal from various distances, before the visitors re-asserted their superiority.
Veteran outside-half Ceri Sweeney sniped in for a try under the posts, converted by Jones to give his side a 15-3 interval lead.
The contest struggled to ignite after the restart, with Pontypridd attempting to up the tempo by taking quick tap-penalties and Stuckey going close in the corner. But their efforts were rebuffed by a Llanelli team who gave as good as they got.
Both teams made numerous changes off the bench and were guilty of committing errors in cancelling each other out for long periods.
Stuckey finally lit up the enveloping winter gloom, waltzing his way to the line to score a crucial try which Sweeney converted from a wide angle.
Llanelli refused to give up although the game was now effectively beyond them, but Pontypridd finished strongly to close out the contest.
Pictured in his Wales Under-20s shirt and holding his cap is Aron Hemmings of Penybanc. The former Llandovery College pupil now plays for Carmarthen Quins and the Scarlets. After a spell on the sidelines through injury, he hopes to return to action after the Christmas break.Picture: John B R Davies.