BLACKWOOD 8, PONTYPRIDD 24
Pontypridd were forced to stage a major second half revival to reach the
quarter-finals of the Principality Cup at the expense of a highly motivated
and competent Blackwood side.
The First Division outfit had first use of the strong wind and driving snow
showers and didn't waste any time in providing a warm-welcome to Glan-yr-
Afan Park for the PARKER PEN SHIELD semi-finalists.
A high cross-field kick by outside half Martin Jones may have looked pretty
innocuous from the stand, but it put Gareth Jones and Brett Davey under
pressure in the Ponty 22 and when Jonjes failed to clear home full back Dean Brown pounced for a try after only seven minutes.
Blackwood's Samoan import Jagger To'o caused mayhem every time he had the
ball and the Premiership side were guilty of turning over the ball in the
frnatic opening exchanges.
A drive from a line out won by Ponty lock Brett Cockbain forced the Blackwood pack to give away a penalty and Brett Davey stepped up to steady the visitors' nerves with a 17th minute penalty.
No 8 Jamie Sims pulled off a try saving tackle when Gareth Jones got away on
a 45 metre run, but the only other score of the first-half came from the
Left wing Darren Starr launched a kick and chase raid that put Ponty on the
back foot and when they went offside 35 metres out, Jones hit the left upright with his penalty.
Jones then pushed a drop goal wide of the mark, but was on target when the
Ponty scrum came under pressure and the visitors were forced to concede a
penalty close to their posts.
Ponty were grateful to have the elements in their favour in the second
half and rung the changes as the game progressed, bringing on Paul John,
Nicky Little, Michael Owen and Mefin Davies .
A second Davey penalty five minutes after the break reduced the gap to
two points and Ponty went ahead for the first time after 49 mintues.
They looked to have messed up a try scoring chance, but scrum half Gareth
Baber put in a raking kick to the left and England Sevens wing Nigel Simpson was first to the ball for the try. Davey hit the left upright with his conversion attempt.
Davey kicked his third penalty after 57 minutes, when the Blackwood scrum half Owen Jones was penalised for a dummy pass from the base of the scrum, and at the other end Jones was wide from 44 metres.
Then, with six minutes to go, Ponty sealed things when replacement centre
Jason Lewis gave a scoring pass to Gareth Jones who crossed in the corner
for Davey to convert.
Gareth Jones went close to getting a second try, but a foot in touch thwarted him. Davey had the final word, though, when Blackwood were penalised at a ruck 12 metres out and the full back made it 14 points for the day with a fourth penalty.
Scorers: Blackwood: Try: D Brown; Pen: M Jones. Pontypridd: Tries: N
Simpson, G Jones; Con: B Davey; Pens: B Davey 4.
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Ebbw Vale captain Damien Hudd picked up the biggest accolade of the night at the 11th Principality Premiership Awards Evening held at Principality Stadium, after leading his side to the title for the first time.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde is predicting a tough battle against England on Sunday despite the fact they may not be considered to be at full strength. Players will be out to impress Eddie Jones which makes England a dangerous proposition, he says.
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