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.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be heading back home to take on the All Blacks next year where for him, success for 2017 is all about going to New Zealand and winning a Test Series.
Last week all roads led to Eugene Cross Park where defending champions Ebbw Vale hosted this season's launch of the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie was there to capture the thoughts of Damien Hudd, captain of Ebbw Vale, and WRU Head of Performance, Geraint John.
Llandovery made it three in a row when they defeated Aberavon in the final of the National Foster's 7s at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday. On another eventful day of sevens, Newport claimed the Plate and the Dragons won the women's crown
Last week saw Cardiff welcome players from around the world for the 21st Golden Oldies Festival. The tournament features players over 35 years of age, and this year's event saw a select few represent the WRU in a 'friendly' against the Wooden Spoon.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.