Pontypridd 43 Aberavon 7
For their televised Principality Premiership visit to Sardis Road, Aberavon made seven changes, plus one positional, to the side that started against Merthyr in the Cup the week before.
Four changes were made in the pack with Ieuan Davies and 20-year-old Jordan Walters coming into the front row, Luke Joseph into the second row and 18-year-old Jac Morgan in the back-row. In the backs, Jacob Flynn came in at scrum-half and Joe Gage at centre. Shaun Pearce started on the left wing after being out since the middle of November through concussion, whilst Stef Andrews – normally a wing – moved to full-back. On the right wing, 18-year-old Frankie Jones made his tenth start for the Wizards this season.
Pontypridd started strongly and took the game to the Wizards, with them being rewarded with a penalty just three minutes into the game. Outside-half Ceri Sweeney kicked the three points.
Fifteen minutes in and the Wizards were awarded a penalty at a scrum. However, outside-half Liam Popham was unsuccessful with the kick.
At the end of the opening quarter, huge pressure from the home side saw full back Dale Stuckey, in his 100th game for Ponty, go over for the first try of the game. Sweeney added the extras.
In the 24th minute Aberavon lost Luke Joseph through injury, and shortly afterwards came close to scoring a try. The game was held up for several minutes as the TMO watched multiple replays before deeming the Wizards had knocked on in the act of scoring.
With 37 minutes showing on the Sardis Road clock, Ceri Sweeney went over for Ponty’s second try, with him converting his own try to put the home side 17 – 0 up.
In injury time, Sweeney missed with a penalty kick, but Ponty had their tails up and prop Kieron Assiratti scored in the left-hand corner fifteen minutes into injury time to make the half time score 22 – 0 to Pontypridd.
Ten minutes into the second half the Wizards brought on 18-year-old hooker Cameron Lewis, whilst scrum-half Rhodri Cole made just his fourth appearance for the club as he makes his way back from a long-term injury.
A few minutes later referee Gwyn Morris awarded Ponty a penalty try to give the Sardis Road side a bonus point.
Despite Aberavon being reduced to fourteen players after prop Walters was sin-binned for the penalty try, Ponty failed to score whilst they had a player advantage.
In the 68th minute the Wizards were dealt a big blow when outside-half Liam Popham came off injured, with him having to be replaced by flanker Joe Tomalin-Reeves. Wing-come-full-back Stef Andrew moved to outside half, whilst 18-year-old Iwan Shenton replaced match captain Lee Purnell in the back-row.
With four minutes left of “normal time”, Aberavon finally got on the scoreboard when replacement scrum-half Cole darted over for a try that he converted to make the score 29 – 7 in Ponty’s favour.
The home side had the last word though as they scored two tries in injury time – replacement Gab Davies going over in the 83rd minute, and Stuckey going over for his second of the night just a couple of minutes later after making an interception and sprinting clear for a try under the posts. Sweeney converted both to make the final score 43 – 7 to Pontypridd.
Next Saturday, the Wizards welcome top-of-the-table Merthyr to the Talbot Athletic Ground.
Pontypridd 43 – 7 Aberavon
Stef Andrews; Frankie Jones, Will Price, Joe Gage (rep Rheon James 58 min), Shaun Pearce; Liam Popham (rep Joe Tomalin-Reeves 68 min), Jacob Flynn (rep Rhodri Cole 51 min); Jordan Walters (rep Rhys Forse 70 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Cameron Lewis 51 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 62 min), Luke Joseph (rep Ben Mayers-Davies 24 min), Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (capt) (rep Iwan Shenton 69 min), Ashton Evans (rep Rhys Forse 58-70 min), Jac Morgan.
Frankie Jones, Jordan Walters & Iwan Shenton appeared from the Ospreys; Cameron Lewis appeared from the Blues.
T – Rhodri Cole
C – Rhodri Cole
T – Dale Stuckey (2), Ceri Sweeney, Keiron Assiratti, Gab Davies, Penalty Try
C – Ceri Sweeney (4)
PG – Ceri Sweeney
Man Of The Match:
1 – Rhodri Cole
2 – Rhodri Hughes
3 – Ashton Evans
03 min: Pontypridd – PG – Ceri Sweeney (3 – 0)
19 min: Pontypridd – T – Dale Stuckey & C – Ceri Sweeney (10 – 0)
37 min: Pontypridd – T – Ceri Sweeney & C – Ceri Sweeney (17 – 0)
40+15 min: Pontypridd – T – Keiron Assiratti (22 – 0)
40+16 min: Half Time
55 min: Pontypridd – T – Penalty Try (29 – 0)
55 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Jordan Walters
70 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Jordan Walters
76 min: Aberavon – T – Rhodri Cole & C – Rhodri Cole (29 – 7)
80+3 min: Pontypridd – T – Gab Davies & C – Ceri Sweeney (36 – 7)
80+5 min: Pontypridd – T – Dale Stuckey & C – Ceri Sweeney (43 – 7)
80+8 min: Full Time