By Geoff Watkins
A dull overcast day, the Bridgefield in ideal condition for running rugby, the match fulfilling its promise with both sides playing a fast, open game.
Bedwas opened well, good field position in the corner, an aggressive drive over the line bringing a third minute try for hooker BEN FLOWER converted by outside half JASON TOVEY.
Pontypridd had a seventh minute penalty go wide but Bedwas then swept forward, a scything break by scrum half SIMON JONES threatened the line but Ponty’s defence in numbers prevented a score. As Bedwas stepped up the pressure the Ponty defence was forced into killing the ball once too often for referee Mr Ballard’s liking and flanker GERAINT LEWIS found himself sin-binned. Bedwas set up a series of attacks, a blatant obstruction on JASON TOVEY going unnoticed in front of the posts. Ponty began to fight back with their heavier pack surging forward for outside half NEIL BURNETT to open their account with a straight penalty. Ponty continued to attack but a heavy tackling resolute home defence kept them at bay.
Half time score Bedwas 7 Pontypridd 3, Pontypridd’s territorial advantage was not matched by clinical finishing.
Pontypridd started the second half with a bang. Right wing DAN HITCHINGS racing down the touchline, breaking a tackle and over in the corner for a 45th minute try to put Ponty ahead for the first time.
Bedwas replaced BEN FLOWER with PETER HARRISON as the visitors camped in the Bedwas half enjoying a purple patch of sustained, bruising pressure rugby. This was further rewarded when a pile up over the line saw Ponty Captain/number 8 NATHAN STRONG claim a crucial try, NEIL BURNETT adding the extras.
Both sides made several substitutions. Bedwas at centre, prop and flanker, the pace of the game never slacking and no quarter given as both sets of forwards smashed into the rucks and mauls. Bedwas replaced scrum half SIMON JONES with JAMES PIZEY and a powerful drive saw replacement prop BRIAN EDWARDS go over for a 67th minute try to reduce the deficit to three points and anybody’s game.
In the final stages Bedwas had two penalty chances drifting wide, Pontypridd coming back at the very end with two penalties from NEIL BURNETT in the 79th and 81st minutes to seal the match.
Overall, an entertaining match to open the season, Bedwas creating the chances to score but Ponty probably deserved their win with more possession in the second half.
Next Saturday, 8th September sees Bedwas entertain Llandovery, kick off 2-30 p.m.
BEDWAS coach Steve Law
‘A very close fought game. Bedwas had the better of the first half but missed some opportunities. Very pleased with our defence, we numbered up well and tackled well. The opportunities missed hurt us in the second half, but ultimately it was the first match of the season and both sides were match rusty. What cost us most was lack of lineout possession which dried up second half and our inability to finish off mechanical set pieces. Without the ball you cannot play rugby and Pontypridd had 70% of the ball second half’
PONTYPRIDD coach Paul John
Nice to get a win, we struggled first half against a hard, aggressive Bedwas unit and were lucky to be only 7-3 down at half time. Bedwas always give us a hard match and this was our first win in four attempts at the Bridgefield.. We achieved a better structure second half and a crucial match turning try, and from that point held together to prevent a Bedwas comeback. Away results are always important.