Pontypool Park was, as ever, beautifully presented and a large and vocal home support got what they wanted in terms of a relatively trouble free win. The weather made it difficult for either side to entertain and there was the unsightly passive scrum to further mar proceedings. Speaking from the other end of the spectrum I have every sympathy with the Pontypool support who may have been relying on some late scrum power to rub in their advantage. The fact is that Beddau tight head Meurig Davies suffered a leg injury inside the first ten minutes and replacement Cerith Jones, a loose head by inclination, was also forced to leave after a heavy collision left him less than aware of everything that was going on.
The early exchanges suggested that injury-ravaged Beddau were at least going to compete and an early surge behind a lineout saw the forwards reach the line. Glenn Slater certainly felt that he had scored but there was no blaming Mr Morris-Roberts who couldn`t be sure of the grounding.
Shortly afterwards, Beddau, already without senior props Owen Cotton and Adam Court had lost the powerful Meurig Davies. Cerith Jones, perhaps one of the unluckiest players in the game took his place. Cerith has suffered a broken leg that kept him out for more than a year, a lengthy concussion lay-off and a worrying neck injury which threatened to leave him permanently side-lined yet here he was putting in a manful shift until again being laid low.
Pontypool`s opening score was a thing of beauty. A pass from scrum half Rhys Dyer from a defensive position briefly opened up the possibilities. Quick thinking, good angles of running and prompt support turned them into probabilities and flanker Rob Nash finished for an excellent score that Matthew Jones improved. Pooler`s next try also profited from good use of the ball and centre Dan Robinson finished well but it was ball they should have been denied. A Beddau lineout was disrupted by a Pontypool hand. Nothing wrong with that except that the ball was knocked-on and rebounded from a Beddau forward into the grateful hands of Rhys Dyer. Matthew Jones added the points.
If Beddau were harshly dealt with there then the penalty try granted on the stroke of half time rubbed salt in. Pooler were advancing a scrum but the movement had halted and Pooler Number 8 Ben Sparks lost the ball in attempting to control it with his foot. Carl Lewis, quite legitimately grabbed the loose ball only to see Mr Morris-Roberts go beneath the posts. Matthew Jones made it 21-0 at half time.
A determined Beddau made a bright start to the second period and both Rob Jones and Tyler Wells had already been denied at the line when, at the fourth penalty award in the 22 Pooler flanker Rob Nash was yellow-carded. What outrage! A Pontypool forward? Aaron Coundley`s clenched fist on the end of a swinging arm wasn`t worthy of censure so perhaps the Pontypool support was right to see an injustice in the way Nash was treated.
Beddau could not turn the situation to advantage and the loss of Cerith Jones was of no more help to the visitors even if the uncontested scrum was viewed as a negative by the home support. Beddau`s attempt to replace Jones with promising lock Ryan Bean was denied by the referee as a nominated front row replacement, hooker Matthew Howells, hadn`t been called on.
Pooler threw everything into the efforts to gain a bonus point but Beddau resisted stoutly and kept the second half scoreless.
Report by Lynn West