Fixture

Pontypool RFC | 1st Team 39 - 13 Maesteg Harlequins RFC | 1st Team
Michael Owen
1 Try
Rhodri Davies
1 Conversion
Owen Howe
2 Penalty

Match Report
30 October 2018 / Team News

MATCH REPORT: PLENTY OF SPARK AT THE PARK

Saturday October 27th 2018

Pontypool 39 – 13 Maesteg Quins

WRU Championship

Is there such a thing as a ‘moral victory?’

Pontypool and Maesteg Harlequins met for the first time at Pontypool Park. Pooler came away with a bonus-point win that took them to the top of the WRU National Championship table. After Cardiff Metropolitan’s defeat at Narberth, the Gwent men are now the only Championship team with a 100% record.

Quins played downwards towards the scoreboard and on ten minutes were penalised at a scrum inside their twenty-five in front of the posts. Matthew Lewis slotted the kick.

On the quarter hour mark Quins conceded another penalty for a side entry at a ruck. Pooler kicked for the left corner and from the driving lineout, captain Rob Nash chewed through the maul to score a try.

If Quins conceded a host of penalties at the ruck, it was the midfield encroaching the offside line that was Pontypool’s Achilles heel. A couple of minutes later the hosts were caught offside in front of their posts inside their twenty-five and Owen Howe kicked the goal.

Nathan Smith was injured following a lineout incident and was stretchered off the field. After the ten minutes delay play restarted with a Pontypool scrum inside Quins twenty-five. The ball went right and after a number of rucks, flanker Scott Matthews was part of a maul that was driven over for an unconverted try.

With half-time approaching Matthews scored his second try following a rolling maul. Matthew Lewis added the extras.

Pooler again strayed offside on their twenty-five and Owen Howe kicked his second penalty and the half-time score stood at 20-6 to Pooler.

In the second minute of the second period, with a well-controlled drive Pooler pushed the Quins pack back to the try line and ‘goal-hanging’ flanker Scott Matthews scored his hat trick and bonus-point try. The conversion attempt failed.

Just after the hour mark and after putting pressure on the Quins’ defence with more forward drives, the ball reached second row Richard East who barged over in the right corner. Matthew Lewis kicked a conversion from wide out.

Pontypool had to fight for every one of their scores. There was no easy flowing ‘run in’ as the Quins tackled and knocked back home carrier after home carrier.

Without a doubt the scrummaging contest was the most powerful and evenly competitive in many a year, if not ever, as far as the Quins were concerned.

With ten minutes remaining Quins deservedly scored a try. Mike Owen chugged over in the left corner. Rhodri Davies converted.

Quins were now taking a more direct route with their running and this paid great dividends. Aled Edwards made a couple of nice breaks. Kieran Griffiths added a number of tackle breaking, ground making runs to his great scrummaging, exceptional mauling and jackalling performance.

Matthew Lewis made a great break and looping forty yards. Passing to Jordan Thomas near the twenty-five, the wing made good ground. Tackled short of the line, the ball was recycled and replacement scrum half Martin Luckwell picked up the ball and dived over for a try. Matthew Lewis added two points.

Quins support were delighted to see the return of Tom Bluck after a three seasons absence. His handling and a well timed crunching tackle proved Bluck is back in the saddle. Another individual who needs to be singled out is Quins forwards coach Mark Thomas who trotted out onto Pontypool Park during this period of crisis and was at the heart of all the close quarter defence.

Rhodri Davies threaded a pinpoint grubber through Pontypool’s midfield. Geraint Evans showed remarkable pace and determination to touchdown under the posts. Strangely the referee waited for the move to be fully completed before belatedly and incorrectly signalling an offside against Evans.

This was a comfortable victory for the hosts. Pooler were too strong for the Quins, but giving up was not in the coal black and blood reds’ vocabulary. The efforts of all who took the field were admired and appreciated by every Quins follower and generously by Pontypool’s hierarchy. In a league in which half the clubs distribute dough, with Pontypool the most generous, this could be seen as a moral victory. However much moral victories don’t accrue league points, it would be an unnecessary unfairness not to recognise the splendid efforts of this Quins team against the odds of remuneration – league points or not.

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