Bedwas RFC 30 Pontypridd RFC 27
Principality Welsh Premiership, Saturday 29th April 2017.
Match report and photography by Ian Lovell.
Both sides went into this game knowing that a win would ensure a top four finish with one game to play; the losers being kept waiting for another week. This saw a fast, open game with both sides making mistakes as nerves were jangling but ultimately a stunning comeback by Bedwas saw the home side claim the spoils in a dramatic finale.
Bedwas had the first chance for points after 7 minutes as Pontypridd were adjudged off-side. Richard Powell’s penalty shot hit the left hand post and bouncing out before being cleared to touch.
Pontypridd hit back shortly afterwards. An incisive break by Gary Williams set up a ruck won by Rhys Shellard the ball finding its way to centre Garyn Smith who ghosted through the Bedwas defence to touch down. Ceri Sweeney added the extras to put his side 7-0 ahead.
Bedwas thought they’d crossed after 15 minutes. Nicky Griffiths broke through but he was adjudged to have been held in the tackle before crossing and his effort was ruled out. The ensuing clearance penalty saw the ball kicked ‘dead’ 95 metres up field and Bedwas gained a 5 metre scrum. As had been the pattern from the off Bedwas were dominant in the tight and gained a penalty which again the scrum was the preferred option.
Nicky Griffiths collected the ball from the base of the scrum, his pass finding Richard Powell whose overhead flicked pass put Mathew John over in the corner. Powell confidently converted to level the scores.
Pontypridd countered and Bedwas were penalised for not rolling away at a tackle, Sweeney successfully notching the penalty chance. The lead did not last long as from the restart Pontypridd were adjudged to not releasing the ball in a tackle and Powell stepped up to slot the penalty chance and scores were level again.
Pontypridd looked to turn the screw but solid defence from Bedwas kept them at bay until sustained possession created a gap for Gary Williams to power through for a try. Sweeney successfully added the conversion as the referee blew for half time.
The second half began with further Pontypridd possession and after Garyn Smith made a break Ceri Sweeney scored a clever solo try as he ran through a static defence to cross. His conversion put his side 24 points to 10 ahead and with 34 minutes left Bedwas had a mountain to climb.
Pontypridd continued to attack to try and put the game to bed. However Bedwas winger Pat Lewis had other ideas as he intercepted a Pontypridd pass and then race 70 metres to touch down under the posts; Powell adding the conversion.
Back came Pontypridd and after gaining a penalty when Bedwas were adjudged off their feet at a ruck Sweeney had a chance to extend his sides lead. His penalty attempt hit the left hand upright as Powell’s unsuccessful had done earlier and although the rebound landed in Ponty hands the Bedwas defenders surrounded the Pontypridd player to earn a scrum.
With 15 minutes left to play an inside ball from Powell put Mathew John through for a break the ball being fed onto the supporting George Lee whose high pass found Pat Lewis to cross in the corner. The referee immediately went to the Television Match Official to check if Lee’s pass was forward and after an anxious wait the try was awarded. Powell produced an excellent kick from the acute angle to level the scores.
Bedwas took the lead for the first time on 72 minutes as Pontypridd were penalised at a ruck, Powell kept his nerve to slot the penalty form 23 metres.
Drama followed as with four minutes remaining replacement Bedwas prop Bryn Toms was adjudged to have collapsed a scrum and Sweeney stepped up to land the penalty to put his level again.
From the restart Ponty were adjudged not to have released the ball on the floor and the ensuing back chat saw the penalty moved back 10 metres to allow Powell a shot at goal he held his nerve to convert. More drama followed as again from the restart Ponty’s Gary Williams was adjudged (after the TMO reviewed the video) to have taken Bedwas’ out in the air. Bedwas cleared the penalty to touch and from the ensuing line out held possession for long enough to allow time to elapse before the ball was gleefully kicked into touch by Rowlands to spark Bedwas celebrations.
This win moves Bedwas to second place in the table with one game to play at third place Aberavon next Saturday (6th May). It is expected that the sides who finish in first and second place in the table will have home advantage in the play-offs with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd. Therefore a win for Bedwas will see them host Aberavon; a defeat will see them travelling to Aberavon.