Rugby Union: Pontypool Utd 36 Caerphilly RFC 23
Match report and photography by Mark Tamplin
SWALEC Division Three East, Saturday September 7.
Caerphilly opened their 2013/14 league season with a visit to The Memorial Ground – home of Pontypool Utd and traditionally a luckless ground for the club suffering heavy defeats over previous seasons.
Absences decimated the selection process for the Castletown side as they travelled with very few players available. However, the side surpassed expectations as they came within a whisper of defeating the Gwent side in their own backyard, despite losing full back James Kestell in the first ten minutes.
Caerphilly dominated the first quarter, but were unable to put points on the board, outside half Luke Williams spurning two chances at goal.
It was Pontypool that opened the scoring. With Caerphilly on the attack, the home side ripped the ball from an attack in the 22, and with the Caerphilly defence in attack mode, a pass out to the winger saw him run the length of the field to score a converted try.
The home side scored again after 24 minutes. Another mistake by Caerphilly saw them lose possession on their five metre zone. Pontypool spread the ball wide before scoring an unconverted try to increase the lead 12-0.
Caerphilly opened their scoring with well worked try on 28 minutes. Winning a penalty just outside the 22, the quick tap by flanker Bob England took play up to the five metre line. Spinning the ball to the centres, scrum half Joe Bray wrapped round to receive the ball, spinning out of the tackle, twice, the youngster crossed the line, Williams converting. Pooler grabbed two penalties before the half time whistle to leave the score at 18-7.
It was the home side that came out strong, scoring a penalty from the outside half, in front of the posts after just 42 minutes, and again converting on 49, as Bray was sent to the sin bin for a 10 minute cool off, leaving Caerphilly with 14 men and a deficit of 23-7.
The visitors sprung into action, faced with adversity, to their credit. The loss of prop Anthony Howarth brought Coach Kieran Crawford from the bench, forced out of retirement due to the lack of available players, followed by the loss of the other prop Josh Spragg, minutes later with an arm injury. A converted penalty form Williams opening his account was quickly followed with a charge down by the young Caerphilly side, resulting in a try for centre Will Worthington in the corner, spurning a rowdy response from the visiting supporters.
With the points difference at six, following another penalty from Williams, Caerphilly had the chance for the lead, following a strong attack on the Pontypool line. However centre Chris Thomas failed to hold on to a pass from a five metre scum, before missing a centre field tackle, Pooler travelling the length of the field to score again. This was followed minutes later by a lineout loss, deep in their 22, for the home side to cross again with minutes remaining.
The Caerphilly side never gave up and scored another try on the final whistle, Worthington grabbing his brace to leave the score at 36-23.
Caerphilly welcome Abergavenny to Virginia Park next weekend, whilst the Youth team kick off their season welcoming Bargoed to Virginia Park. Both games kicking off at 2.30pm.