The visitors began in a lively fashion and took advantage of a poor Carmarthen kicking game to gain territorial advantage so that the home side had to tackle manfully. The “Valley Commandos” were three penalties to the good from the trusty boot of Dai Flanagan before the Quins really got into the game. Dan Newton did reduce the deficit with a penalty of his own after taking over the kicking duties from the out of form, James Dixon.
With time running out in the half Gareth James passed inside to Dan Godfrey who made 25m. before releasing the ball along the line. Dafydd Lockyer was brought down short of the line but in the ensuing scramble Gavin Evans was yellow carded. On the next scrum a rampant Pontypridd pack used their numerical advantage to push over the line and allow Godfrey to touch down. Flanagan added the extras and the score was 16-3 to the visitors.
The Quins battled hard in the first half and had a number of players like James Davies, Lee Williams and Andrew Banfield showing individual flair but the team lacked cohesion and tactically put themselves under pressure.
Soon after the break Flanagan put his team further into the lead with another penalty but the Quins now looked more together and committed this half. Fine runs particularly by Alex Pickersgill, Jason Harries, Haydn Pugh and Gavin Evans put pressure on the opposition and Newton bagged another two penalties as a result. The pressure also caused Wayne O’Connor to rest his feet for ten minutes in the bin.
Towards the end of the third quarter the Quins moved the ball wide to Lee Williams who sped down the wing before kicking on. The Ponty full back won the race but took the ball over the line to concede a 5m. scrum. A penalty resulted which was taken quickly by Rhodri Wells and the old warhorse, Andrew Thomas, was over in the corner. Newton added to the score with a touchline conversion.
With the game now in the balance the rugby was at its best from a spectator’s point of view with two highly committed sides throwing everything at each other. James Dixon was now possibly gaining the upper hand dictating the game and with Banfield and Newton running off him Carmarthen looked dangerous.
Both sides were counter-attacking at pace. One minute Jason Harries had to make a try saving tackle in his own “22” and then the Quins were denied a try in the Ponty “22” for crossing. Substitute, Tom Rees made a run and kicked on but he was denied a score when the visitors scrambled the ball over the dead ball line.
Eventually, however, Pontypridd finished off the entertainment and the scoring with a late try. Concerted pressure caused Andrew Thomas to be sin binned and then Cory Hill forced himself over for an unconverted touchdown which also prevented the Quins from securing any points from the fixture.
The final score was Carmarthen Quins 16 Pontypridd 24. The impressive home record was broken and it also proved that you cannot give well coached, top sides a sixteen point start.
Reporter ~ Keith Bond.