Cardiff Met 44-17 Pontypool RFC
IT was a long night for Pontypool RFC in Cardiff, as the students from Cardiff Metropolitan University kept up their push for a play-off spot with a comprehensive 44-17 win.
On a freezing night in Cyncoed, Met, by far and away one of the best sides in the Swalec Championship, were utterly sublime as they rattled up five tries in their bonus point win.
Fearsomely athletic across the park, not one of their players looked anything less than utterly comfortable with ball in hand, and when they attacked it was like a hail storm of maroon and gold shirted bodies peppering the Pontypool defensive line.
If you don’t enjoy watching them play, then rugby union probably isn’t the game for you.
Pooler’s discipline, or lack of it, disappointed head coach Mike Hook, and it certainly didn’t aid their efforts in repelling wave after wave of Met attacks.
The visitors coughed up three cheap penalties having barely touched the ball themselves inside the first quarter of an hour, with two of the three knocked over by assured outside-half Matt O’Brien.
With Pooler’s first foray outside their own half they earned a kickable penalty, but Clayton Gullis pushed it left.
They were made to pay, Met striking after neat hands released winger James Beal to strike.
Pooler had a chance to relieve the pressure but a penalty at the ruck, not for the first or last time on the night, meant all their resolute defensive work was undone by allowing the home side to tee up yet more pulses of pressure.
Such a phase of play wasn’t far away.
With Pooler simply running out of defenders No.8 Charlie Stevenson strolled over, O’Brien adding to an earlier conversion to make it 20-0 after half an hour.
Pooler responded with a well worked try for Gullis, but a cheap penalty conceded by Mike Barber for a late hit on impressive Met full-back Guy Woods, allowed the hosts back into good field position.
Wing Pierre Tucker made the break, and Woods, who must surely be attracting pro-clubs attention, finished off to make it 27-5 at the break.
Pooler struck back from the kick-off in a frenetic period of play, Ryan Owen on his return to the club on permit from Bedwas finishing a good spell of pressure, with Gullis converting, but Pontypool couldn’t craft that into sustained pressure.
Another O’Brien penalty preceded a sin-binning for Barber, and Met began to find their fluency again.
A brace for second-row Nick Leach, both converted by O’Brien sealed the bonus point, but Pooler signed off a tough night with a nice piece of individual skill.
Debutant Trevor James first competed for the restart before chipping ahead, calmly regathering the ball and racing in to score, Gullis missing the conversion from wide on the right.
Pontypool: Gullis, Owen, Norton, Macey, James, Mills, Roberts, D Morgan, Parry, Walker, Tyler, M Thomas, Barber, Goodman, Dyckhoff
Free Press Man of the Match: Charlie Stevenson (Cardiff Met)