PONTYPOOL staged a second half comeback to secure all five points in a very tough tussle with battling Bargoed at Bargoed Park in this WRU Admiral National Championship match, writes Ray Ruddick.

Once again Pooler were slow out of the starting blocks and Bargoed took a deserved 14-0 lead inside the first quarter-of-an-hour, but an impressive second half showing gave the visitors a well-earned victory.

Bargoed were playing with the breeze in the first half and made a strong start, dominating territory and possession. In the eighth minute pressure eventually told on the Pooler defence when, following a scrum penalty to the home side, they decided to kick for the right corner and, from the resulting driving maul, hooker Wade Langley opened the scoring with a try to the right of the posts, which was converted by centre Steffan Jones. Six minutes later Steffan Jones put in a diagonal kick towards the right corner and right wing David Evans managed to jump and gather the ball to score a try in the right corner. Steffan Jones added the extras to put Bargoed 14 points clear of their opponents.

In the 28th minute Pooler hit back with a try by centre Deon Smith. There was no further score in this tense first half with Bargoed going into the break nine points to the good.

Half-time score – Bargoed 14 Pontypool 5.

In the 56th minute Pooler were awarded a penalty and elected to kick for the right corner. From the ensuing driving lineout, veteran second row Ashley Sweet claimed a try, 15 metres in from the right corner which Matthew Jarvis converted, despite slipping (14-12).

In the 64th minute Pooler were asking questions of the home defence with some powerful forward drives and, eventually Wales Under 20 hooker Sam Scarfe barged over for a try under the posts. Matthew Jarvis slotted the easy conversion and Pontypool were ahead for the first time in the game. In the 70th minute Pooler captain and No 8 Scott Matthews was yellow-carded when play was near Pooler’s goal line. Bargoed looked as if they were going to level matters, or even re-take the lead, particularly with a man advantage, but Pooler dug deep and their defence held firm.

In the 77th minute Pontypool were awarded a free kick inside Bargoed’s 22 to the right of the posts and opted for a scrum. Dai Langdon was in the first receiver position and he offloaded to Joel Mahoney who took the ball at pace and on an angle, and the centre crossed for the bonus-point try near the posts. Once again Matthew Jarvis made no mistake with the conversion, his 100th conversion and 256 points in the 20 league and cup games he has appeared in this season. Pontypool closed the game out in the final few minutes to record their third victory over Bargoed this season.

Bargoed 14 Pontypool 26

Bargoed: Dylan Williams, David Evans, Oli Andrews (replaced by Matthew Lewis), Steffan Jones, Adam Jones (replaced by Duane Dyer), Josh Prosser, James Leadbeater, Kieron Brown (captain, replaced by Aaron Elliott), Wade Langley (replaced by Lewys Lippiett), Keegan Bale, James Locke, Owain Cooper, Lewis Johnson (replaced by Corrie Thomas), Callum Meyrick (replaced by the returning Wade Langley) and Tom Rice.

Bargoed scorers: Tries by Wade Langley and David Evans. Conversions by Steffan Jones (2).

Pontypool: Dai Langdon (replaced by Geraint Walsh), Mathew Powell, Deon Smith (replaced by the returning Dai Langdon), Joel Mahoney (replaced by the returning Deon Smith), Amosa Nove, Matthew Jarvis, Owain Leonard (replaced by Morgan Lloyd), Kyan Best, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Sam Scarfe, then Scarfe was replaced by the returning Lloyd), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Lewis Price-Jones), Garin Price (replaced by Ieuan Jones), Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert, Callum Davies and Scott Matthews (captain).

Pontypool scorers: Tries by Deon Smith, Ashley Sweet, Sam Scarfe and Joel Mahoney. Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (3).

Referee: Mr Elfyn Morris-Roberts (Ystradgynlais)