PONTYPOOL travelled to the capital on Saturday to take on the students of Cardiff Metropolitan University at Cyncoed Campus knowing that a bonus-point win would see them as WRU Admiral National Championship Champions, having already gained promotion the previous weekend, writes Ray Ruddick.

In a game full of enterprise, Pooler proved too strong for their opponents, out-scoring the students by ten tries to three in an end-of-season 90-point extravaganza.

Cardiff Met kicked off defending the scoreboard end of the ground on a warm and sunny afternoon, perfect conditions for open, expansive rugby.

In the 4th minute Pooler were on the attack inside Met’s 22, following flanker and captain-for-the day Mike Herbert’s strong run and, after several drives towards the home goal line, the ball was released and play went right for loose head prop Sam Cochrane to dive over for the opening try of the game to the right of the posts. Outside half Matthew Jarvis converted (0-7).

Two minutes later the students replied when a Pooler pass was intercepted on half-way and left wing Josh Carrington sprinted 50 metres to score a try under the posts, converted by outside half Jamin Hodgkins (7-7).

In the 18th minute Pontypool won turnover ball near Met’s 22 on Pooler’s left. The visitors put the home defence under pressure and that pressure told when flanker Adam Stratton powered his way over to the right of the posts. Matthew Jarvis added the conversion (7-14).

Midway through the first period Pooler were penalised for going over the top at a ruck just outside their 22 on Met’s right. Up stepped Jamin Hodgkins and he made no mistake with his attempt at goal to narrow the deficit to four points (10-14).

In the 26th minute the students were penalised at a scrum in midfield, just outside their 22. Matthew Jarvis kicked for the right corner and, from the ensuing driving lineout, hooker Peter Lloyd crashed over for a try wide out and the conversion attempt went narrowly wide (10-19).

Two minutes later Pontypool were again on the attack and the ball went wide for full back Pat Lewis scoring the bonus-point try in the left corner. This score was superbly converted by Matthew Jarvis (10-26).

Seven minutes before the interval, more relentless pressure by the visitors resulted in a try, his first for the club, by second row Alex Grey, who barged over under the posts. Matthew Jarvis added the extras (10-33).

In the 37th minute, Pontypool’s right wing Mathew Powell took a heavy knock to his knee in front of the stand and was replaced by Dai Langdon who went to outside half, Matthew Jarvis dropped to full back and Pat Lewis went onto the right wing. Then, in time added on for stoppages at the end of an absorbing first half, Cardiff Met hit back with a try to the right of the posts by flanker Evan Sheldon, converted by Jamin Hodgkins.

Half time score – Cardiff Metropolitan University 17 Pontypool 33.

In the 5th minute of the second half Met flanker Ewan Guy was shown the yellow card for deliberately handling in a ruck and slowing play down on Met’s 10-metre line in midfield. Pooler kicked for touch following the penalty and, from the powerful driving maul, Mike Herbert scored an unconverted try, 10 metres in from the left corner (17-38).

In the 50th minute Pooler flanker Callum Davies, who was making his 50th appearance for the club, was replaced by Scott Matthews. Two minutes later Pontypool’s defence were caught off-guard when Met second row Liam Antrobus broke through the middle inside Pooler’s 22 and passed to replacement scrum half Zak Roberts who scored a try, 10 metres in from the right corner. Centre Steff Crimp converted (24-38).

In the 57th minute Pooler had a lineout throw deep inside the students’ 22 on their left. The dominant Pooler pack drove their opponents back and Peter Lloyd benefited with his second try of the afternoon. Once again, Matthew Jarvis converted (24-45).

On the hour Pontypool gave the ball width and, after some good handling, Pat Lewis glided over in the right corner for his brace. Matthew Jarvis added two more points from the tee with another fine kick (24-52).

Pontypool then made some changes with Tom Piper taking over from tight head prop Kelvyn Williams and Adam Stratton made way for Ieuan Jones in the back row. Four minutes later Aneurin Jenkins came on for Peter Lloyd in the middle of the Pooler front row. Shortly after, visiting centre Deon Smith hobbled off and was replaced by the returning Adam Stratton, who went back into the back row and Mike Herbert dropped out of the pack and into the backs. With five minutes remaining Pooler were on the charge yet again and Scott Matthews scored a try from close range, near the posts. Matthew Jarvis obliged from the tee (24-59).

Then in injury time and last play, Pontypool’s great support play was rewarded when Adam Stratton crossed for his brace and Pontypool’s tenth try of the match. Matthew Jarvis slotted his eighth conversion.

Final score – Cardiff Metropolitan University 24 Pontypool 66.

It was a great all-round performance by Pontypool however Sam Cochrane was quite outstanding throughout the match in both the loose and tight. Well done to both sides on producing a thoroughly entertaining and enthralling encounter.

However, every credit and huge congratulations must go to the whole Pontypool playing squad led by influential captain Scott Matthews, the coaches, headed up by Leighton Jones and the medical team for such an outstanding season and getting the club back in the Premiership for next season.

Nevertheless, this season is not yet over as Pooler have two more games to play in the coming week.

On Tuesday Pooler face Ystrad Rhondda at Gelligaled Park in a re-match of the WRU Championship Cup Final, kick-off 7.30pm and the final match of the campaign will be on Saturday when Pontypool visit Ynysydarren Ground to take on Ystalyfera, kick-off 2.30pm.

Cardiff Met: Sam Trodd, Ben Parsons, Gus Patterson, Steff Crimp, Josh Carrington, Jamin Hodgkins, Alex Terry, Ben Murphy (captain), George Merritt, Tom Pritchard, Liam Antrobus, Gethyn Cannon, Evan Sheldon, Ewan Guy and Ardall Yallop. Replacements – Matt Peters, Jordan Morris, Alex Long, Zak Roberts and Chris Johnson.

Cardiff Met scorers: Tries by Josh Carrington, Evan Sheldon and Zak Roberts. Conversions by Jamin Hodgkins (2) and Steff Crimp. Penalty by Jamin Hodgkins.

Pontypool: Pat Lewis, Matthew Powell (replaced by Dai Langdon), Deon Smith (replaced by the returning Adam Stratton), Duan Thomas, Amosa Nove, Matthew Jarvis, Morgan Lloyd, Sam Cochrane, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Aneurin Jenkins), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Tom Piper), Alex Grey, Ashley Sweet, Callum Davies (replaced by Scott Matthews), Adam Stratton (replaced by Ieuan Jones) and Mike Herbert (captain).

Pontypool scorers: Tries by Adam Stratton (2), Peter Lloyd (2), Pat Lewis (2), Sam Cochrane, Alex Grey, Mike Herbert and Scott Matthews. Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (8).

Referee: Mr Keith David (Bridgend)