PONTYPOOL travelled to the Rhondda Valley and to Gelligaled Park on Tuesday to take on Ystrad Rhondda in their penultimate game of the season – and what a game it turned out to be, writes Ray Ruddick.

Pooler made some uncharacteristic mistakes, particularly in the first half and Ystrad took advantage.

The Rhondda men were never behind in the game until the final action of a pulsating match when, in the 86th minute and Pooler behind by a point, up stepped outside half Dai Langdon to save Pontypool’s 100 per cent record with Pooler’s first drop goal of the season – a priceless three points to steal victory away from a very well organised and most efficient Ystrad Rhondda side.

Ystrad Rhondda kicked off attacking the railway end of the ground on a lovely sunny evening.

As early as the second minute Pontypool were penalised at a scrum just outside their 22 in midfield and home outside half Rhys Truelove put his side into the lead with a successful shot at goal (3-0).

Four minutes later Pooler conceded another penalty, at a maul inside their 22 on Ystrad’s left but the shot at goal went wide.

In the 11th minute Ystrad were on the attack inside the visitors’ 22, play went left and flanker Jarred Llewellyn scored a try, five metres in from the left corner. This score was converted by Rhys Truelove (10-0).

Five minutes later the home side extended their lead when left wing Kurtis Williams scored in the left corner after Ystrad had asked questions of the Pooler defence and the ball was moved wide. The conversion failed (15-0).

It was all Ystrad in the first 20 minutes and they were full value for their 15-point lead but then Pontypool started to play with a bit more purpose. Pooler had a throw in on their left and inside the home 22.

The ball reached young scrum half Morgan Lloyd who dummied his way over for a try under the posts. Matthew Jarvis, normally at outside half but playing at full back in this match, slotted the easy conversion (15-7).

Just before the half hour mark Ystrad extended their lead when flanker Morgan Burgess pounced on a Pooler mistake near the visitors’ 22 and scored a try 15 metres in from the left corner. Rhys Truelove added the extras (22-7).

In the 34th minute Ystrad were penalised inside their 22 so Pontypool kicked for the left corner. From the ensuing driving lineout, hooker Peter Lloyd barged over for a try near the corner flag. Matthew Jarvis converted.

Half time score – Ystrad Rhondda 22 Pontypool 14.

At the start of the second period, Pontypool made a couple of changes as Alex Grey took over from Adam Brown in the second row and flanker Adam Stratton made way for Callum Davies.

In the 54th minute Peter Lloyd scored his second try of the game in the left corner from a driving lineout. Matthew Jarvis added a further two points with a fine conversion (22-21).

Five minutes later back came the home side and they were pressing inside Pooler’s 22 when Kurtis Williams sliced through to score Ystrad’s bonus-point try under the posts. Rhys Truelove converted (29-21).

Then Morgan Lloyd made way for Dai Jones for Pooler. In the 65th minute play was deep inside Ystrad’s 22 when replacement Alex Grey powered over for the bonus-point try near the left corner. The dependable Matthew Jarvis slotted another fine conversion (29-28).

In the 73rd minute Tom Piper replaced tight head prop Kelvyn Williams and Peter Lloyd made way for Darren Hughes as Pooler made two late front row changes. Six minutes later, Alex Grey took a knock and was replaced by the returning Adam Stratton.

So, in injury time and Pontypool had a throw in near half-way on their left. They kept ball under control and in hand for the last four minutes, building momentum with both forwards and backs involved, going through many phases, gaining ground, being disciplined, kept their composure and showing a great deal of character, patience and perseverance.

Pooler took play inside Ystrad’s 22 in midfield and Dai Langdon with the posts in his sights, received a pass and with his trusty left boot, and under pressure from the rushing Ystrad defence, coolly and calmly slotted the drop goal with the final kick of the game to seal a huge win – it could not have been any closer.

Final score – Ystrad Rhondda 29 Pontypool 31.

This thrilling match was a wonderful advert for club rugby in Wales. Both teams must be congratulated on putting on such a fine show in front of a large crowd.

The match was superbly handled by one of the leading referees in Wales, Gwyn Morris of Cardiff, so well done to him as he also contributed to a great spectacle.

Pontypool have met Ystrad Rhondda three times this season and all three have been close-run affairs, but this was by far the closest and toughest.

For Pontypool’s final match of the season, and potentially history-making, they are on the road again with a visit to Ynysydarren Ground to face Ystalyfera on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.

If Pontypool can beat Ystalyfera then they will achieve something special by winning every game this season.

Ystrad Rhondda: Josh Williams, Alex Webber, Cavan Davies, Cole Morgan, Kurtis Williams, Rhys Truelove, Callum Phillips, Tom Foulkes, Liam Wiggins (captain), Jordan Pritchard, Nathan Hughes, Shay Smallman, Morgan Burgess, Jarred Llewellyn and Kelly Jones. Replacements – Callum Dawe, Corben Evans, Rhys Dauncey, Tom Jevons and Jack Foulkes.

Pontypool: Matthew Jarvis, Marcus Jones, Pat Lewis, Duan Thomas, Amosa Nove, Dai Langdon, Morgan Lloyd (replaced by Dai Jones), Sam Cochrane, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Darren Hughes), Kelvyn Williams (replaced by Tom Piper), Adam Brown (replaced by Alex Grey, then he was replaced by the returning Adam Stratton), Ashley Sweet, Mike Herbert, Adam Stratton (replaced by Callum Davies) and Scott Matthews (captain).