Pontypool 44 Bedwas 29

A STUNNING first half blitz ensured Pontypool destroyed Bedwas to climb off the bottom of the Premiership and keep the dream of another great escape well and truly alive.

Pooler played with pace, accuracy and ambition that their visitors could not live with and had a four-try bonus point before the whistle was blown for half-time.

Pontypool played terrific rugby, in fact it was so good that it begged the question as to how they have found themselves in such a mess for the second season running. The answer came after the break thanks to some hapless defending.

At times it was a game that was more like a Super 14 clash than one between regional rivals with players flying through gaps at pace and defending seeming to be an option that didn't interest some.

Tom Hancock pulled the strings superbly from fly-half, prop Neil Giles showed lovely hands and a turn of speed and number eight Geraint Morris and lock Sam Pailor provided plenty of go-forward.

Yet their success was not just down to their skills and handling – efficient work at the breakdown by the likes of flanker Cae Trayhern and Rhys Bowen ensured quick ball for the runners to use.

They cut Bedwas wide open to climb above relegation rivals Ebbw Vale, albeit after playing a game more.

That they scored five tries on one evening and the Steelmen have scored 10 all season (hence Pooler go above them in the table) suggests it would be wise to back Pooler in the dogfight.

They were out of sight by half time, crossing for five tries for a 38-10 lead.

Hancock got the ball rolling with an early penalty and wing Gareth Williams went over in the corner after Bedwas had been stretched from side to side.

Number 10 Adam Greendale struck a penalty but the hosts went straight down the other end for try number two, hardworking flanker Trayhern going under the sticks after lock Dale Critchley was dragged down just short.

It didn’t look likely to be an easy evening on 21 minutes when Bedwas full-back Stuart Thomas hit the line at speed to break through before calmly putting number eight Luke Dyckoff over, Greendale adding the extras to cut the gap to seven.

Yet Pooler nerves were well and truly settled with three more tries before the break.

First a lovely disguised Hancock pass put centre Chris Macey over under the sticks, then Morris barged his way over and Williams intercepted for his second.

Hancock maintained his perfect kicking to make it 38-10 and it seemed game over.

The Pooler half-time talk would have been about keeping on playing with intent but also defending hard to ensure there was no way back for Bedwas.

It was all going to plan until 57 minutes when referee Sean Brickell (correctly, despite howls of derision) awarded a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on by full-back Steve Taylor.

A Hancock penalty made it seem that all the visitors had to play for was their own four-try bonus and it was in the bag on 71 minutes thanks to Andrew Mc-Laughlan and Adam Williams.

Defence is certainly Pooler’s Achilles heel and suddenly it was 41-29 – the Pooler faithful must have finger nails like Abu Hamza. Yet thankfully for them another Hancock penalty meant a stress-free conclusion.

Pontypool scorers: tries - G Williams (2), C Trayhern, C Macey, G Morris; conversions - T Hancock (5); penalties - T Hancock (3) Bedwas scorers: tries - L Dyckoff, penalty, A McLaughlan, A Williams; conversions - A Greendale (3); penalty - A Greendale