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Rugby Union: Pontypridd's backs help overcome combative visitors

Pontypridd 34 Namibia 3
Rob Cole

Pontypridd 34

Namibia 3

Anyone who thought that the international phase of the Welsh Rugby Union Challenge Trophy was going to be a non-contest should have been at Sardis Road to see Namibia battling against the reigning Welsh champions.

The WRU, seeking to fill the fixture gaps left by the reduction from 12 to eight teams in their Premier Division, decided to import seven overseas sides at the small cost of pounds 350,000 to provide some different, but meaningful opposition.

Until the weekend everybody had ridiculed the idea, but the combative way in which Cordoba, from Argentina, got stuck into Bridgend, and the physical approach adopted by the Namibians proved this rugby was for real.

After the first round of matches the Welsh clubs came out on top, although it took an injury-time penalty from Frano Botica to save Llanelli and force a 40-40 draw with Tucuman.

Ponty relied on a hat-trick from their new Wales wing Gareth Wyatt to help them overcome a young Namibian side who had full-back Batti Samuelson sent off at the end of the first half for kicking Jason Lewis at a ruck.

Referee Clayton Thomas also issued yellow cards to the visitors' skipper Quin Hough for fighting in the 26th minute and another to Dion Gouws 10 minutes later when he kneed Wyatt in the back after the winger dived to score his second try.

Pontypridd were given a tough test up front, where the Namibians were well served by their athletic second-row pairing of Hardus Swart and Pieter Steyn, but the home side always had a little bit too much behind the scrum.

All five of their tries came from their back division with Wyatt profiting the most.

It was the left wing Andre Barnard who set the ball rolling in the 11th minute when he switched with Kevin Morgan to score at the corner.

Four minutes later the Namibian outside-half Rudie Van Vuuren grabbed his side's only points when he kicked a 40-metre penalty. By half-time Wyatt had latched on to a grubber kick by Neil Jenkins to claim his first try and Jenkins converted to make it 12-3.

Jenkins extended the lead with a penalty shortly after the break and then Wyatt ran in two more tries but the best was saved for last as Pontypridd's in-form centre Dafydd James raced 60 metres to round off the game in fine style.

Pontypridd: Tries: T Wyatt 3, Barnard, James; Conversions Jenkins 3; Penalty Jenkins. Namibia: Penalty Van Vuuen.

Pontypridd: K Morgan; G Wyatt (J Lewis, 38-40), D James, S Lewis, A Barnard; N Jenkins (capt), Paul John, A Griffiths (M Griffiths, 60); A Lamerton (Phil John, 60), N Eynon, S Roy (S Bundy, 72), M Rowley, M Lloyd, D McIntosh, M Williams (G P Lewis, 22-27).

Namibia: A Samuelson; D Farmer, T Steenkamp (R Pedro, 75), L Holtzhausen, D Gouws (F Hartung, 73); R Van Vuuen, J Zaawman (R Jantjies, 73); D Vermeulen, R Van Zyl, A Blaauw (H Horn, 76), H Swart, P Steyn, Q Hough (capt), K Horn, T Van Rooyen (J Dames, 73).

Referee: C Thomas (Swansea).