Ponty steamroller straight through history

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The Independent Online

Marketing gimmicks are not confined just to the big boys. The catchy slogan featured in all the pre-match hype was: "Roll up for the full Ponty", as the west Wales village club played host to their illustrious visitors from the east in the sixth round of the Principality Cup.

Marketing gimmicks are not confined just to the big boys. The catchy slogan featured in all the pre-match hype was: "Roll up for the full Ponty", as the west Wales village club played host to their illustrious visitors from the east in the sixth round of the Principality Cup.

Despite the home side taking an early lead, the forceful, if not the full, power of Ponty-pridd was unleashed on the villagers, and the match illustrated the ever-increasing chasm between the full-time and the amateur games.

With the contest effectively over at the end of the first quarter Pontyberem, when they were able to secure possession, showed that there is still room for subtle and natural skills, although power, pace and strength are now the essential ingredients for success.

Pontyberem is an archetypal mining village, which has remained singularly Welsh in character, culture and language. Their secretary, Eldon Lewis, said that they even train and play in Welsh - and you knew what he meant.

The residents of many generations have been both burdened and enriched by the industrial revolution, and until relatively recently were dependent on coal for their livelihood. Today, it is dole, not coal, and the only anthracite dust is that lining the lungs of the old miners, many of whom were pitch-side supporting the modern-day village heroes.

Heroes are common, of course, in this part of Wales, which for some uncanny reason has produced amongst others Barry John, Phil Bennett and Jonathan Davies.

The romance of cup rugby could not have been more evident. The professional set-up of the visitors from Pontypridd, itself a mining community of yesteryear, contrasted with a team of local products, most of whom were cultivated through the various year groups within the club. No fat pay-cheques for the home team, but a "bloody good party", if they produced the unthinkable, or even, I suspect, if they did not.

Pontyberem learnt the painful lesson of dabbling with professionalism five years ago when they attempted to reach the top. A whacking loss soon put paid to that, so they took stock, and have emerged again as a strong local club.

The true spirit of rugby shone before the kick-off as both teams joined arms to appease the posse of photographers. With the niceties over, both sides blasted into each other, with realistically only the one winner emerging.

Yet it was Pontyberem who drew first blood after a turnover on their own line which their snappy backs exploited to the full. A length-of-the-field counter was only thwarted when the Pontypridd backs strayed offside and Matthew Rowe slotted the penalty.

The lead was short-lived as the greater physical presence of the visitors took its toll. Their forwards rumbled and Lee Jarvis slid over in the corner, and shortly afterwards Sonny Parker strode through to send Gareth Wyatt over for a try converted by Jarvis. Pontypridd breached the home line a further three times before the interval through Craig Williams, Alun Hunte and Nalu Tau.

The loudest cheer came 15 minutes into the second half when the home side secured a line-out in the corner and Phil Rowe claimed the score - described by a local as the try of the day. The village side earned a second try on time as Gary Thomas crossed in the corner. Pontypridd wrapped up the day with scores by Jarvis, Hunte, Wyatt, Brett Davey and a penalty try.

Pontyberem: M Rowe; G Thomas, J Thomas (R Hardy, 50), W Thomas (capt), M Davies (M Jenkins, 70); J Lloyd, J Clayton; D Jones, K Jones, H Lloyd (G Rees, 69), I Evans (A Evans 69), O Baglin, R Thomas, G Harding, P Rowe.

Pontypridd: C Williams; G Wyatt, S Parker (J Bryant, 68), J Lewis, A Hunte; L Jarvis (B Davey, 65), R Neville (P John, 69); N Gau, F Vunipola, S Cronk, W James, R Sidoli (B Cockbain, 64), M Lloyd (M Owen, 40), R Field, D McIntosh (capt).

Referee: N Whitehouse (Swansea).

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