Davey adds finishing touch to Ponty's power

Leeds 19 Pontypridd 19

Tony Wallace
Sunday 15 December 2002 01:00

Pontypridd strode into the quarter-finals of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup on the back of a tremendous display by their pack. If the foundations for their aggregate victory had been laid in the first leg, which enabled them to travel north with a 14-point advantage, they never allowed Leeds to settle, despite a promising first 15 minutes. At the heart of Ponty's effort was a dominant front row, which Leeds never came to terms with, and the scintillating form of full-back, Brett Davey, who scored all Ponty's points .

The Welshmen will now meet the winners of today's Galway clash between Connacht and Narbonne. Phil Davies, Leeds' director of rugby, reckoned that the performance by the Pontypridd pack in the first leg at Sardis Road presented his forwards with a tougher task than anything they have faced in the Premiership. If forward power is the most obvious of Ponty's strengths, the ability to field a settled side is another. On a grim afternoon at Headingley in persistent drizzle, they started with the same 15 who won convincingly last week, 13 of whom contested the Shield final against Sale last May.

Leeds, by contrast, have been disrupted by injuries which have contributed to a three-match losing run. Davies made seven changes to the team who lost in Wales, though they started with all the confidence of an outfit who have shaken up the Premiership in the way they have. The Tykes surged 13 points ahead in seven minutes, and were full value for all of them.

Braam van Straaten, stretchered off at Pontypridd with what at first seemed a serious neck injury, had made a complete recovery. And how Leeds needed him. The big Springbok began by banging over a couple of penalties, before converting a smart, solo try by Alan Dickens. The deficit was being reeled in fast.

But it wasn't to last, the Ponty forwards saw to that. Not that Leeds did themselves any favours. The longer the game went on the more ball they turned over, and, often in promising attacking positions, were profligate with their own possession. In the first 30 minutes, the Welshmen made just three visits to the Leeds half. Each time Davey kicked a penalty.

Van Straaten pulled one back to make it 16-9 at the break. He added another before Davey made the tie safe by steepling a kick to the Leeds' posts. Gordon Ross failed to make the catch. Not Davey. The full-back pouched it with all the aplomb of an Australian slip fielder and fell over the line for the decisive try. The conversion and a further penalty were a formality as Leeds disintegrated, their European dream in tatters.

Leeds: D Scarbrough; C Hall, T Davies, B van Straaten, D Albanese; G Ross, A Dickens; G Kerr (M O'Keefe, 52), R Rawlinson (capt; M Regan, 52), M Holt, S Campbell, T Palmer, D Hyde (C Hogg, 52), J Ponton, I Feaunati.

Pontypridd: B Davey; G Wyatt, S Parker, J Bryant, E Lewis; C Sweeney (N Jenkins, 52), P John; G Jenkins, M Davies (capt), D Bell, B Cockbain, R Sidoli, N Kelly (W O'Connor, 30; S Cronk, 32-42) R Parks, G Lewis.

Referee: D Mené (France).

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