Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ponty outclass Llanelli to secure historic double

Pontypridd beat Llanelli 47-15 at Sardis Road last night to secure a historic league and Cup double that will live long in the memory.

It was the third title clash between the sides in as many years, with Llanelli winning the 2011 tussle and Ponty levelling last time out. This victory for the defending champions by such a large scoreline outlines their dominance of the sport in Wales currently.

The teams run out for the Championship match.

Simon Humberstone starred for the Valley Commandos with a personal haul of 25 points, and when Llanelli’s intuitive backs did break the Ponty line they often found themselves isolated with very little support to keep their momentum going.

A raucous 5,000-plus crowd packed in to the famous old stadium to witness this historic encounter, and although Llanelli brought a fairly sizeable following they were kept largely quiet by an emphatic Pontypridd performance, especially in the first half.

Ponty started the better of the two sides, and two Humberstone penalties in the opening 10 minutes were followed by the opening score through home skipper Chris Dicomidis on 13.

Llanelli were penalised at the scrum and No8 Dan Godfrey’s quick thinking saw him tap quickly and storm through a gap. He fed the giant second row, who left the covering Dan Thomas in his wake to go over in the corner, which Humberstone converted.

Jordan Williams opened the visiting score on 18 with a penalty, but other than a tantalisingly close drop goal attempt minutes later by the same man, they were unable to stop the imperious Valley Commandos in a remarkably dominant first half.

They extended their lead on 24 minutes as Humberstone shone again, somehow squeezing over through a couple of tackles with the help of the supporting Dafydd Lockyer, before dusting himself off to kick another conversion through the posts.

Rhys Shellard then marked his 100th appearance for the club on 36 minutes, reacting quickest to an over-long Llanelli line out to burst through and keep his feet despite the defence’s best efforts to dive over. It was a heart-warming moment for the long-serving flanker and brought a standing ovation from the home crowd. Humberstone again converted, and added a penalty on the stroke of half-time for a half-time lead of 30-3.

He kicked another just again after the restart, but then it was Llanelli’s turn to turn the screw.

On 62 minutes, a flowing move across their backline saw Chris Keenan find Nic Reynolds with a delightful pass. He darted between two defenders to touch down, with substitute Johnny Lewis converting.

A bumper crowd was on hand to see history made.

But almost immediately, Ponty dashed any thoughts of a revival when Adam Thomas burst through the middle with another fantastic solo run. He slipped the ball to Matthew Nuthall, who crossed the whitewash, with Humberstone again kicking the extras.

Llanelli did assert some late pressure, and after consistent phases were halted by astute defending in the Ponty 22, Kristian Phillips finally squeezed over on the right following another flowing move with minutes remaining. Lewis missed the conversion.

Then in injury time, substitute hooker Darran Harris fought his way through with a barnstorming solo run following a team foray down the right, with fellow sub Dai Flanagan converting for the final say.

That brought about the final whistle, and the champagne began to flow as Pontypridd received their prize – the third in their history.

Tries: Chris Dicomidis (13), Simon Humberstone (24), Rhys Shellard (36), Matthew Nuthall (65), Darran Harris (80+4)
Cons: Simon Humberstone (13, 24, 36, 65), Dai Flanagan (80+4)
Pens: Simon Humberstone (5, 10, 40+2, 46)

Tries: Nic Reynolds (62), Kristian Phillips (78)
Cons: Johnny Lewis (62)
Pens: Jordan Williams (18)

Ponty’s star man Simon Humberstone: “We just came here for the double and we know that if we play well there’s always a performance like that in us. I think tonight all the little cogs came together and we did play well.

“I think we showed everyone how good we can be tonight which is very satisfying. To do it on this stage and to put that result away, we’re very happy.”

“We’ll enjoy tonight and then we’ll have a couple of weeks off. I think it’s well deserved for a lot of the boys. I’ve only done a half season so I feel fresh but this boy [Dicomidis] has been going for a whole year so we’ll enjoy the next couple of days and couple of weeks and then I’m sure we’ll rock up on July 1 [for pre-season training] and we’ll be just as hungry again.

“I think one of the best things the Chief [Dale McIntosh] has done is assemble a squad of players where the competition within is so strong that you can’t just turn up on July 1 and doddle your way through until the end of September. You’ve got to be ready to go so we’ll have a couple of enjoyable days now and get stuck in on July 1.”

Victorious skipper Chris Dicomidis: “Moments like this take a while to sink in. We said before the game the great players like Neil Jenkins, Paul John, Dale McIntosh, they won the league and they won the Cup but they never did the double.

“We’ve created history and we broke a record tonight as well for the most consecutive wins by a Pontypridd team so we’re double record breakers.”

Llanelli coach Kevin George: “We didn’t match their physicality it’s as simple as that. Rugby is a very physical game and it’s getting more physical by the year. What we didn’t do today was come and match any of the physicality that was coming our way.

“All the periphery stuff, all the nice little rugby bits and the nice intricate moves, they don’t even enter into it until you match the physicality, especially when you go away from home. That’s a lesson we learned today.

“We didn’t match the physicality in the contact area. We only missed about five tackles in the first half. That just shows that they outplayed us in so many different areas.

“I’ve got a young group. They’ll come back hard and hopefully we’ll be in the same place again. As I said in the week, it’s the experience of this. If you’re not in it you don’t get the experience and you learn further down the line.

“When the boys stood behind the posts a few points down, you hope the pain in their belly would not want to make them be in that position again. These are young boys who hopefully will learn from that and kick on next year.

“I think that Ponty had that respect for us. I think they feared that we could come out of our shackles. But ultimately today they were a hungry team and they came after us and we didn’t cope with it and that was the end of us.

“Every time they play us they go after us in those sort of areas and we’ve got to deal with it.”


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