Preview to Pontypridd (A - take 2)

04/04/2013

Dead Rubber at the House of Pain - Jersey and Ponty get kinky

 B&I

'Dead Rubber' - it's one of those unfortunate phrases that turns people off right from the start, like 'cold toilet seat', 'minimum standards criteria' and 'Loyd Grossman'.

Unfortunately - if anyone's still reading - that's the reality for Pontypridd and Jersey as they prepare to finish off pool 5 of the British & Irish Cup at the same time as the winners of each B&I pool square off in the quarter-finals.

The tie was originally scheduled for January 19th, but fell foul of the first phase of the foul winter that the British Isles still hasn't shaken off almost three months later.

Leeds and Leinster 'A' did manage to contest their pool match on the same day on an artificial pitch at the West Park Leeds' ground at Bramhope, and the 30-30 draw was enough to ensure the Irish side won the pool, rendering Welsh and Channel Islands' efforts elsewhere of no consequence, snow or no snow.

At first it seemed possible that the final tie might be cancelled altogether - this is in fact what happened to the Connacht v Newport tie in pool 4. But that was due to lack of interest, a phenomenon never likely to afflict the rugby-mad enclave of Pontypridd. A home game at Ponty's Sardis Road ground, nicknamed 'the House of Pain', is still an occasion, and when the hosts expressed a wish to fulfil the fixture, Jersey readily agreed to honour their commitment.

Neither side will be at full strength for the clash. Ponty have a busy schedule of fixtures, with four Principality Premiership fixtures remaining, and the prospect (they need another point to be sure) of an appearance in the Grand Final (the league winners get an automatic place in Wales, facing the winner of a second-versus-third eliminator). To those five games, add at least one more in the SWALEC Welsh Cup - the semi-final against Carmarthen on April 13th - and a potential final appearance on top.

While Ponty have many more games, they are moreorless assured of their league status. Jersey have just two more league games, plus the annual Siam Cup against Jersey, but are at a critical stage of their 2012/13 campaign. A win against 12th-place Doncaster at St Peter on April 13th will almost certainly secure the Island side's status in the RFU Championship for another season. Defeat would be a body-blow and open the door to an agonising final week of the league season.

As a result it will be a changed Jersey side, but nevertheless one keen to impress as they achieve some 'game-time', a commodity which has been in short supply for many of them.

News from the Jersey camp
With a season-defining clash against Doncaster in the RFU Championship looming large, Jersey's Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has made a host of changes to his squad for the British & Irish Cup tie against Pontypridd.

The pool five clash, which kicks off at 7.30pm on Friday, was originally scheduled for January but was postponed due to heavy snow (see below) in South Wales, including Ponty's Sardis Road home. Neither side are able to qualify for the B&I quarter-finals, which also take place this weekend, but both clubs agreed to honour the fixture.

Sardis

Jersey's starting XV includes 13 players who have featured in the club's Championship campaign so far, including experienced campaigners like Ross Broadfoot, Ashley Maggs and Donovan Sanders in the backs, plus Talite Vaioleti, Paul Rodgers and skipper Graham Bell in the pack.

Leicester Tigers -7169

Scrum-half Joel Dudley (pictured above during the friendly with Leicester Tigers last August) is set to make his first competitive appearance in a Jersey shirt after a season plagued by injury, while there is a welcome return to the 1st XV for prop Myles Landick, the Jersey Groundsman who is now fully recovered from the knee injury sustained towards the end of last season. 'Mylo' is pictured below in action (centre) against Cinderford last season.

Mylo p

Jersey's bench includes young scrum-half Harry Cochrane, flanker Tim Corson and a stalwart of Island rugby, prop Jim Brimelow*, plus two forwards with considerable Championship/ B&I experience this season, Kingsley Lang and David Felton.

* Brimelow's last game for Jersey was the 34-38 win at Hertford in April 2009. Of tomorrow's squad, Messrs Rodgers, Vaioleti, O'Brien and Felton were also involved, along with others such as Sam Tuia, Mikey Le Bourgeois, John Allo, Marcus Nobes and 'Chalky' White.

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
1. Myles Landick
2. Charlie Clare
3. James Gethings
4. James Voss
5. Paul Rodgers
6. Graham Bell (capt)
7. Eoghan Nihill
8. Talite Vaioleti
9. Joel Dudley
10. Ross Broadfoot
11. Chris Levesley
12. Ashley Maggs
13. Donovan Sanders
14. James Copsey
15. Glenn Bryce

Replacements
David Felton
Jim Brimelow
Kingsley Lang
Tim Corson
Harry Cochrane
Brendan O'Brien
Sam Fuller

Ponty News
Pontypridd's season takes a virtual step back in time on Friday evening 5th April as the club belatedly rounds off its British & Irish Cup pool five campaign. English Championship side Jersey are the visitors to Sardis Road for a match that kicks off at 7:30pm.

The encounter was originally scheduled for 19th January but was postponed due to a snowbound and deep frozen Ponty pitch. Both clubs agreed to honour the fixture although it has no bearing on qualification from the pool stage of the competition.

For the record Pontypridd have consolidated second place in the pool whilst Jersey are placed fourth. The two clubs battled out a physical 20pts all draw over in Jersey way back in October 2012.

Whilst both clubs have their eyes on bigger prizes as the season draws to a close - Ponty gunning for dual glory in the Welsh league and cup and Jersey battling for survival in the English Championship - the BIC tie between them still stands as a competitive fixture to be won.

selection policy for this match. Debuts are given to Blues Academy and Wales Youth full back Aled Summerhill, formerly of Ponty Youth, and second row Simon Williams on permit from Llantrisant. The team will be skippered by centre Dafydd Lockyer who resumes a midfield partnership with Wales under 20 prospect Tom Pascoe.

Sidelined with recent injury are full back Geraint Walsh with a shoulder strain and flanker Wayne O'Connor who suffered a broken nose in the Welsh Cup game at Ebbw Vale last weekend.

Pontypridd:
15.Aled Summerhill. 14.Matthew Nuthall. 13.Dafydd Lockyer - cpt. 12.Tom Pascoe. 11.Owen Jenkins. 10.Dai Flanagan. 9.Carl Thomas.
1.Stuart Williams. 2.Jack Dando. 3.Bradley Thyer. 4.Simon Williams. 5.Cory Hill. 6.Ed Siggery. 7.Tom Hetherington. 8.Owen Sheppeard.

Subs: 16.Gareth James. 17.Simon Humberstone. 18.Gareth Wyatt. 19.Huw Dowden. 20.Jake Thomas. 21.Jordan Sieniawski. 22.Scott Roberts. 23.Keiron Jenkins.


Any Previous?
Jersey and Ponty drew 20-20 at St Peter in October in the opening round of the B&I. Jersey's Ben Harvey was disappointed, saying he felt Ponty were "there for the taking" in a game where the penalty count was 19-7 to the Channel Islanders.

Jersey took an early lead through a 'Booj' penalty, but Craig Locke's try took the visitors ahead until Nicky Griffiths (below) crossed on the stroke of half-time for a 13-7 lead.

Nicky

The visitors levelled the match early in the second half, but a penalty try on the hour (each Jersey try sparked a massive fight - score against Ponty at your peril!) seemed to have brought control back to the hosts. Tom Pascoe's 75th-minute try gave Dai Flanagan the chance to level things up with a conversion.

A full match report can be found HERE.


History of Pontypridd
The club was formed in 1876 by a group of young men who had moved to the area as part of the Industrial Revolution. One of the early players, Edward Treharne, was named in the first-ever Welsh international team in 1881.

Ponty Logo

The club resumed rugby after the Great War with "no ground, no kit, and not a penny to their name" but developed slowly to become an established and successful club, albeit one who retained an 'unfashionable' tag and were outside the perceived 'Big Five' in Wales.

The unfashionable status didn't stop Ponty having two more Welsh representatives, Glynn Davies and Russell Robbins, in the decade after World War Two ended, nor from winning the unofficial Welsh league in 1962/63, and in 1974 the club moved to its present home in Sardis Road.

The new ground witnessed considerable success, with Welsh Championship titles in 1976, 1978 and 1979. There may have been less to shout about in the 80s, but the 1990s saw an appearance in the inaugural Heineken Cup in 1995/96, and a first-ever Welsh Cup triumph the same season, repeated in 2002, 2006, and 2011. In 1997 Ponty won the league title, and this was followed by further league titles in 2011 and 2012. By this stage there was a Grand Final to conclude proceedings - Ponty enjoyed mixed fortunes in the showpiece game, with an 18-24 defeat to Llanelli in 2011 being followed by a 15-13 win in May 2012.

Famous players of recent years have included Neil Jenkins, current Head Coach Dale McIntosh, Morgan Stoddart, Gethin Jenkins, Martyn Williams, Matthew Rees, Ceri Sweeney and Michael Owen, although the majority earned their honours after leaving Ponty following the contentious introduction of regional rugby in Wales in 2003. There was a one-season alliance with Bridgend as the Celtic Warriors, but this franchise was disbanded in 2004, since when Ponty has continued as a club side - one of Wales' most successful.

Dale -mcintosh

Dale McIntosh, known to all as 'Chief' (and pictured above) has been with Pontypridd since his arrival in Wales from his native New Zealand in 1989. He made 454 appearances as a player prior to retiring in 2007, when he became Assistant Coach under Paul John, graduating to Head Coach in 2010. McIntosh won two Welsh caps in 1996/97 against South Africa and England.

Tour stories: Pontypridd in Jersey
Ponty made three tours to Jersey between 1968 and 1971. The Welsh team were undefeated in six matches on the Island, but eye-witness accounts from players involved - several of them will be here today - testify to some full-blooded encounters, accompanied by enthusiastic 'après-ski' sessions in the old Clubhouse.

In 1968 Jersey's 1st XV, featuring names like Mike Engleman, Bobby Furness, Bill Lavarack, captain Brian Screen and debutant Mick Curzons actually led 9-8 at half-time against a Ponty side containing two of the club's most legendary names: the four-times-capped Welsh flanker Tommy David, whose other claim-to-fame was a role in 'that try' by 'that fellow' Gareth Edwards for the Baa-baa's in 1973. And Bob Penberthy, 'the bionic elbow', who played an astonishing 877 games for Ponty between 1961 and 1985.

Header Rock on Tommy

The 1968 game was eventually lost by 9-30, with the home points through Barry Jones's try and two Peter Burger penalties, and a year later the Jersey 1st XV competed gamely again before going down 0-15, with Gareth Rees scoring a hat-trick of tries for Ponty. Dermot McQuillan came closest to scoring a try for Jersey but was bundled into a corner flag.

In 1971 the JEP ran the headline 'Welsh Visitors Dazzle - But Island Side Not Disgraced' above a match report of a 9-34 defeat. Furness skippered Jersey that day and our President David Lapidus played in the game, while his predecessor Engleman was referee. Jersey's points came from Furness with a drop-goal (4), Roger Thomas's try (3) and Ian Hamilton's conversion (2).

The Saturday warm-up games against Jersey's 'A' XV were unsurprisingly not as close, to the extent that Jersey's only points in the three encounters were from a John Langlois try in 1968. However the 'A' games may have played a significant role in softening up the tourists for Sunday's 1st team encounter.

Many thanks to Richard Evans, the Pontypridd historian, for unearthing details of these games, and to Brian Screen for obtaining cuttings from the JEP with full match reports.

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Ponty v Jersey through the following channels:

• Live commentary on BBC Radio Jersey Friday from 7pm (available online and on your transistor-wireless device. This is a game that might have tested other stations elsewhere in the world who had made an 'Every Game Live' pledge at the start of the season. But the redoubtable Richard Collinson has summoned all his Olympic torch-bearing spirit to make sure the Beeb honour their commitments in the same way as the two clubs are doing
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match reaction on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon
• Reports and match action on Channel TV online and on Monday evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at 6.30pm

Other rugby this weekend 
There is one other make-up tie in the B&I , the pool 1 encounter between Bridgend and Ulster 'A', a.k.a. the Ravens against the, er, Ravens, which takes place at Brewery Field in Bridgend on Friday (k-o 7.30pm)

The B&I quarter-final line-up is as follows:
* Friday: Newcastle v Nottingham
* Saturday: Bedford v Llanelli
* Sunday: Cornish Pirates v Munster 'A'; Bristol v Leinster 'A'

There is one RFU Championship game this weekend, Moseley hosting Leeds on Friday night. A win would make Moseley mathematically safe from relegation, although reality is that this is a two-horse race between Jersey and Doncaster. Leeds will want to make the most of their game-in-hand to reclaim fourth place (and the play-off spot it earns) from Bristol.

There is also quarter-final action in both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, leaving rugby fans who have the right facilities (cable TV, compliant spouses and full refrigerators) with an opportunity to hunker down on the sofa for 72 hours, starting when Gloucester entertain Biarritz tonight (Thursday).

And Finally

Local action involving Jersey teams sees LQ Lydian Lions travel to St Jacques in Guernsey on Saturday, the same day that Banks Ladies host New Ash Green at Grainville in a league encounter (KO 12noon), and there's a double-header at St Peter when Jersey Athletic play Banks and Wanderers host Beeches (both games at 2pm). On Sunday Jersey Colts travel to Petersfield.

I'd love to claim authorship of this, but someone else got there first. Never mind, it's worth repeating: you know you're a true Welsh rugby fan when... you are more worried about the rumblings in North's career than the rumblings in North Korea.

Ay-thang-kyow!

Iechyd da, and enjoy your weekend's rugby

Tom Innes
 

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