Blackwood 40 - 7 Pontypool
"COMPLETELY unacceptable." That was how Pontypool RFC Team Manager Shaun Rees summed up Friday night’s humbling 40-7 Swalec Cup defeat to Gwent rivals Blackwood.
Pooler were utterly abject as they slumped to a ninth straight defeat in all competitions, undoing any progress they looked to be making in 2013 after what was comfortably their worst performance of the season.
The game was only called on after a 1pm pitch inspection at Blackwood’s Glan-yr-Afon park, and it looked like the Pooler side had already committed themselves, mentally at least, to a night on the beers rather than the rugby field.
Blown away from minute one the sluggish visitors were 6-0 down inside five minutes, a pattern the relentless hosts maintained for most of the first half keeping the score comfortably above a point a minute until the brink of half-time.
Rees said the coaches felt completely let down after week of shuffling across Torfaen and neighbouring Newport to find pitches and sports halls to train on.
It was the most deflated the lively team manager has been all season and you can see why. There were scant positives to take.
From the minute full-back Nathan Gittens strolled through the Pooler defence to roll in open-side Rhys Watkins for the first of Blackwood’s four tries, the rout was on.
The defending was frankly embarrassing with two of the next three scores coming off first phase ball, as wing Gareth Williams strolled into the right hand corner after neat but far from mind-blowing back play on for their second and fourth tires.
Those scores bookended a simple driving maul from a line out from which lock Marc Williams emerged with the ball.
Brian O’Driscoll-esque Blackwood were not but they were as neat and efficient as Pooler were sloppy.
Outside-half Paul Emmanuelli, who grew up playing alongside new Welsh cap Andrew Coombs at Nelson, played beautifully, kicking a perfect eight from eight from the tee and constantly turning the Pooler defence with intelligent kicking from hand.
It was in stark contrast to much of the visitors play with Pooler missing touch from at least two penalties and kicking a restart dead, to highlight just some of the sloppy play.
When a penalty finally found touch, it was greeted by ironic cheers from the loyal Pooler faithful, who completely outnumbered the home crowd but must have been wondering why they didn’t stay in the warm and catch up on the Soaps.
A paint-stripping team talk from head Coach Mike Hook at the break at least made Pooler competitive in the second period.
In fact they edged the scoring 7-3 after development squad centre Joe Blackmore finished neatly with the final action of the game but it was scant reward for the dedicated staff who put so much in personally in the week to get the side ready to play.
Pontypool: D.Davies, Norton, Blackmore, Macey, Morgan, Mills, Guy, Cook, Parry, Evans, M Thomas, R Thomas, Brake, Dyckhoff, Barber.
Man of the Match: Paul Emmanuelli (Blackwood).