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Otters edged out by Pooler

Photo by Elwyn Davies

A large crowd once again turned out to watch the Otters take on unbeaten Pontypool. Sponsors and supporters alike were treated to a fantastic game where the lead changed hands seven times.

Pontypool started well and within minutes a driving lineout close to the Otters line saw Pontypool captain and flanker Scott Matthews dive over the line for an unconverted try (0-5).

The visitors continued to put Narberth under pressure but solid defence kept them out. Narberth got their first points on the board when fly half Jonathan Rogers coolly sent a drop goal soaring between the posts (3-5).

The Otters got their noses in front when centre Josh Davies made the initial break before passing to co-centre Ilan Phillips who ran in and scored under the posts. Full back Nick Gale converted the try (10-5).

Within minutes the Otters moved further ahead when an overlap on the blindside of a ruck saw wing Fraser Jones (making his debut for the 1st team) dash down the touchline, outpace the Pooler defence and score a great try in the corner (15-5).

With Narberth 2nd Row Rhys Williams receiving a yellow card for a high tackle, the Pooler forwards once again took control and flanker Matthews was on hand to drive over the line for his second try converted by fly half Matthew Jarvis (15-12).

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Excellent tackling around the ankles of the bigger Pooler forwards by the entire Narberth team was managing to keep the visitors at bay but eventually the pressure told and Pontypool wing, Matthew Powell, found his way over the Otters line for a well taken try converted by Jarvis (15-19).

Gale closed the gap with a penalty (18-19) and just before half time Narberth nearly scored another try when Phillips and Jones combined to put Gale in the clear but he was dragged down by the Pooler defence just inches from the try line.

After the break the Pooler forwards again seemed to get the upper hand but attacking moves from the Otters with strong runs from both wingers Josh Evans and Fraser Jones were keeping the game finely balanced. Then another attack by the Otters backs saw centre Josh Davies make the initial break through the Pooler defence. He then handed on to Gale who made further ground and then passed inside to scrum half Lewys Gibby who crossed the line under the posts for a try converted by Gale to put the Otters back in front 25-19.

A dubious decision at the breakdown where Narberth appeared to fairly win turn over ball resulted in a penalty to Pooler and when the visitors lost control of the ball at a scrum five metres from the Narberth line the referee further infuriated the home supporters by awarding Pooler a penalty try to nudge them back in front 25-26.

Gale kicked a penalty to regain the lead for the Otters 28-26 but a further try by the Pooler No.8 converted by Jarvis and a penalty with the last kick of the game saw the visitors come away with a 28-36 win.

It was a highly entertaining game of rugby with the Pooler supporters adamant that the Otters had given them by far the hardest match of the season.

After the match, the Narberth RFC supporters presented Sean Gale, Narberth RFC Director of Rugby, with an engraved watch as a thank you for his service to the club.

Sean is retiring after 17 years at the club and has been described as a ‘great motivator’ of players throughout the years.