Glasgow Caley 45


Barry Irving stepped out of Tommy Hayes' shadow last night to inspire the Reds to what was ultimately an impressive Scottish/Welsh League win at Hughenden last night.

The 21-year-old stand-off's performance reflected his side's as he recovered from a shaky start to impose himself in some style in scoring 20 of his side's 35 second-half points.

Early on the visitors were made to feel very much at home setting up camp in opposition territory while enjoying the sort of weather conditions the Reds have become used to on repeated abortive missions to Pontypridd's Sardis Road, torrential rain poured down.

Pontypridd's noisy travelling support also made their presence felt.

The gentleman resplendent in sun hat and sporting a magnificent beer belly offering little competition to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, but proving little less effective in rallying support.

''All credit to both sides for producing a game of that quality on such a Pontypridd style night,'' said Richie Dixon, the Reds coach.

''I am pleased with how our players reacted and came back in the second half, but I am almost as furious tonight as I was last Friday when we lost to Bridgend.

''We know they can play like that all the time, but we gave away three soft scores in the first half and looked like we were going to do the same thing again.

''At least the concentration was there in the second half, though, and that is the difference.''

It was doubtless no coincidence that Pontypridd kicked off directly to Irving and ,while he fielded efficiently, his subsequent clearance attempt betrayed the nerves of a youngster starting his first game since August last year.

While he continued in that mode in the early stages, Ceri Sweeney, his opposite number, kept the Reds pinned back to the extent that, at least for the territorial advantage they held in the opening quarter, Pontypridd deserved the first score.

It came in tried and tested fashion, a penalty into the corner, lineout, maul and Gethin Jenkins seemed to get the touchdown.

The Reds' response was impressive as Gordon Simpson drove downfieldin typically abrasive fashion.

From the second phase possession Alan Bulloch's perfectly timed pass allowed Glenn Metcalfe to break the first tackle, then step past Brett Davey to score under the posts.

However Pontypridd reclaimed control after Alan Bulloch's missed tackle allowed Sonny Parker to break clear on the left before running round behind the posts, and this time they maintained it.

Irving did briefly reduce the deficit with a penalty, but Davey cancelled that out and the full back's awareness caught the Reds out as the game entered injury time.

The penalty Pontypridd were awarded deep in the 22 was the result of sustained pressure and while the Reds relaxed when Davey came forward, apparently to kick at goal, he tapped it and put Paul John over in the right corner before converting it with a huge kick from the touchline.

The transformation began when, after lineout ball was pinched close to the Pontypridd line, Irving forced his way between two tacklers to scorer close to the posts.

Confidence seemed to pulse through the youngster as a result and he sparked the brilliant counter-attack which saw Rory Kerr, Donnie Macfadyen, Alan Bulloch and Jon Stuart all involved before Jon Petrie was sent clear.

A third try in eight minutes was registered when James McLaren powered off his wing and into midfield, was tap tackled short, but made the ball available for Irving to get over.

Petrie also claimed a second as he spun out of a tackle after picking up at a five metre scrum and it was that try which made the result safe.

Pontypridd finally came up with a response a minute from time John Colderley, a second half replacement, slipped through in midfield.

However, the last significant moment deservedly belonged to Irving.

His chip over the defence sat up perfectly for Rory Kerr to grab the ball, slither in under the posts, and allow his stand-off to pop over the conversion which completed an excellent night's entertainment for those in the stand.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - G Metcalfe; J McLaren, A Bulloch, J Stuart, R Kerr; B Irving, A Nicol; D Hilton, G Bulloch, L Harrison (G McIlwham 64), S Griffiths, C Stewart (G Perrett 80), G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie

Pontypridd - B Davey (C Williams 44); L Woodard (J Colderley 66), S Parker, J Lewis, G Wyatt; C Sweeney, P John; G Jenkins, F Vunipola (J Evans 55), S Cronk (P Graham 61), W James, R Sidoli, R Parks (M Lloyd 66), R Field, M Owen

Referee: J Hogg (Hawick)

Scoring sequence (Reds first): 0-5, 7-5, 7-12, 10-12, 10-15, 10-22 (half-time); 17-22, 24-22, 31-22, 38-22, 38-29, 45-29.

Scorers: Reds: Tries - Metcalfe (16), Irving (47, 55), Petrie (50, 65), Kerr (80); Conversions - Irving (16, 47, 50, 55, 65, 80); Penalty - Irving (25). Pontypridd: Tries - Jenkins (13), Parker (21), John (40); Conversions - Davey (21,40); Penalties - Davey (31).