The Principality Cup will be leaving Pontypridd this season thanks to a remarkable fightback from a Cardiff side that had three players sent to the sin-bin.
In fact, referee Hugh Watkins was one of the busiest men on the field in a topsy-turvey game as he issued five yellow cards in all. But it wasn't enough to upset Cardiff and they will once again make the short hop to the Millennium Stadium on 19 April for the back-to-back Principality Cup semi-finals
Battling locks John Tait and Brett Cockbain were the first to get their marching orders 27 minutes into a gruelling first-half and no sooner had they returned than Cardiff lost two more players in the space of a minute just before the break.
Prop Ken Fourie was next to se yellow when Mr Watkins adjudged him to be the culprit for yet another collapsed scrum. That gave Ponty the chance to launch one final attack before the interval and when Cardiff skipper Martyn Williams drove over the top of a ruck under his posts he, too, was sent packing.
That made it 27 yellow cards and one red in a mere 24 competitive games this season for Cardiff - an appalling record by anyone's standards. Their recurrent bouts of yellow fever had seen them lose many matches before this one and when Neil Jenkins kicked the point blank penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 8-3 to Ponty it looked all over for the home side once again.
Iestyn Harris had given Cardiff a ninth minute lead with a penalty from inside the 22 after the underdogs had ridden out an early storm from the holders. Both sides looked rusty and as if to illustrate the point Jenkins was wide with an equalising penalty from 35 metres and had a drop kick charged down.
Harris was then guilty of missing touch shortly before Tait and Cockbain reappeared and Brett Davey ran the ball back from half-way. Emyr Lewis tricked his way passed two defenders and all of a sudden there was space down the left wing.
No 8 Michael Owen, who was on fire all night, popped up to act as continuity before Jon Bryant and Gareth Wyatt sent Gareth Baber over in the corner for a breathtaking counter-attacking try.
Those two quick fire sin-binnings, allied to Jenkins' easy penalty, meant Ponty changed ends with a two man advantage and a five point cushion. More importantly, they had the wind at their backs in the second half and every reason to feel happy.
Jenkins increased the lead six minutes after the break with a 30 metre penalty and everything looked set for another Ponty semi-final appearance. Cardiff looked dead, yet for once refused to be buried.
Harris took his time over the re-start, moved his players around and went for the high, hanging option straight up the middle. Ponty knocked on, Robin Sowden-Taylor snapped up the loose ball and quick as a flash Jamie Robinson raced over for a try in the right corner.
That was just the tonic the Cardiff players and fans needed and that try changed the tempo and course of the game. All of a sudden it was Cardiff who had the spring in their heels and in the next 15 minutes everything was turned upside down.
Mr Watkins pulled out his yellow card again to send Brynat to the bin for a deliberate knock-on and then Pieter Muller just failed to gather a pin-point Harris cross-kick to bag another try. His knock-on
didn't matter, though, because when Jenkins missed his clearance kick Cardiff's back three ran the ball straight back at Ponty. After Craig Morgan, Rhys Williams and Nick Walne had made ground down the right, the ball was swung back to the left and, of all people, Peter Rogers was on hand to send his recently returned skipper Martyn Williams over in the left corner on the overlap created by Bryant's departure.
That try gave Cardiff the lead and two minutes later they were well ahead. Gareth Baber broke clear into the Cardiff 22 to give Ponty some hope, but when he lost support the move broke down in the home 22. Not only that, the Ponty forwards were penalised and Ryan Powell took the penalty quickly and raced clear.
An inside pass to Robinson was followed by another off-load to Rhys Williams and all the Welsh full-back had to do was pin back his ears and race to the posts unopposed for a try which Harris converted.
That kick meant Ponty had to score twice to stay in the cup and they only had 20 minutes left. They moved upfield through their forwards and young Welsh forwards Gethin Jenkins and Owen were outstanding in the fightback.
Jenkins was held up over the line, while Owen managed to cross it seven minutes from time for a try which Davey converted to cut the gap to two points. The hearts started beating faster and Ponty went in for the kill.
Two minutes into injury time they got their chance to shoot for glory when Fourie was penalised for pulling down the scrum on half-way. Up stepped Davey, the chief executioner of Cardiff and Llanelli in the semi-final and final stages last season, but this time there was no fairy tale ending.
His kick drifted two metres wide and Cardiff hung on for a famous victory.
Scorers: Cardiff: Tries: J Robinson, M Williams, R Williams; Con: I Harris; Pen: I Harris. Pontypridd: Tries: G Baber, M Owen; Con: B Davey; Pens: N Jenkins 2.
Cardiff: R Williams; N Walne (J Yapp 41-48), P Muller (M Allen 74), J Robinson, C Morgan; I Harris, R Powell; K Fourie, P Rogers (G Woods 19-27), B Evans, H Senekal, J Tait (L Tait 80), R Sowden-Taylor, M Williams (captain), E Lewis (J Brownrigg 75)
Pontypridd: B Davey; G Wyatt, S Parker, J Bryant, E Lewis; N Jenkins (C Sweeney 74), G Baber; G Jenkins, M Davies (captain), D Bell, B Cockbain, R Sidoli, N Kelly (W O'Connor 19-29), R Parks, M Owen.
Referee: H Watkins (WRU).