PONTYPRIDD 18, CARDIFF 21
Pontypridd kicker Brett Davey went from hero to villain as Cardiff kept alive
their hopes of winning the Welsh/Scottish League with a nail-biting success at Sardis Road.
Tries from Nicky Robinson, within 45 seconds of the first whistle, and Anthony Sullivan in the second half, looked to be enough to send the Blue and Blacks home happy.
But Davey, who had already kicked six penalties from as many shots, could have denied them glory when he was handed a chance to snatch a draw in the fifth and final minute of injury time.
But instead of celebrating a magnificent seventh from 38 metres, Davey held his head in disbelief as the ball squirted wide of the right hand upright.
With the former Cardiff coach Lynn Howells back in charge at Pontypridd,
where he spent so many successful season before moving down the A470 to
the Arms Park, there was certainly some extra spice to the fixture.
And within a minute of the opening, the Blue and Blacks took the lead with a
wonderful try from Robinson.
Rob Howley, looking fresh from two weeks away from international duty, carved an opening and after some slick passing in the backs, Robinson kicked ahead, followed up, picked up and dived in for a try which Iestyn Harris failed to convert.
Pontypridd's position was worsened when Harris kicked a penalty on seven minutes but Brett Davey eased the situation when he slotted a penalty two
minutes after that.
The same player, such a prolific kicker, added his second on 15 minutes to trim the deficit and Ponty took the lead for the first time in the game on 20 minutes when Pieter Muller was penalised for lying on top of the ball. Davey did the rest.
Davey's fourth penalty extended their slender advantage but Cardiff made
the perfect start to the second half when Harris kicked a penalty.
The visitors kept on attacking the Pontypridd back line and they finally
got their reward when Harris, in his own inimitable way, cut through with
so much ease that Anthony Sullivan was given a clean run to the line.
Harris converted from the touchline and the game was back on a knife-edge.
The introduction of former Wales captain Dai Young gave Cardiff fresh
impetus in the front row and when Pontypridd were caught holding on in the tackle, Harris had a chance to improve his side's lead.
He did just that from 40 metres and Cardiff, despite the efforts of Pontypridd, were good value for that slender lead.
Davey's sixth penalty put the game back in the melting and Pontypridd
knocked on the door for the remainer of the game. Parker and Jon Bryant
tried to knock holes in the Cardiff midfield but the visitors were having
none of it and managed to hold on, perhaps against the odds.
In the end, the visitors had just enough composure to hold on for what might turn out to be a crucial victory.
But Davey had that golden opportunity to make himself a Sardis Road hero
It was a cruel twist for Davey who had an impeccable game for the home side.
Scorers: Pontypridd: Pens: B Davey 6.
Cardiff: Tries: N Robinson, A Sullivan;
Con: I Harris; Pens: I Harris 3.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.