Former Pontypridd star Lee Jarvis came back to haunt his old side as Neath secured a home semi-final in the Celtic League at Sardis Road.
Jarvis, a second-half replacement, kicked two pressure penalty goals to give the Welsh All Blacks a one-point victory and a home semi-final against the winners of tomorrow's match between Edinburgh and Cardiff.
'The fact we haven't played a serious game in five weeks showed tonight,' Neath captain Gareth Llewellyn said after his side's victory - the first by a visiting team at Sardis Road this season.
'To get the win is just brilliant. It's great to get a home
Neath had by far the better of the first half and must have been stunned that the scoreboard was 9-7 in favour of the home side at the break.
Three Neil Jenkins penalty goals kept Pontypridd in front, but Neath had the majority of the possession and territory and would have been cursing their inability to finish off the opportunities provided by the power play of prop Duncan Jones and flanker Hywel Jenkins.
Neath had so much of the play, they turned down opportunities at goal in the 23rd and 24th minutes, opting to go for the seven-pointer. Referee Iain Ramage obliged the visitors when he awarded a penalty try after a Neath rolling maul was brought down near the line.
The Sardis Road crowd vented their anger at the call, which seemed premature given that the All Blacks were by no means guaranteed a try if the maul hadn't been brought down.
Ramage was forgiven, however, when he allowed Pontypridd winger Emyr Lewis to stay on the park after a blatant high tackle onopposite number Gareth Morris just before the break.Jenkins missed a simple shot at goal nine minutes into the second half, but the superb scavanging and densive work of dreadlocked Wales flanker Richard Parks kept his side in front on the scoreboard.
Jenkins was given another chance midway through the second stanza and the man who has scored 1,049 points in Tests made no mistake from in front.Neath had the chance to hit back when veteran scrum-half Andy Moore made a dab from close range but, like his team-mates had done regularly for the previous 60 minutes, spilled the ball in the tackle.
Poor kicking became the name of the game as the tension got to both sides. That tension was heightened when Jarvis slotted a penalty goal after 73 minutes to narrow the gap to two points.
And then Parks went from hero to zero went he was adjudged offside from a lineout on his 22m line and Jarvis made no mistake with the shot at goal.
Pontypridd outside-half Ceri Sweeney had the chance to drive his team back into contention in injury-time, but his touch-finder from a penalty went out in goal to hand the match to the visitors.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, Munster proved too strong for Connacht, with a 33-3 victory at Musgrave Park.
Pontypridd: Pens - N Jenkins 4.
Neath: Try - Penalty try; Pens - L Jarvis 2; Con - S Connor.