Cardiff 34 Pontypridd 15

Cardiff beat Pontypridd for the first time since 2009 in an entertaining game at the Arms Park.

In front of a large holiday crowd and a live TV audience it was the visitors that had the better of the opening exchanges. Ponty were looking to dominate the Cardiff scrum and several penalties gave them field position that was to lead to the first points of the game, Ben Jones landing a simple penalty. The momentum was with the away team, and with all the penalties going one way Jones was presented with a second opportunity but he pushed it wide. When Ponty did decide on a different tactic the kick to the corner didn’t work either as Cardiff’s defence put pressure on the lineout and turned over the ball.

Cardiff were having their moments. Tom James given an early run by a Ben Thomas pass. The Blue & Blacks first points came courtesy of a Gareth Thompson penalty, but the even score didn’t last long as virtually straight from the kick-off Chris Dicomidis was the beneficiary when a driving maul went over the line for the game’s first try. Things seemed to be going the visitor’s way as they mounted another attack, but the final pass was picked off by Thompson on half way. The outside half had enough gas to take him clear and under the posts, the simple conversion sending Cardiff in 10-8 ahead at the break.

If the first half belonged to Pontypridd the second was certainly Cardiff’s. Within three minutes they had extended the lead. A training ground move that saw an off-the-top lineout ball moved straight to midfield. With James running a decoy Thomas was able to put Edd Howley clear and the replacement sent Joe Gatt over for a try that Thompson converted. Ponty weren’t going to roll over though and they came straight back with a try of their own when centre Alex  Knott was the scorer after some good play by the Pontypridd backs. Ponty were, however, making a lot of mistakes and the ball was being turned over frequently by the visitors. One such turnover saw James, Thomas and replacement scrum half Lewis Jones combine. James flicked a ball on under pressure to Howley. When he sent Thomas way it looked like the fullback would score only for him to be stopped short. A pop pass to Jones though sent the scrum half over, Thompson again on target with the extras. And the bonus point followed three minutes later. Thomas had sent the ball deep into the Ponty twenty-two and at the defensive lineout the visitors spilled the ball. With the Cardiff scrum now in the ascendancy they worked towards the visitor’s line only to be stopped just short. A few rucks later and the ball in the shadow of the posts, Jones fed Rhys Carre three metres out, the big prop unstoppable from that distance. Thompson added the goal to cap a Man of The Match performance.

With Cardiff three scores ahead the game looked done, but with more than ten minutes left the visitors mounted several attacks in an effort to get something out of their trip to the Capitol. Cardiff were giving away territory and several penalties, three yellow cards were brandished at the home team and the last five minutes was spent defending with twelve. But defend they did and when one more Ponty effort was snuffed out into touch, the resulting lineout ball was happily hoofed into the stand and the home supporters went home happy with a well-earned win.

Viv Jones

Viv Jones

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