Pontypridd power past Cardiff

24 Mar

Pontypridd re-established their four point lead at the top of the Principality Premiership with a hard-fought 20-6 victory at Cardiff.

Title rivals Neath had joined the Valley Commandos on 84 points following their victory at Cross Keys the previous evening, but a supreme effort from the Ponty pack helped lay the foundations for a sixth consecutive league win.

Cardiff created the first real opportunity in the 10th minute but centre Richard Smith could not hold onto a pass as the try line beckoned following an excellent counter attack from the hosts.

With emotions running high, a scuffle broke out between the two sides in the aftermath as both sets of players attempted to assert themselves.

The players engage in an early brawl

The hosts were awarded a penalty two minutes later but fly-half Scott Sneddon’s kick from the right-hand touchline struck the left upright.

The Blue and Blacks began to take control and gained another penalty on 21 minutes but Sneddon lost his footing and his effort from 45 metres fell short.

After weathering the initial Cardiff storm, Pontypridd’s forwards began to take command but the hosts again burst out of defence on 27 minutes and only some superb work from wing Chris Clayton prevented a try.

Two minutes later the visitors launched an impressive rolling maul from the Cardiff 22 which rumbled to within five metres of their opponents line before the Arms Park side were able to clear their lines.

The increasing Ponty pressure almost resulted in a try three minutes from half-time but Clayton was halted by a magnificent tackle from Cardiff scrum-half Sion Hopkins five metres out.

Clayton then believed he had opened the scoring a minute later but his try was ruled out for a forward pass.

The visitors pressure eventually resulted in a score as fly-half Simon Humberstone slotted a drop-goal from 30 yards to put Ponty 3-0 up at half-time.

The sides re-emerged for the second half in bizarre fashion as the incredible Pontypridd support drowned out the home fans to the extent Cardiff were booed upon their return.

Pontypridd supporters sang longer and louder than their hosts

And the travelling fans soon had even more reason to celebrate as their side bagged the opening try a minute into the second period.

Humberstone was first to a long kick and hacked on. Half-back partner Lewis Jones collected the ball and just wriggled over the try line. The fly-half added the conversion to push his side 10 points clear.

Cardiff fought back, however, and Sneddon atoned for his earlier misses with a penalty from in front of the posts and another from 40 metres out to reduce the deficit to four points.

This stung Pontypridd into life and they landed the telling blow in the 62nd minute.

A wave of attacks eventually saw replacement flanker Ed Siggery crash over for a contentious score in front of the watching Wales international Jamie Roberts.

Cardiff full-back Steve Taylor protested vehemently that the ball had not been grounded and wound up in the sin-bin for his troubles. Humberstone’s conversion left the score 6-17.

Welsh international centre Jamie Roberts was at the Arms Park

As both sides emptied their substitutes benches the game began to lose shape but Pontypridd claimed another penalty in front of the posts on 76 minutes.

After much deliberation over whether they had time to score two late tries which would claim a bonus point, captain Chris Dicomidis elected to secure victory and Humberstone slotted the extra three points.

With the Ponty fans in increasingly celebratory mood, Cardiff made one final push to salvage something from the game but Smith was held up having crossed the game.

And the visitors ran the clock down to go a second consecutive game without concedint a try to ensure the pressure is well and truly back on Neath in the hunt for top spot.

Man of the Match: Ryan Harford (Pontypridd) Front row forwards rarely get the commendation their performances deserve but Harford was immense. He was a rock in a powerful scrum and contributed hugely in loose play.

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