Pontypridd made a nervous start to the game, conceding ground through their own errors. A big hit executed in midfield by Dale McIntosh briefly reversed the trend, but Cardiff gaining the favour of the referee’s decisions to advance into the Pontypridd twenty-two. The black and whites were now hard pressed in defence, but holding out against their opponents’ charges. A switch move by Ponty set up a neat break by Tom Riley, feeding on to his fellow centre Dafydd Lockyer who cruised in for a try, the score converted by Dai Flanagan.
Cardiff once more went on the offensive, spurning a kick at goal but setting up a driving line out to send hooker Michael Leman over for a try. Losing their own line out ball, Ponty were again under pressure, although showing up well in the scrummages to maintain a balance to the game. There was a long and worrying delay for an injury to Ponty lock Dale McIntosh, before he was stretchered off and replaced by Chris Dicomidis. As play resumed it was Cardiff who once more gained the upper hand, looking far more direct in their approach to the gain line. With Ponty pinned back in their own twenty-two, it was inevitable that points were conceded, as Cardiff fly half Nick McLeod slotted over a penalty.
Pontypridd were finally galvanised into securing some meaningful possession, a series of short bursts upfield culminating in a try for galloping prop Scott Roberts, and converted by Flanagan. The lineouts were still an achilles heel for Ponty, hampering their efforts to advance, although well on top in the scrums. The game now seemed to move up a gear with Cardiff mainly on the offensive but Ponty always threatening to counter attack, all played at a frenetic pace. Ponty were grafting hard to hold up the Blue and Blacks charges, soaking up a huge amount of pressure. A concerted period of Cardiff pressure finally took its toll as the capital team’s pack drove over for a try claimed by prop Geraint Morris, the interval scoreline just showing in Ponty’s favour by 14 pts to 13.
The game remained evenly balanced as the second period commenced, with Ponty trying hard to be creative, centres Lockyer and Riley spearheading their efforts, but all without reward. A sharp break by winger Matthew Nuthall gave Ponty the impetus to attack, and reaping reward through a well taken Dai Flanagan penalty. Scavenging for ball and kicking well for position, Ponty were now looking far more competent in their endeavours. With Ben Phillips coming on in place of Leighton Davies, Ponty maintained a concerted period of pressure, allowing Dai Flanagan to drill over another penalty in front of the posts. Ryan Harford was introduced as replacement for Stuart Williams, as the pace of the game continued unabated, and Ponty just edging the contest, scrapping for every morsel of possession.
A line out take and a dynamic charge on the peel by prop Scott Roberts saw Ponty once more driving onwards, and followed up by a silky break by centre Tom Riley. Spurred on by a very vocal support, the valleys team continued to dominate, bringing on Adam Powell in place of Lee Evans and Morgan Stoddart for Chris Clayton. Pontypridd were showing sheer aggression in the tackle area to maintain a foot-hold in their opponents’ half. A well worked back line move saw Ponty set up a clear overlap, but failing to utilise the spare men out wide.
Conceding turnover ball, and then line out possession, Ponty gave ground to another concerted Cardiff attack, but showing total commitment in defence to hold their line intact. Into the last ten minutes of a full blooded contest, Ponty now brought on Tom Dickens for Gareth Jones, the sheer pace of the game taking its toll with a number of minor injuries. Giving no less than 100% in all aspects of play, Ponty launched a forward drive, allowing fly half Dai Flanagan to launch over an opportunist drop goal. Cardiff yet again responded with a late surge, piling on the pressure, but Ponty digging deep into a final reserve of energy to hold out in defence. Taking scrum ball against the head, and to the echoes of a magnificent support, Ponty held out to the final whistle, registering a heroic victory by 23 pts to 13, following a thrilling cup encounter.
15.Jason Pocock 14.Chris Clayton (Morgan Stoddart) 13.Tom Riley 12.Dafydd Lockyer 11.Matthew Nuthall 10.Dai Flanagan 9.Gareth Jones (Tom Dickens)
1.Stuart Williams (Ryan Harford) 2.Leighton Davies (Ben Phillips) 3.Scott Roberts 4.Dale McIntosh – cpt (Chris Dicomidis) 5.Grant Harrington 6.Lee Evans (Adam Powell) 7.Rhys Shellard 8.Nathan Strong
Konica Minolta man of the match – Tom
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