This was almost the proverbial game of two halves but not quite as the Blue & Blacks narrowly failed to come back from the 18-point start thay gave to Pontypool.As so often in the Premier Division this season there were plenty of mistakes but also plenty of excitement.
No one was really complaining after watching a lively encounter on a sunlit Saturday afternoon at one of the traditional grounds of Welsh rugby.And true to their own great traditions the Pooler pack, aided and abetted by their ninth forward at scrum-half, ran down the clock in th five minutes of injury time after Cardiff had deservedly reduced the arrears to one score.
Matthew Nuthall's late try had given his side hope as, at long last, Cardiff's attempts at a fluid game seemed to be paying off. Cue the classic pick and drive, pick and drive out of the Prosser text-book as the visitors were left helpless as they ran out of time.But it had been a good second-half comeback after the sloppiest of beginnings.
Two 30-metre penalty goals by fly-half Sam Miles in the first 10 minutes had been followed by a trademark Lenny Woodard effort when he broke close to a ruck and raced 40 metres up through centre field for a try at the posts that Mills easily converted.Remarkably, the Pooler were punishing Cardiff off very little set-piece ball. By the end of the match they had lost nearly a dozen of their own lineouts but that didn't deter them from snapping up every gift that came their way.
The score stretched to 18-0 after 24 minutes when a botched clearance kick was deflected to left wing Craig Jones and his inside pass sent namesake Owen racing over.Cardiff were desperately in need of inspiration and they got it on the brink of half-time. James Malpas charged off the back of a scrum, Dafydd Hewitt carried on the break before Leon Andrews scored under the posts for Chris Anderson to convert.
The unfortunate Hewitt damaged his knee in the move, falling awkwardly as he appeared to lose his footing, and was later taken to hospital for a precautionary scan.When Anderson added a penalty goal four minutes after the interval Cardiff, aided by overwhelming territorial domination, were beginning to look good. What turned out to be the crucial score that settled the result came in the 52nd minute.
The Pooler, having long since abandoned hope of any quality lineout ball, threw to the front man but the ball barely went four and certainly not the required five metres. With referee Clayton Thomas unsighted and his touch judge apparently somnambulant, home hooker Leighton Jones gratefully accepted the return pass to gallop 40 metres for a try in the corner.
Mills converted magnificently from the edge of touch. The 10-25 deficit was too much for Cardiff, despite a penalty try for a collapsed scrum and Nuthall's 78th minute effort after James Goode had again stolen Pooler lineout ball.