Cardiff
2005/2006 Konica Minolta Cup
Cardiff 13 v 23 Pontypridd
21 April 2006 - Rodney Parade, Newport
Pontypridd

Match Report

Pontypridd 23 Cardiff 13

The cup trail ended for another season at Rodney Parade but not before the Blue & Blacks had served up a stirring 40 minutes of rugby in the first half and both sides had reminded everyone that club rugby at this level still has much to commend it.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the broadcasters continuing to dictate dates and kick-off times, there can be no doubt that this match reached out to a new television audience - and others in the ground probably seeing the sides for the first time this season. What they saw was a match not without errors but also full of honest endeavour, no little pace and plenty of excitement. In short, a semi-final worthy of the competition with Cardiff still able to hold their heads up high at the end.

Pontypridd deserved their victory because of their opportunism in the first half when they were very much under the cosh and their increased tempo in the second as Cardiff game plan went awol.

First the good news. The Blue & Blacks attacked with invention and width in the first half. Their superiority was built on a magnificent pack performance in tight and loose, comfortable in the scrums, dominant in the lineouts and regularly bringing their ball-carrying back row into the equation.

But too often the final passes went loose and the overlaps were not exploited. They were suckered after the first ten minutes of territorial dominance, the defence drifting the wrong way at a Pontypridd scrum as the backs went the other way and Dafydd Lockyear was left with a clear run-in for the opening try, converted by Dai Flanagan.

Two minutes later the Blue & Blacks hit back with a trademark catch-and-drive from a lineout for Michael Leaman to burrow over for his seventh try of the season. Nick Macleod could not convert but slotted a 25-metre penalty goal after Ponty had killed the ball after another Cardiff attack.

Ponty regained the lead with a controversial try, a blatant knock-on going undetected for Scott Roberts to cross unopposed near the posts and Flanagan again added the extra points. Ahead on territory and possession but behind where it mattered - on the scoreboard - Cardiff needed to do something before half time. They did. The magnificent Malpas took a quick tap penalty on the right, drove towards the posts with men on his back, and the ball was recycled twice for Geraint Morris to squeeze over near the left corner flag. With the tricky conversion again missed 13-14 could have been worse, but it should have been better.

The Blue & Blacks were made ro suffer after the break. There were no further tries for either side but Flanagan kicked penalty goals in the 47th and 57th minutes. With only one score in it a 20-all draw with Cardiff scoring a converted try would have sent the Blue & Blacks through to the final. It didn't happen, thanks to the cool headed Flanagan who dropped a goal from a lineout on the left.

It was hard luck on the team but the cup campaign remains something to be proud of - and now three final home fixtures in the Premiership will define the season.