The Blue & Blacks paid a heavy price for an inglorious 10-minute spell at the end of the first half as they leaked 21 points from, literally, all areas of the Sardis Road pitch.
Pontypridd ran in three tries, all converted, in that spell to secure a bonus point and seemingly put the eventual result beyond doubt. What followed after the interval was so unrecognisable to what had preceded it, that Cardiff's followers could only shake their heads in despair at another performance that was as baffling as the curate's egg.
It was not so much a game of two halves as four quarters. In the first, Cardiff looked comfortable enough. Despite conceding a fifth minute try to the influential Nathan Strong, the visitors led 9-5 after 14 minutes, courtesy of three Lee Jarvis specials. All the kicks soared through the posts like tracer bullets and there was the extra satisfaction that the second and third of them had underlined Cardiff's lead while Scott Roberts was in the sin-bin.
Then the script changed as Jarvis now missed with his next two kicks at goal, the second of them, unbelievably, from 20-metre range. But that was the least of the Blue & Blacks' worries as Ponty cruelly cut their defence to ribbons. In the 31st minute centre Adam Thomas burst through the 10-12 channel and found willing support from flanker Wayne O'Connor before quick recycling put Lawrence Price over for the touchdown. Three minutes later Strong found a gap near a ruck on halfway and was allowed to make far too much ground before the ball was spun wide for Thomas to score. Finally, in the fourth minute of added time it was a real egg-on-face scenario as an ambitious (or maybe aimless) chip kick five metres from Ponty's corner flag went straight into the arms of left wing Chris Clayton who had a clear run to the distant Cardiff line and posts 100 metres away.
That ex-Blue & Black Gareth McCarthy added the extras to all three tries merely added to the embarrassment. The only thought at the interval was of the debacle at Rodney Parade a fortnight ago and of history, too soon, repeating itself.
Thankfully, the third quarter was more like the first. Cardiff dominated territory and possession but a cutting edge was missing. Luke Ford spilled the ball over the home line in the 54th minute but made up for that four minutes later when he safely touched down though, disappointingly, Jarvis failed to convert from half way out on the left. When Nathan Rees almost crossed near the right corner there was a real sense of a sea-change in the proceedings.
But there was no further scoring until the 76th minute. Replacement fly-half Dai Flanagan slotted a fine 40-metre penalty goal to re-establish a three-scores gap between the sides. Ponty hearts were a-flutter, though, as Chris Czekaj and Rhys Shellard scored tries inside two minutes and Gareth Davies converted both. At 28-29 Cardiff were on the verge of completing a remarkable comeback but Ponty kept their heads and from a five-metre scrum Flanagan's drop goal was the final action of a thrilling encounter.
In the end the Blue & Blacks had to settle for a losing bonus point. In all truth, that was probably a fair reflection. Matches are won or lost over over the full 80 minutes...and, some might add, in the selection room as well.