2008/2009 Principality Premiership
Cardiff 15 v 32 Pontypool
02 May 2009 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff

Match Report

Cardiff 15 Pontypool 32

Whatever sense of anti-climax there was for the Blue & Blacks should be tempered by admiration for a courageous performance by relegation theatened Pooler.

Emulating their championship winning predecessors of 1995 and 2000, Cardiff lost what was planned to be their celebratory final home match - and by some distance.

The Gwent club thoroughly deserved their decisive victory, with their fourth try in the fifth minute of injury time completing a bonus point result that at least gives them  some breathing space before their fate is decided when fellow drop contenders Bridgend - not so much Ravens as Ospreys after an overnight transformation that has attracted the attention of the Royal Ornithological Society if only because it makes a mockery of the climax of the Premiership pecking order - wind up their season with a home fixture against Aberavon next Tuesday. Also in the relegation shakedown will be Llandovery whose get out of jail card will need to be played against Neath at the Gnoll.

All of which will be of secondary consideration to the Blue & Blacks, champions of the Premiership and recipients of the trophy from WRU president, Dennis Gethin. Their honours have been earned over a long season, underscored by an heroic 15-match winning run.

Pooler made a telling staement of their intent with a second-minute try, too easily scored by scrum-half Matthew Thomas as he broke away from a ruck on the home 22. It was a sign of what was to come as the visitors added two more tries from five-metre scrums by Nicky Coughlin and Rhys Bowen. With Geraint O'Driscoll converting all three and adding a 40-metre penalty goal, Pooler were, incredibly, 24 points ahead after less than half-an-hour.

Cardiff's woes increased when Darren Ryan was sin-binned in the 33rd minute before they finally broke their points' duck, if only from a Gareth Davies penalty goal on the brink of half-time.

This was cancelled out by another O'Driscoll effort soon after the restart before Ryan Howells struck twice for the Blue & Blacks with two excellent tries, the first from a visionary cross field punt by Gareth Davies and the second following a rare example on this day of sustained pressure, that gave a hint of what had been seen regularly over recent months.

Pooler were far from finished and, with the match won, no one could begrudge their fourth try and bonus point as Coughlin barged over deep in injury time.

At the final whistle there were celebrations all around: Pontypool for at least a lifeline in their Premiership dogfight; Cardiff for their historic Premiership trophy.  Both, in their different ways, were worthy of the accolades from the enthusiastic crowd.


Official : James Jones (Wales)

Cardiff Pontypool