Cardiff
2009/2010 Principality Premiership
Cardiff 12 v 20 Pontypridd
31 October 2009 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Pontypridd

Match Report

Cardiff 12 Pontypridd 20

A top of the table clash that promised so much in the early stages petered out into an error-strewn, thoroughly unsatisfactory encounter the longer the game went on, epitomised by the modern curse of uncontested scrums for the final 35 minutes.

Not that Ponty's fans, particularly those trapped in their “We will never be a Blue” self-inflicted time warp, will worry one jot. The visitors undeniably deserved victory strengthens their place at the top of the Premiership and no one could seriously dispute the merit of their eventual success

Cardiff have only themselves to blame after playing themselves back into contention after an opening half dominated territorially by their opponents. When it was the Blue & Blacks turn to camp in the opposition half - and often the 22 – after the break, their inaccuracies in attack and poor ball retention cost them dear.

Pontypridd never lost their lead after Dean Gunter had kicked an excellent 45-metre penalty goal in the 11th minute. When Owen Williams flopped over for a try after a quickly taken free kick and rephased possession five minutes later, Cardiff's slow start was already taking on an all too familiar look. By the half-hour mark, they trailed by 14 points after Gunter had popped over two more 40-metre-plus penalties.

Cardiff's lineout was already creaking, to put it mildly, and at that stage the penalty count was heavily against them. Then on the brink of half-time came the first signs of hope. The ever resourceful Gareth Davies sliced through the midfield defence off second phase possession and Rhys Shellard was on hand for the pass and triumphant 20-metre surge to the posts that the fly-half easily converted.

But just when every home fan would have settled for a 7-14 interval deficit after what had gone before, Cardiff spilled the restart, killed the ball on the ground, and the schoolboy error cost them another three points as Gunter again clinically kicked the goal and it was 7-17 after a lively opening half.

Yet there were more signs of an overdue comeback immediately on the resumption. Spurning the opportunity of three points, a penalty was punted into the corner and, for once, the lineout possesion was good enough for the drive and try credited to Matthew Veater. That should have been the launch pad for more scores but the Blue & Blacks failed miserably to capitalise on their hard-won scoring opportunities. The last score of the match was, in fact Gunter's fifth penalty in the 46th minute but after that it was more Keystone Cops than precision rugby from either side.

When replacement Phil Osborne hobbled off a minute later, Cardiff had run out of props and uncontested scrums were called. Gareth Davies uncharacteristically kicked wide from 39 metres and another gilt-edged penalty, that would at least have offered a losing bonus point, was declined for a lineout option that proved fruitless. Somehow, that summed up Cardiff's disappointing afternoon.

Official : Gwyn Morris (Wales)

Cardiff Pontypridd
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