Rugby Union: Cardiff surface in clear

Pontypridd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Cardiff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

CARDIFF recovered some of their pride at Sardis Road last night when they moved clear at the top of the First Division. They failed to score a try for the first time in 15 Heineken League outings, but those two precious points were well worth the hard slog.

It was always going to be a test of Cardiff's character and the fact the game was played in driving rain and ankle-deep mud merely made the examination of the favourites for the title all the stiffer.

For their part, Pontypridd were not about to do their biggest rivals any favours and made it clear from the start that they wanted to add further injury to last weekend's insulting Swalec Cup defeat against Third Division St Peter's.

To that end, it was the night on which Mike Hall's men had to prove they were not merely pretenders to the First Division crown currently held by Swansea.

There were signs of lingering nerves from the weekend debacle when Adrian Davies, kicking off to the deep end of a water-filled pitch, put his kick straight into touch. From the scrum-back, the packs got to grips and set the scene for a torrid tussle.

First blood went to Pontypridd thanks to a well-judged penalty from Neil Jenkins, their Welsh outside-half. Davies, the man he beat to the No 10 jersey, replied 17 minutes later with an angled shot, at which stage the referee, Derek Bevan, conferred with the captains.

League rules state results stand after 30 minutes and with the scores level after the 27th, the game could have ended at 3-3 with a replay then necessary. Hall and Nigel Bezani, though, were keen to continue and Cardiff edged ahead 10 minutes after the interval with a second penalty from Davies.

Jenkins then had a chance to tie the scores again midway through the half, but his kick went agonisingly wide.

Pontypridd: Penalty Jenkins. Cardiff: Penalties Davies 2

Pontypridd: G Jones; J Lewis, C Jones, S Lewis, D Hughes; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, M Powell, J Scarlett (M Rowlands, 60), M Rowley, N Jones, G Prosser, G Owen.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Ford, M Hall (capt), C Laity, N Walker; A Davies, A Moore; K Matthews, J Humphreys, P Sedgemore (P Edwards, 46), P Kawulok, S Roy, H Stone, H Taylor, M Budd.

Referee: D Bevan (Clydach).

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