Rugby Union: Jarvis returns to silence Sardis

Pontypridd 16 Cardiff 19
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Lee Jarvis returned to his old stamping ground and eclipsed his mentor, Neil Jenkins, as he scored all the points in Cardiff's victory. It was the first time since 3 September 1994 that the reigning champions Pontypridd had tasted a domestic defeat at Sardis Road. Cardiff were the last club to lower their colours and, after this nerve-tingling triumph, they will be aiming to snatch the league title off them as well. Never mind this being the first day of the season, this could have been the match of the season. It was the champions, Pontypridd, the Cup holders, Cardiff, and the tension in the air was thick enough to slice.

To make the blood boil even more, the two hardmen in the respective packs, Cardiff's new Frenchman, Gregori Kacala, and Ponty's Dale McIntosh exchanged a few words before kick-off.

There was a thunderous start, as expected, and Jarvis took his first shot at goal from 58 metres. That one missed, but two minutes later he hit the mark comfortably to give Cardiff a fourth-minute lead. The man he was groomed to replace at Sardis Road, the Lions' hero Jenkins, soon put matters right for the home side with two quickfire penalties and then he rocked Cardiff with a sucker try.

It came from a kick-off when Kacala was penalised for not releasing the ball on the floor 25 metres out. Up stepped Jenkins, and Cardiff turned their backs expecting another goal kick. But Jenkins saw his chance as the Cardiff players walked to their posts and seized the opportunity brilliantly. He tapped the ball, ran 10 yards and then sent Gareth Wyatt over for the game's first try. To add insult to injury, Jenkins kicked over the conversion.

With the tension mounting, the Cardiff lock Derwyn Jones was shown the yellow card by the referee, Peter Bolland, for punching. Even worse for Cardiff was Wyatt, in the absense of the injured Jenkins, hammering home a 40-metre penalty and then Jarvis fluffed a sitter just before half-time.

The loss of Jenkins, who retired after 32 minutes with a cut tongue and bruised ribs, became increasingly vital. Shorn of their dictator and talisman, Ponty had to hang on as Cardiff got their act together. Having changed ends 16-9 in arrears, the visitors were level 11 minutes later with their first try of the game.

Kacala won a line-out ball on the home 22 and the scrum-half Steve Wake sent the ball straight to Mike Hall. The former Wales captain crashed into the home midfield, committed two tacklers and then off-loaded to the current Wales captain, Gwyn Jones. The ball was fed to Jarvis, who dummied his way through to the posts from the edge of the 22. His conversion tied the scores and, Cardiff, looking slightly fitter, began to dictate. Their coup de grace came when Phil John was penalised for diving over offside just outside his 22. Up stepped Jarvis and over went the killer blow.

The news got worse for Pontypridd as Jenkins had to go to hospital with his damaged ribs, and may be out for up to for weeks.

Pontypridd: K Morgan; D Manley, D James, S Lewis, G Wyatt; N Jenkins (capt; S Enoch, 32)), Paul John; N Eynon (M Griffiths, 66), J Evans (Phil John, 20-32 & 41), A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, D McIntosh (M Lloyd, 74), M Williams.

Cardiff: M Silva; S Hill, L Davies, M Hall, N Walker; L Jarvis, S Wake; A Lewis, J Humphreys (capt; H Bevan, 7-15), D Young, T Rees, D Jones, E Lewis, G Kacala, G Jones (M Bennett, 66).

Referee: P Bolland (Newport)