Rugby Union: Pontypridd pay penalty for petulance
Swansea 24 Pontypridd 24
Monday 29 December 1997
Arwell Thomas put the boot into Pontypridd and the League champions' coach, Dennis John, put the boot into the referee, Nigel Williams, after his side threw away what would have been their first win at St Helen's for 25 years.
John chose to blame Mr Williams rather than his son Paul, the Welsh international scrum-half, who was twice penalised by the referee for throwing away the ball after he had run into touch.
Mr Williams obviously deemed them to be acts of impetuousness bordering on ungentlemanly conduct. In giving Swansea two penalties, he in effect denied Pontypridd a worthy victory.
On both occasions, home marksman Thomas stepped up to hit the mark, the latter coming one minute from time to rescue the League leaders from defeat.
"I don't know under which law Mr Williams penalised Paul, but I wasn't happy about it. Paul is very upset," Dennis John said. "It was a little bit of silliness on his part and, while I'm not condoning what he did, it just seems so petty by the referee.
"On the first occasion he gathered the ball, ran into touch and threw the ball away before he ran into the barriers."
Had Ponty hung on, having taken the lead for the first time with Neil Jenkins' third penalty six minutes from the end, then they would have gone to the top of the table as the Premier Division reached its halfway mark.
While losing out on two vital points will not be critical, it just means that the champions will not be able to drop many, if any, more points between now and the end of the season.
"There are teams below the top two who can still come into contention," Dennis John said. "I don't expect anything to be decided until May, when our final home game against Swansea may be be decisive."
Pontypridd certainly deserved to win this game, not just because they scored a try in each half. But while they continue to give away so many penalties, then they will always be vulnerable to teams with kickers of the class of Thomas.
No doubt mindful that he was up against the Wales outside-half, Jenkins, Thomas hammered home eight out of eight penalties during the match. His last strike rescued his team from defeat and he even had a ninth opportunity on the stroke of time to win the match.
Swansea: Penalties A Thomas 8. Pontypridd: Tries K Morgan, G Wyatt. Conversion N Jenkins; Penalties N Jenkins (3); Dropped goal N Jenkins.
Swansea: M Back; R Rees, M Taylor, S Gibbs, A Harris; A Thomas, A Booth; J Evans, G Jenkins (capt), C Anthony, P Arnold, A Moore, R Appleyard (T Maullin, 16-21), S Davies, D Thomas (C Charvis 15-30, 68).
Pontypridd: K Morgan; G Wyatt, D James, S Lewis, A Barnard; N Jenkins (capt), P John; A Griffiths, J Evans, N Eynon, S Roy, S Bundy (G Prosser, 69), M Lloyd (G P Lewis, 77), D McIntosh, M Williams.
Referee: N Williams (Llanelli).
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