Rugby Union: Ponty's party at the Brewery

Bridgend 24 Pontypridd 52
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Pontypridd have finally made it to the top. The season after winning the Swalec Cup they captured the Welsh First Division title with two games still remaining to confirm themselves as the best team in Wales.

They have always claimed they have never been given the credit they deserve for their consistency, but this triumph means they stand alone as the flagbearers for the game in Wales.

Swansea's defeat at Neath had given Pontypridd a simple target - one bonus point and the title would be theirs. The Sardis Road faithful flocked to the Brewery Field, yet they were given a shock in the opening exchanges. After nine minutes the left wing Gareth Thomas powered his way over for Bridgend's opening try.

After their nervous start, however, Ponty got to grips with the occasion and when Paul John spotted space on the narrow side it allowed him to feed his wing David Manley, who passed back inside to John before receiving the ball again from his scrum-half to score. Crispin Cormack converted and Ponty were on their way.

Now it was the home side's turn to feel the pressure and, they conceded a sucker try to Martyn Williams when the blindside flanker merely flopped on the ball over the line when it squirted out of the home scrum.

Once again Cormack converted and he was presented with another conversion opportunity when the full-back Kevin Morgan crossed under the posts. Cormack made no mistake with the conversion and the title moved closer to the Sardis Road trophy cabinet.

Bridgend, however, had no intention of laying down and letting Pontypridd stride to the title and 17 points in 12 minutes at the start of the second half put a completely different complexion on the game.

Suddenly, instead of the game being about possible title celebrations for Ponty, it became a battle for survival following tries from back-row men Cliff Michaluk and Andrew Williams. Durston converted them both and then added a penalty to slash the deficit to four points and keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top four and a place in Europe.

Four tries in the final 15 minutes, Pontypridd's specialist area of the game, clinched the title, with the former Great Britain rugby league star Phil Ford running in a special from 40 metres to add a final flourish.

Bridgend: C Bradshaw; S Greenaway, L Davies, K Ellis, G Thomas; A Durston, G Downes; L Manning, C Ferris, I Greenslade (captain), C Vogl, C Stephens, C Michaluk, A Williams, J Forster.

Pontypridd: K Morgan; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, P Ford; C Cormack, Paul John (captain); N Eynon, Phil John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, M Lloyd, M Williams.

Referee: Peter Bolland (Newport)

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