Rugby Union / Swalec Cup semi-finals: Laity lifts Cardiff

Cardiff . . . . . .8

Pontypridd. . . . .6

moment that the Welsh fly-half, Neil Jenkins, withdrew on the morning of this match, Pontypridd, in common with many of us, knew that the game was up, as in 29 games this season Jenkins has scored 435 points at an astonishing average of 15 a game.

So it proved, for though the Pontypridd pack showed their mettle by giving the heavier Cardiff forwards a game of considerable ferocity and endeavour, their reserve kicker Crispin Cormack could only manage to kick two penalties out of seven. In the end, it was Cardiff's greater experience and the quality of individuals, particularly Colin Laity, Mike Rayer and Mike Hall in the backs, their front row and the No 8 Owain Williams, which won the day at Newport.

Cardiff have underachieved recently, causing their captain Mike Hall to say 'We owe our supporters something, after losing to St Peters last year.' They are now through to an archetypal east-west final on 7 May.

Cardiff lost both their props after cuts on the head in the first 12 minutes with Phil Sedgemore acting as temporary replacement, as the game developed into a battle royal between two packs who asked and gave no quarter.

Early on, there was more than the suggestion that Pontypridd were the more aggressive force but nevertheless Cardiff, due to the kicking of Adrian Davies and Rayer, still managed to play much of the rugby in Pontypridd's half. But it was Pontypridd who took the lead with a penalty goal by Cormack for elbowing at the line-out and the contest continued its ferocious way with a number of stoppages for injury.

Although Cardiff began to claw back more line-out possession, it was Pontypridd who advanced their lead with another penalty by Cormack, which made it 6-0 at half-time with Pontypridd benefiting from a penalty count of 12-5 in their favour. The second half continued as a game of penalties with Davies reducing the arrears with a penalty goal for a dropped maul, and then Cormack missed two relative sitters.

With the wind behind them, Cardiff began to create more attacking platforms and midway through the second period, Laity gathered a kick ahead by Davies and he and Williams exchanged passes for Laity to score a good try to win the match.

Cardiff: Try Laity. Penalty Davies. Pontypridd: Penalties Cormack 2.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Ford, M Hall (capt), C Laity, N Walker; A Davies, A Moore; M Griffiths, J Humphries, L Mustoe, T Rees, D Jones, M Bennett, O Williams, M Budd.

Pontypridd: M Back; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, O Robbins; C Cormack, P John; N Bezani (capt), P John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Lloyd, D McIntosh, R Collins.

Referee: D R Davies (WRU).

(Photograph omitted)

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