Cardiff await Newport test

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The Independent Online

To win a title you need a bit of luck and maybe the sight of Brett Davey's injury-time penalty sliding past the right-hand upright was just the boost Cardiff needed to their hopes of becoming the Welsh/Scottish League champions.

Three, hard fought points away from home was an achievement in its own right, but knowing the title race could have been almost over if Davey's kick had hit the mark made them all the more precious.

Poor old Davey. For 84 minutes he was cast in the role of hero and saviour as he kept Ponty in touch with six successive penalties. Then came the vital moment when the Scottish referee, Rob Dickson, determined the Cardiff backs had come up too early at the base of a ruck. It was 38 metres to the posts, and you would have put your mortgage on Davey levelling the scores with the final kick of the match. His smile when the penalty was awarded showed he knew how much of a pressure kick it was – the head in the hands routine after he had kicked it revealed his torment.

As for the Cardiff players, once Pieter Muller had gathered the ball and kicked it as far into the stand as possible, they jumped for joy and hugged each other. Newport and Llanelli beware, the blue and blacks are still in hot pursuit at the top of the table. Cardiff's season is likely to be defined by the two games they have against the league leaders, Newport. The first, at the Arms Park, is in the quarter-finals of the Principality Cup, while the second is at Rodney Parade in the league.

Two wins would keep Dai Young's side very much in the hunt for some silverware, although two defeats could consign them to another season of mediocrity. On this evidence, though, they are not prepared to go down without a fight.

It took less than a minute for Cardiff to make an impact. Rob Howley sprung a leak in the Ponty defence and Nick Robinson did the rest to grab an immediate try. Iestyn Harris fired over a penalty and all of a sudden Pontypridd's "House of Pain" was looking to be a "House of Gain" for the visitors.

Davey's boot hauled the home team back into the contest and his third success gave Ponty the lead after 20 minutes. It was nip and tuck almost all the way on the scoreboard, although Anthony Sullivan's try, latching on to a Harris kick ahead, gave Cardiff a vital advantage.

Davey could have changed all that, but he could not find one more kick in his locker to snatch the draw.

Pontypridd: Penalties B Davey 6. Cardiff: Tries N Robinson, A Sullivan; Conversion I Harris; Penalties I Harris 3.

Pontypridd: B Davey; G Wyatt, J Bryant, S Parker, N Simpson; N Little, P John (capt); G Jenkins, M Davies, D Bell, B Cockbain, R Sidoli, N Kelly (D McIntosh, 43), R Parks, M Owen.

Cardiff: N Robinson; A Sullivan, N Walne (M Allen, 52), P Muller, C Morgan; I Harris, R Howley (capt); S John, J Humphreys (A Lewis, 63), G Powell (D Young, 66), A Jones, J Tait, R Appleyard, M Williams, E Lewis.

Referee: R Dickson (Scot).