Jenkins punishes Cardiff's sins

Pontypridd 12 Cardiff 10
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The Independent Online

Cardiff's yellow fever struck again as two more of their players headed for the sin-bin in their second defeat of the season at Pontypridd, and their sixth from their last seven games.

The omens were not auspicious before battle was joined, as there was no escaping the rain, or the politicking that is swamping Welsh rugby. "Bob Banker" provided an apt view from the terrace in the programme. "Being involved with Welsh rugby right now is about as much fun as having a red-hot kitchen utensil shoved right up your parson's nose,'' he wrote.

By the time Iestyn Harris started proceedings at Sardis Road he was kicking out of a pretty deep puddle. His kick went dead and Ponty had a scrum back on half-way. The scrum has been Cardiff's bête noire all season, as their front row has been liberally showered with yellow cards. On their last visit to Pontypridd Peter Rogers spent 10 minutes on the side and fellow prop Ken Fourie was sent off for punching as they lost 15-9.

It was business as usual in the first 10 minutes as back-row man Rob Appleyard joined the growing list of shame for a double dose of stupidity. His blow on opposite number Richard Parks at a scrum five metres out from the home line cost his side a great scoring opportunity, then the views he aired on the penalty to the referee, Nigel Owen, cost his side a player for the next 10 minutes.

By that stage, Neil Jenkins had already got the Ponty bandwagon rolling with a fifth-minute penalty, and he made his former team-mates pay with two more kicks to give Ponty a nine-point lead. Cardiff struck with a sliding try by full-back Rhys Williams, which Harris converted to leave the game well poised.

Ponty dominated in the second half, but could not get the try that their driving approach deserved, managing only a fourth Jenkins penalty on the hour. Cardiff's woes were compounded shortly afterwards when Rogers was sent to the sin-bin for a technical infringement at a ruck, picking up his side's 13th yellow card in as many competitive games this season.

But as conditions deteriorated they almost caused a shock. Had Fourie not ignored an unmarked player outside him, Cardiff would surely have bagged a second try. Instead, he went for glory and ended up inches short.

It mattered little that Harris cut the gap to two points because Ponty dominated the final few minutes to pick up a thoroughly deserved win.

Pontypridd: B Davey; G Wyatt, S Parker, J Bryant, E Lewis; N Jenkins, P John; G Jenkins, M Davies (capt), D Bell, B Cobain, R Sidoli, R Parks, W O'Conner, M Owen.

Cardiff: R Williams; A Sullivan, J Robinson, M Allen, C Morgan; I Harris, R Smith; P Rogers (T Payne, 78), L Collins, K Fourie, H Senekal, J Tait, R Appleyard (T Payne, 69-78), M Williams (capt), D Baugh (E Lewis, 55).

Referee: N Owens (Pontyberem).