Walker's try sets up last-day deciders

Pontypridd 27 Cardiff 27
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The Independent Online
Cardiff eked out a draw with the Welsh Cup winners at Sardis Road last night which just about maintained their grip on the Heineken League. But it was not until 90 seconds into stoppage time that Nigel Walker's second long-range try, with Mike Ra yer's conversion, gave them their two points, one for the result and another for three tries. The complicated arithmetic of bonus points means Neath will go top today if they score seven tries for a maximum five points at Treorchy and the title will finally be decided when the top four - Cardiff v Llanelli and Neath v Pontypridd - battle it out o n an attenuated season's last day, next Tuesday.

Pontypridd paraded the Swalec Cup beforehand and there were emotional scenes in the second half when their 39-year-old captain, Nigel Bezani, retired hurt on his farewell home appearance. Cardiff's emotions were of a different colour, however, and Derw yn Jones was fortunate the card was only yellow when he stamped on Mark Rowley.

Jones compounded his felony by then fighting with Walker when the former Olympic hurdler remonstrated with him.

It had been asking a lot of Pontypridd to pull out another big performance after last Saturday's and the early auguries had been distinctly unpropitious.

Three minutes had elapsed when Andy Moore, included in the Wales tour party for Australia to the chagrin of locals who prefer their own scrum-half Paul John, scored Cardiff's first try. With the Ponty forwards committed to withstanding a strong Cardiff s hove, the future Richmond player sauntered through the blindside and Rayer, another disappointed tour absentee, converted.

This was the galvanisation Pontypridd needed. Within two minutes a sequence of forward rushes culminated in a try by Neil Jenkins. The rest of the first half was almost exclusively Pontypidd's: an exquisite pass by Jenkins freed Geraint Lewis for a secon d try and John added a third on half-time.

The second-half was altogether more precarious, Walker running the length of the field for a Cardiff try when it was Ponty who should have been scoring. And after the deserving Dale McIntosh scored Pontypridd's fourth try, it was left to Walker and Rayer to have the final words. PONTYPRIDD: C. Cormack; G. Jones, J. Lewis, S. Lewis, G. Lewis; N. Jenkins, Paul John; N. Bezani (Captain), Phil John, N. Eynon, P. Owen, M. Rowley, M. Spiller, D. McIntosh, M. Williams. CARDIFF: M. Rayer; S. Ford, J. Davies, G. Jones, N. Walker; A. Davies, A. Moore; A. Lewis, J. Humphreys, L. Mustoe, J. Wakeford, D. Jones, C. Mills, H. Taylor (Captain), O. Williams. REF: D. Bevan (Clydach)