By Rob Cole
Jim Botham will get back into action for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery when he plays for Cardiff in their Principality Premiership clash with Pontypridd at Sardis Road on Saturday.
It’s the final round of fixtures in the East and West Divisions and the game will be shown live on S4C (kick-off 5.15pm). The two regional leagues of eight clubs will come together in one division for the second half of the season to determine which club wins the title.
Pontypridd can still top the East Division if they beat the Blue & Blacks and reigning champions Merthyr slip-up at home against bottom-of-table Bargoed. The Ironmen currently hold a one point lead.
The Sardis Road fixture comes 135 years on from the first Christmas clash between the two clubs. The teams met for the first time in Pontypridd on 23 December, 1882, when Cardiff won 8-0 with a disputed try.
South Wales Daily News – 26 December, 1882
CARDIFF v. PONTYPRIDD
A match between the above clubs was played at Pontypridd on Saturday last. Pontypridd was well represented, and Cardiff “whipped” together a very fair team, notwithstanding the absence of so many of their first fifteen. After a well contested game the match resulted in a win for Cardiff by one goal and a try (disputed) to nil. The goal was kicked by W. Williams from a try by Simpson, and the other try was obtained by Hinton. In addition to the above mentioned, Clare, James, and Laybourne played well for Cardiff, as also did the brothers Treharne and Spickett for Pontypridd.
Cardiff: W. H. Morgan, back AV. Williams, J. Clare, and T G. Fitzgerald, three-quarter backs C. James and Buller, half-backs W. D. Phillips (captain), J. Simpson, J. Hinton, McConnochie, E. Evans, Laybourne, Cooper, and Holman.
Pontypridd: G. Williams, back J. Spickett (captain), D. Treharne, and Morris, three-quarter backs; E. Treharne and W. Spickett, half-backs; Lewis, Price, Thomas, Morgan, Lloyd, Griffiths, Williams, Matthews, and another, forwards.
The game will also be the first of 15 live matches from the Principality Premiership and the WRU National Cup competitions that will be made available on S4C. All the games will be available to watch on-demand at s4c.cymru, iPlayer and other platforms and English commentary and subtitles will be available.
S4C will screen one of the opening games in the second phase of the Premiership on Saturday, 30 December when Llandovery entertain Aberavon at Church Bank (kick-off 5.00pm). There will be a first round match from the WRU National Cup shown on Sunday, 7 January.
“We are delighted to announce that we will broadcast a number of key matches from the Principality Premiership and the National Cup this season,” said S4C Sports Commissioner, Sue Butler.
“The two competitions have a significant rugby following in Wales and The National Finals day is one of the highlights of the club rugby season. The live coverage is great news for Welsh rugby supporters all over Wales and the UK.”
With Cross Keys having gained revenge on Newport in their return fixture at Rodney Parade earlier in the week, winning 32-24, it means Cardiff cannot move up or down in the East Division and will be guaranteed to carry over five points in the second phase for finishing fourth. Ponty can still top the table, and earn eight points to carry forward, if they win and Merthyr lose or draw.
It took three second half tries from Mathew Powell, Barney Nightingale and Scott Matthews, along with 12 points from the boot of Josh Prosser, to earn Keys a bonus-point win after they had trailed 10-7 at the break in midweek. Leon Andrews crossed in the first half to set up the bonus point.
Newport had tries from Henry Palmer, Jonathan Morris and Tom Piper, two of which Matt O’Brien converted. Haydn Simons also converted one and added a penalty.
In the West, RGC 1404 head to Bridgend knowing they only need a win to pick up the maximum eight points to take into the second half of the campaign. They currently have a three point lead over Carmarthen Quins and will meet the Ravens again in their opening fixture in phase two next week at Parc Eirias.
The Quins, who beat the Gogs 25-22 in their last outing, head to third-placed Llandovery hoping to complete the double and protect their two point advantage. They beat the Drovers 16-12 at home in October and could finish top or third on the final day of the first-phase.
The outcome of two classic West Wales derbies will determine which team finishes in fourth and fifth. Llanelli currently hold a one point lead in fourth over Aberavon.
The Scarlets head to Swansea on Saturday, while the Wizards travel to The Gnoll to face Neath on Boxing Day. There is all to play for with Neath two points behind Swansea at the bottom of the table and hoping to climb up one place.
Principality Premiership East Division – Round 14
Ebbw Vale v Bedwas
Merthyr v Bargoed
Pontypridd v Cardiff
Principality Premiership West Division – Round 14
Bridgend v RGC 1404
Llandovery v Carmarthen Quins
Swansea v Llanelli
Neath v Aberavon
Principality Premiership Phase 2 – Round 1
Carmarthen Quins v Swansea
Ebbw Vale v Llanelli
Llandovery v Aberavon
Merthyr v Cross Keys
Neath v Bargoed
Newport v Cardiff
Pontypridd v Bedwas
RGC 1404 v Bridgend