Pic: Viv Jones, Cardiff RFC.

Ponty Feel The Power Of The Law As Cardiff Finally Bury Their Derby Jinx

Cardiff are still very much in chase for the Principality Premiership title after they won their first derby clash with arch-rivals Pontypridd in a decade with a 34-15 win at the Arms Park.

In a game that proved the big Welsh rugby derbies aren’t merely confined to the festive regional battles, a five figure crowd enjoyed a high-standard match that saw the home side reduced to 12 men at the end with three players in the sin-bin.

Steve Law has turned Cardiff into an attractive side to watch and this was their 11th win in their last 13 league outings.

There is also a draw in that sequence with only Ebbw Vale having lowered their colours since they lost three matches in a nightmare September.

Ponty skipper Dafydd Lockyer reckoned before the game that if his side had been able to extend their winning run over the Blue & Blacks to 21 games that it would have knocked them out of the title race. But their bonus point victory brought them to within a point of Lockyer’s second placed side and nine points off table-topping Merthyr.

All the passion and urgency came from the visitors in a nervy first half that only really came to life in the final five minutes when both sides scored a try. Up until that point there was only a penalty a piece to show for 36 minutes of effort.

Gareth Thompson gave the home side the lead midway through the opening period with a 30 metre penalty and Ben Jones replied eight minutes later.

“Come on somebody”, shouted a wag in the very healthy Arms Park crowd after half-an-hour of both sides sounding the other out and the urgency the fans were seeking was injected by Ponty when they kicked deep into the home 22 for a line-out.


There was a perfect set-up from the throw and an irresistible drive eventually put Chris Dicomidis over in the left corner. Alex Knott almost conjured up a second try moments later before the momentum turned just before the break.

Ponty kept on playing, rather than count down to the interval, and that allowed man of the match Thompson to pick off a Jones pass near half-way and sprint to the posts for a try he also converted.

That gave Cardiff what seemed an unlikely half-time lead and they quickly built on that. Thompson kicked a penalty two minutes in the second half and then converted a brilliant back line try by Joe Gatt.

Knott replied with a 25 metre run to the line after two defenders had dived over the top of him as he swooped to pick up a loose pass to put the game back into the melting pot, but scrum half replacement Lewis Jones thundered over in the left corner after another brilliant back line move that released Edd Howley on a 20 metre touchline run.

Thompson converted and then also added the extras to the bonus-point try at the posts scored by prop Rhys Carre as Cardiff capitalised on another Ponty error.

There was no way back for the visitors, even though Cardiff were reduced to 12 men in the final few minutes after losing Shane Lewis-Hughes, Keiron Brown and Morgan Allen to yellow cards.

Merthyr remain on course for a hat-trick of titles after ending the year with a 38-17 bonus-point win at Bargoed and despite their defeat in the Welsh capital, Justin Burnell’s Ponty team are still in second. With both Merthyr and Cardiff still to travel to Sardis Road before the season is completed, they are still serious contenders for a title they last won in 2015.

At the other end of the table, four teams will be automatically relegated as the league is reduced from 16 to 12 teams. The side that finishes in 11th place will then face the winners of the Championship to determine who joins the top 10 in next year’s Premiership.

Pontypool are once again the runaway leaders in the Championship with 13 successive victories giving them a 16 point lead. A magnificent December has edged Swansea out of the danger zone in the bottom half of the Premiership table and there is now a 10 point cushion between them in ninth and the bottom six clubs.

The second half of the season is going to be even more cut-throat at the bottom of the table than the top with some big names set to drop out of the top-flight.


Principality Premiership Table

                                P             W           D             L              Pts
Merthyr               17           14           0              3              71
Pontypridd         17           13           0              4              63
Cardiff                  17           12           1              4              62
Ebbw Vale           17           12           1              4              58
Newport              17           12           0              5              55
Aberavon            16           11           1              4              53
Llandovery          17           10           1              6              52
RGC 1404            16           9              0              7              48
Carmarthen Q   17           8              0              9              42
Swansea              16           7              0              9              37
Bridgend              15           5              0              10           27
Llanelli                  17           4              1              12           24
Bedwas                16           4              0              12           23
Cross Keys          16           3              1              12           23
Bargoed               16           3              0              13           17
Neath                   15           1              0              14           9


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