Cardiff RFC’s incredible winning streak came to an end on Saturday as Pontypridd extended the Blue and Blacks wait for a win at Sardis Road by another year.
It will now be 11 years since we have won on the short journey up the A470, and this season was arguably our best chance in that time, but there was no way through a resilient home defence.
Steve Law had struggled with a tighthead prop crisis before the game as Peter Lloyd and Ollie Drake were ruled out through injury and Cardiff Blues unable to spare any youngsters, so Matthew Petit maintained his return from retirement to start and Louis Jones was drafted in from Newport on permit.
Elsewhere Thomas Davies, Evan Yardley, James Thomas and James Beal were recalled to the starting XV and Macauley Cook dropped down from the Cardiff Blues squad to start at second row.
It was a nightmare start for the away side though as a blown kick-off claim allowed Pontypridd possession in our half and with just 32 seconds on the clock Alex Webber was able to take advantage of a defensive mis-match to speed through and open the scoring.
Diggy Bird converted and extended the lead a few minutes later after a dominant home scrum, but Cardiff weren’t prepared to be left behind and spent the next 15 minutes working a way back into the game.
A dangerous run down the right from James Beal was stopped by a high tackle and with the penalty put into the corner, the forwards set about getting the driving maul going with the assistance of a few backs, Thomas Davies the man eventually credited the try.
Unfortunately Gareth Thompson couldn’t convert having already missed a penalty and almost immediately after the re-start Bird was able to add three more to Pontypridd’s points tally after a high tackle.
The game began to settle down at this point, with the home side largely dominating possession and territory but Cardiff’s defence stood strong and respite was found when Garyn Smith was penalised for obstruction.
A huge Edd Howley kick sent us down to Pontypridd’s 22 and the forwards set to work again, pushing the driving maul up towards the try line before some heavy carrying proved successful with Alex Everett scoring his sixth try of the season. Thompson found his kicking boots with the conversion and further penalty.
This actually gave Cardiff an unlikely lead with half-time approaching but once again the Blue and Blacks failed to take the kick-off and allowed Ponty to set up camp in our 22, with Webber turning creator on this occasion offloading for Sion Parry to score.
Bird converted to give the hosts a 20-15 lead at the break, and added three more early in the second half after another strong Pontypridd scrum.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued though with Cardiff again refusing to fall behind, and it took a moment of magic to inspire what was otherwise a flat attacking performance as Teri Gee popped up in midfield to take an inside pass from Thompson and speed over for a second try in a week.
Thompson converted and quickly the Blue and Blacks were back in the Pontypridd 22 with a few repeated infringements from the hosts allowing our fly-half to kick us ahead for the second time in the game.
That lasted until just after the hour mark when Bird swung the game back in the favour of the home side once again, with what would actually prove to be the last points of the encounter.
The final 20 minutes of the game saw both sides go through extended periods of possession but fail to break down the opposition defences, as tempers spilled over when Brynley Toms was yellow carded for slapping the face of his opposite number after a scrum.
With the clock red it seemed like Cardiff may steal victory when Teri Gee made another scintillating break, but he was pulled down just short and Pontypridd pulled off a somewhat questionable turnover to ensure that victory was theirs.
In truth they deserved it on the day, having been accurate at key times, clinical when attacking and organised in defence, playing consistently throughout the 80 minutes.
Cardiff will be disappointed though at having opportunities to win the game and be leading twice, to not come away with a victory as we have done on numerous occasions this season despite not perhaps being at our best.
Expect a backlash next week as Llanelli arrive at the Arms Park with the Blue and Blacks keen to return to winning ways and not let the strong grip on top spot in the Indigo Group Premiership go.