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Premiership Round-Up: Cardiff seal dramatic derby win

Community | 9th September 2019

Any hopes of easing into the new Indigo Group Premiership campaign were quickly dashed for the three Cardiff Blues representative clubs, as Cardiff and Ponty went head-to-head in a fiery Arms Park derby before Merthyr faced a daunting trip up the A470 to take on RGC.

Cardiff 24 Pontypridd 23

It was near-perfect conditions at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, as Pontypridd travelled to the Welsh capital for a mouth-watering derby clash to kick off the new Premiership campaign.

Gareth Thompson got the season underway, and it took only three minutes of action for the hosts to open the scoring at the Arms Park.

A textbook training ground move between the Cardiff backline saw Joe Gatt breaking past the Ponty defence in midfield. The wing had plenty of space but fed possession to the supporting full back, Edd Howley, in support, who ran in for the first try of the 2019/20 campaign.

Thompson converted, and the hosts soon doubled their advantage after Gatt intercepted Alex Knott's pass in the Ponty half.

The wing was quickly closed down, but the ball was worked to centre Sam Beard, who beat a couple of Pontypridd defenders before being halted just short of the line.

The platform was set, and as the ball was recycled James Ratti was on hand to power over for a debut try in the Blue and Blacks' colours. Thompson once again added the extras.

Dale Stuckey came close to opening the scoring for the visitors, with a grubber-and-chase, but he was just pipped to the ball by the recovering scrum half, Ben Williams, who knocked on.

The pressure continued on the Cardiff defence, as the likes of Ben Jones, Knott, Lloyd Rowlands and captain Dafydd Lockyer tried to force their way through, but lock Callum Bradbury was on-hand to provide a vital turnover as the attack was building momentum.

As the opening 30 minutes came to an end, Pontypridd finally got the scoreboard ticking thanks to a trademark try from talisman Lockyer.

From a solid set-piece on the left hand side, a lateral run from scrum half Joel Raikes created a hole in the Cardiff defence, and the centre took full advantage to dot down. 

Cardiff Blues academy graduate, Jones, converted, narrowing Cardiff's lead to a converted try as the sides went in for the break.

The outside half kept chipping away at the hosts' lead, adding a penalty in the early stages of the second half.

Moments later, Thompson replied with a penalty of his own, but momentum was still on Pontypridd's side and they drew level following a period of sustained pressure on the Cardiff try-line.

The ball was eventually spread to danger-man Alex Webber, who was quickly closed down, but the wing managed to offload to Morgan Sieniawski, who squeezed in at the corner.

Jones maintained his impressive form off the tee with a touchline conversion, and put his side into the lead for the first time at the start of the final quarter, adding a further three points after Cardiff were penalised at the breakdown.

Another Jones penalty saw Pontypridd extend their lead to six points, setting up a nervy final 10 minutes at the capital, and the drama was yet to come.

Cardiff pressed for a late winner, and were camped deep in the Ponty 22. With the clock into the red, Howley wriggled his way between Rowlands and Webber to touch down out wide.

The hosts remained a point behind, with a touchline conversion to come. The pressure was firmly on replacement Joe Scrivens' shoulders, but the outside half had nerves of steele as he bisected the posts to claim a crucial opening day win for the Blue and Blacks.

RGC 23 Merthyr 17

Defending champions Merthyr faced a tough trip up the A470 on Sunday, to take on RGC, who kick started a new era under head coach Matt Silva.

It was a nervy opening half at Colwyn Bay, with the sides heading into the break with nine-points apiece, after a kicking duel between Billy McBryde and Rhys Jones.

Hemi Barnes impressed for the visitors, making impact with his ball carrying, and it was the Ironmen who touched down for the first try of the game. Matthew Jarvis managed to dot down in the corner to give his side a 14-9 lead, but Jones' conversion was off-target.

However, momentum swung in the North Wallians' favour after full back Jarvis was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on. The hosts took full advantage of the extra man, finding debutant Rhys Tudor on the wing with a crossfield kick, who made no mistakes to open his account for the campaign.

George Roberts crossed the whitewash from a driving line-out to extend his side's lead, but a Jones penalty with five minutes remaining meant the visitors had a dramatic comeback within sight. 

Merthyr looked to utilise their strong driving line-out to claim a late win, but the RGC defence held out strong to seal a home victory.