As many of you will know I am a supporter of Pontypool RFC. For much of this season we have been near, or rooted to, the bottom of the Welsh Premiership. So much so that we were favourites to go down.
That is until about 5-6 weeks ago when we began to put things together and begin winning games. So much so that yesterday saw us play our final game of the season and needing a win, preferably with a bonus point, to leave us with a chance of staying up. In order to do this we’d have to beat Champions Cardiff and score 4 tries.
How unlikely was this? Well they’ve won their last 15 games and completely anhialted us on our last 2 meetings – over 40 points each time.
So FW and I ventured off to Cardiff for the day with a little hope but a great deal of trepidation in our hearts. After all we were looking for a miracle. One thing that may surprise others is that Pooler normally out number the home supporters whenever we play away. On many trips you here more Pooler support than anything else. For this alone we deserve to stay in the division.
We stood near the halfway line with Cardiff supporters behind and to the left of us and a little away from the other Pooler fans. We were told by the Cardiff supporters that they would like us to stay up as they’d missed the cries of Pooler over the last few years and that we were a “big” club with a great history of rugby and a sizeable contribution to Welsh success over the years.
By half time we were leading 24-7. That’s right the champions were blown away by our hunger and drive. They had chances to score and looked very dangerous on several occasions – but we carried on tackilng and breaking through.
The Cardiff supporters were, in many cases, quite rightly screaming at the ref for not giving decisions their way. Yet they acknowledged that we deserved our lead but pointed out that they’d started the same against Pontypridd in midweek and gone on to win.
The second half started and Cardiff came out with more passion and desire. We scored a penalty but then Cardiff came back at us, scoring a second try and a penalty, and we looked to be in trouble. However the guys kept their heads and kept plugging away and Cardiff got more and more nervous as we looked to spoil their party. Then, with seconds to go, we pushed over for our fourth try and secured our much needed bonus point.
Then, after the final whistle, you would think that it was Pooler that had just been crowned champions. The cheer that went up and the joy on the faces of players and supporters alike was something I’ll remember for years to come. Yet we remembered why we were there and joined in with the Cardiff team and supporters in their celebrations. This was much appreciated by the home fans, as many others would not have shown such solidarity and appreciation for an opponent.
Then word came in that Bridgend had beaten Cross Keys (with the help of 8 Ospreys players and a former Welsh and British Lions wing) and the Llandovery had only managed a draw with Pontypridd. However they both have a game in hand over us. Yet we are now third from bottom at least.
Our fate is now in the hands of Bridgend/Aberavon and Llandovery/Neath. If I thought that God would help then I’d be on my knees for the next few days.
For those who don’t understand sport and its effects on supporters maybe you should hear what FW said after game – she know understands how emotional, anxious and jubilant a supporter feels in their teams affairs. This was one of the most nerve racking, worrying, emotional and anxious afternoons that I’ve had to live through in several years.