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Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 17:02 GMT
Late Pau burst sees them through
Pontypridd 27-31 Pau
An injury-time try by replacement wing Nicolas Brusque gave Pau a dramatic Heineken Cup victory over brave Pontypridd at Bridgend's Brewery Field.
The result was a double blow for the Welsh, wrecking Llanelli's chances of a precious quarter-final place.
Pau went into the game needing victory and five tries to pip the Scarlets and they did it in the nick of time.
Yet Ponty, through Lee Jarvis, seemed to have destroyed Pau's hopes.
The fly-half put on a one-man show with a tally of 22 points, scoring a converted try and five penalties.
Jarvis landed penalties in the 18th and 25th minutes, but in between Pau scored a converted try by prop Pierre Triep-Capdeville.
Ponty go ahead
The strength of Sonny Parker, who brushed off defenders to send left wing Richard Johnson in at the corner for an unconverted touchdown, lifted Ponty's hopes.
The Welshmen went in front for the first time two minutes into the second half as Jarvis completed his penalty hat-trick.
But Ponty were reduced to 14 men after lock Will James was sin-binned for a late tackle on Philippe Carbonneau.
That was when the French found Ponty at their steely best, a bone-crunching tackle by Dale McIntosh destroying a French attack and a Ponty counter led to another Jarvis penalty.
Then Jarvis made a brilliant break as the prelude to his fifth successful shot at goal.
The French hit back, working right wing Pascal Bomati clear for a try converted by David Aucagne.
Jarvis seemed to set up a Ponty victory with a 74th-minute try after he had won the race for his own kick.
But in a dramatic finish Bomati went over for his second try and in injury time Brusque signalled the start of the French celebrations.
Pau will face a daunting trip to Stade Francais for the quarter final - unless Bath can beat Newport and score 12 tries on Tuesday night.
Pontypridd skipper Paul John praised Pau's resolve after two late tries clinched a narrow win for the Frenchmen and a likely Heineken Cup quarter-final place against fellow countrymen Stade Francais, the trophy favourites.
"We thought we had the game sewn up at 27-19 with just five minutes left," said John.
"But they bucked the reputation the French have in allowing heads to drop when the chips are down."
John was replaced after Lee Jarvis had seemingly put Ponty on the victory trail with a converted try which raised his match tally to 22 points.
"I was replaced after Lee went over and I think it was a case of Pau doubling their efforts rather than us taking our foot off the gas," said John.
"It's disappointing for Llanelli as those two late scores denied them a place in the quarter-finals.
"It would have been good to have three Welsh sides in the knock-out stages but now its down to Cardiff and Swansea to further the cause for Wales."
Ponty coach Richie Collins defended the decision to replace his skipper five minutes from the end of a pulsating match.
"We had it in the bag and should have closed things down, but the French are unpredictable and after we had done well to contain them they came on strong at the end," said Collins.
"We gave it our best shot and the boys did well but our preparation was not helped by the fact that we lost Gareth Wyatt to Wales Sevens duty and had to play away from Sardis Road because of the weather."
Pau skipper Al Charron was delighted with his side's attitude in snatching an unlikely victory.
"It looked bleak for us but there is huge experience and character in the side and we just gave it everything in the last few minutes," he said.
"Ponty were tough but we had something to go for and our extra desire told in the end."
Scorers - Pontypridd: Tries: R Johnson, L Jarvis. Con: Jarvis. Pens: Jarvis 5
Pau: Tries: Arrieta, Triep-Capdeville, Bomati 2, Brusque. Cons: Aucagne 3
Teams - Pontypridd: G Wyatt, R Johnson, J Lewis, S Parker, L Woodard, L Jarvis,
P John, N Ta'u, J Evans, S Cronk, W James, B Cockbain, D McIntosh, M Owen,
Pau: Arrieta, Bomati, Cistacq, Paille, Arbo, Aucagne,
Carbonneau, Triep-Capdeville, Rey, Bria, Charron, Lagouarde,
Combes, Mallier, Agueb
Referee: David McHugh (Ireland)
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