Glasgow Caley ..... 22

Pontypridd ........... 30

Fair exchange, they say, is no robbery and, that being the case, Pontypridd can have few complaints about the swop deal that has seen Neil Jenkins move to Cardiff.

Lee Jarvis, originally a product of Pontypridd, was long considered to be Jenkins' understudy in the Rhondda Valley and if the man whose goal-kicking ultimately clinched the Five Nations title is frequently dubbed the Welsh wizard, then the sorceror's apprentice has learned his trade well.

He produced a magnificent display of goal-kicking, including three penalty strikes from inside his own half, to provide the difference between the two sides.

Yet it was very much a case of the home side blaming themselves for their own failings since as well as the number of kickable penalty opportunities they offered Jarvis, since they were also frustrated by their inability to retain posession for any length of time.

''We've just talked about the hard school we're in now and the fact that you can't afford to lose ball the way we did and hope to win games,'' captain Andy Nicol said immediately afterwards.

''When you've got a guy kicking goals from his own 10-metre line, it's hard, but then we talked about discipline, too.''

Coach Richie Dixon echoed that: ''It was a salutary experience for our players, just the sort of thing we're in this league to gain.

''Our tries were well taken and some of the lead-up play was good, but there were too many turnovers and we gave the referee too many chances to give them the ball.''

Had it not been for two missed penalties by Tommy Hayes, by contrast, the home side would have been ahead by the interval.

In the early stages, Pontypridd's pack had looked in danger of overpowering their hosts. The first points of the competition came in only three minutes when, after the Reds were put under enormous pressure in a scrum on halfway, they were forced to disrupt it and from 48 metres out Jarvis served notice that the Welsh side are unlikely to miss that aspect of Jenkins' play too much.

A second, more straightforward, effort inside the Reds 22 on the left doubled the advantage and, with most of the early play taking place in the home half, they were fortunate not to go further behind when skipper Andy Nicol had to move sharply to block Brett Davey's path 15 metres out after the full back had intercepted opposite number Barry Irving's attempt to release Alan Bulloch.

Yet the first try of the game was scored by the Reds in 12 minutes, set up by their captain, whose speed into his running was causing enormous problems.

He broke from deep inside his own half and found support from Ian Jardine, who looks this season to have shaken off the injury problems that have plagued him for years.

Thereafter, the forwards took over, with front-row men Gordon McIlwham and Gav Scott showing deft handling skills and, while Donald McFadyen's attempted scoring pass went to ground, Scott reacted brilliantly to recover the ball and go over for a try, converted by Tommy Hayes.

Almost immediately from the re-start, however, Pontypridd responded. There was a hint of good fortune in the way that Davey's partially charged down chip rebounded to him, but there was nothing fortuitous about the clinical finish as he worked a one-two with John Bryant to take out the last defender before going over in the right corner.

As the Reds came increasingly into the game, Hayes had those two penalty opportunities, both from medium range, yet they did finally close the gap with a superbly taken try in injury time.

Jardine was the creator this time, sweeping aside the first tackle before his swerving run took him deep into the 22 and once again the finishing was excellent as Jon Stuart and Irving got the ball through their hands quickly to put Hayes over in the corner.

That was a happier finish to the half than seemed likely when Pontypridd hooker Andrew Lamerton was amazingly lucky to stay on the pitch after landing a series of punches on winger Alan Bulloch directly in front of the French referee, who took no action other than to award a penalty.

It seemed significant that Lamerton did not re-appear after the interval, his place being taken by David Thomas.

If Jarvis' first kick at goal had been demoralising for the opposition, his opening effort of the second half was doubly so.

A bazooka shot from five metres inside his own half four minutes after the re-start, bringing back memories of Paul Thorburn's match-winning score which effectively denied Scotland a Grand Slam in 1986, was followed by a wonderfully directed strike from wide on the right and then a third success from inside his own half as he pulled his side away.

Even when he eventually missed a kick at goal, a drop goal attempt as the match entered the third quarter, it was to reap a dividend. Hayes' drop-out attempt was half charged down and fell into the arms of Ian Gough.

He was eventually hauled down, but the ball was quickly recycled and transferred with matching alacrity to the right wing where Gareth Wyatt, fresh from having spent most of the first half in the blood bin, was put over.

Last season the Reds might well have caved in, facing a three score deficit with less than 20 minutes remaining, yet there was considerable consolation to be drawn from their response.

Though his goal kicking wasn't up to the standard he would have liked, Hayes looked more like the season 1997/98 vintage in his running and he hauled his side back into the match with a wonderful solo score, taking Nicol's pass directly from a lineout 35 metres out to cut through the opposition midfield, before fighting his way past Davey at close range to go over for a try he converted himself.

He was to further reduce the deficit shortly afterwards, but perhaps squandered his side's last chance to snatch the win when asked by his captain if he thought he could hit the target from 45 metres out wide on the right. He opted to go for goal, rather than knock the ball down the right touchline.

His kick came up well short, whereas there was absolutely no doubt as to the outcome a few minutes later when Jarvis was given yet another opportunity inside the Reds 22. His kick sealed the win for Pontypridd and for all that the home side ''won'' the try count 3-2, the importance of goal-kicking has never been something this particular Welsh club has underestimated.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - B Irving; A Bulloch, J Stuart, I Jardine, R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol; G McIlwham, G Scott, W Anderson (A Watt 75 mins), S Griffiths, D Burns, M Waite (J Petrie 22), D McFadyen, G Flockhart.

Pontypridd - B Davey; G Wyatt (J Lewis 2-40), J Colderley, J Bryant, R Greenslade-Jones; L Jarvis, P John; M Griffiths, A Lamerton (D Thomas 40), S Cronk (A Griffiths 53), W James, I Gough, M Lloyd (R Parks 66), R Field, M Owen.

Referee - D Gillet (France).

Scoring sequence (Glasgow Caledonians first): 0-3, 0-6, 7-6, 7-13, 12-13 (half-time); 12-16, 12-19, 12-22, 12-27, 19-27, 22-27, 22-30.

Scorers - Glasgow Caledonians: Tries: Scott (12 mins), Hayes (40, 64); Conversions: Hayes (12, 64); Penalties: Hayes (69). Pontypridd: Tries: Davey (13), Wyatt (61); Conversions: Jarvis (13); Penalties: Jarvis (3, 8, 44, 51, 53, 78)