Another afternoon of honest endeavour produced nothing for the beleagured Blue & Blacks as the streetwise Wizards became the sixthPremiership side to win at the Arms Park this season.
The pattern was frustratingly familiar: a good start, confirmed by an early try; some useful stolen line-out ball; and then an obvious failure to put consistent pressure on moderate opposition who nevertheless were good enough to punish naive mistakes.
Cardiff knew going into this game that their opponents had a hot-shot fly-half in Jamie Davies. Back in September he succeeded with seven goal kicks in eight attempts against the Blue & Blacks and since then he has taken his Cup and Premiership points to nearly a phenomenal 300.
Yet the side again presented him with seven penalty chances within kicking range. He succeeded with six of them, narrowly pushing the seventh. from 45 metres, past the upright. In the end he was the difference between the sides as Cardiff won the try count 2-1.
There was a welcome sign of renewed confidence in Owen Ruttley's side at the start as a penalty inside Aberavon's 22 was drilled into the corner from where the lineout was won and the pack drove for a try credited to Wayne Murphy. An encouraging start for a pack that again had to make James Goode and Mark Lewis available to the regional side. Throughout the game, though, the eight on duty and four replacements gave 110 per cent effort: James Malpas predictably putting his body on the line; Chris Stamatakis with his huge heart alongside the young prodigy Bradley Davies; and props Rhys Gill and Nathan Trevett galloping around to great effect. All of them earned honourable mention in despatches.
Davies and Chris Anderson exchanged penalty goals but after half-an-hour the Blue & Blacks still led 8-3. The depressing inevitability of points conceded in the final minutes of the half then appeared. Davies converted two penalties from 38 and 30 metres to send his side into the interval one point ahead.
A chance to regain the lead two minutes after the restart was wasted as Anderson floated a straight penalty from the 22-metre line wide of the posts. A grateful opposition duly hit back at the other end with a well-worked try for lively full-back Liam Gadd and, yes, another Davies penalty goal.
With flanker Daryl Thomas sin-binned Cardiff used their one-man advantage to good effect to create an overlap on the left for Jonathan Hill to score and Anderson converted. At 15-17 there was now a chance of a spirit-lifting comeback. Dafydd Hewitt almost provided the necessaries with a great break out of defence but passes continued to be dropped at vital moments.
It was not to be as Aberavon closed the game out with Davies' fifth and sixth penalties and a couple of monster touch finders that kept play interminably in Cardiff territory