2006/2007 Principality Premiership
Maesteg 19 v 31 Cardiff
02 December 2006 - The Old Parish Ground, Maesteg

Match Report

Maesteg 19 Cardiff 31

What Cardiff's second away victory of the season may have lacked in tries was more than compensated for in other respects as two totally committed sides shared 32 penalties, four yellow cards, two exceptionally long penalty goals - and all packed into 96 minutes of play from start to finish.

To the great credit of Maesteg Rugby Football Club time was also taken beforehand to have a minute's silence in memory of not only one of their own stalwarts plus WRU President and former Cardiff chairman and captain Keith Rowlands, but also another Cardiff captain of yesteryear, Barry Nelmes. It was a gesture much appreciated by the travelling fans who had again turned out to support the Blue & Blacks.

A pre-match downpour failed to dampen the vigour of a lively start, particularly so from the home side. Any pack that has the likes of warriors such as Ian Boobyer and Karl Hocking in its driving seat has to be treated with respect and so it proved for most of the first quarter. Having narrowly failed with an attempted penalty goal from 51 metres in the seventh minute, Luke Richards had more luck, again from long-range, six minutes later.

Craig Evans cancelled that out with a much simpler effort in the 15th minute, the preamble to an outstanding goalkicking display that was to finish with a tally of nine successes in ten attempts by the time the referee's stop watch finally ticked around to no-side.

Maesteg opened up a seven point lead when Roddy Boobyer crossed with alarming ease from recycled ball under Cardiff's posts and Richards comfortably added the extras. The Old Parish were taking full advantage of the wind at their backs with Richards and impressive full back Neil Dixon punting the ball prodigious distances. But Cardiff hung in well and two more penalty goals from Evans were just rewards.

Then the yellow fever started. In the 35th minute Richard Jones was carded for killing the ball and Richards had no difficulty with the penalty that followed. Better still, in the 44th minute of the half he blasted another goal from all of 55 metres to give his side a deserved interval lead of 16-9.

Three minutes after the restart, the yellow card was brandished in the opposite direction when Hocking was despatched and Evans stroked over the penalty, the first three of a 16-point surge within 10 minutes that effectively won the game for the visitors. Another goal followed almost immediately before turnover ball on halfway set up the most creative play of the afternoon.

Not for the first time, skipper Gareth Gravell made the hard yards, Rhys Gill, as mobile and industrious as ever, popped up outside him, and Josh Freeman provided a classy finish for the touchdown halfway out on the left. Maesteg infringed after the whistle and had to stand and watch as Evans first converted and then placed the ball on the centre spot and coolly made it into a ten-point turnaround.

Another Richards goal gave the home side some hope at 19-25 but Evans was far from finished. His first miss of the afternoon failed to deter him and he was soon back in the groove with successes from 30 and 25 metre range. The last of these came after replacement flanker Andrew Healey was carded for hands in a ruck.

Referee Phil Connett had still not quite played his full hand. In the fifth minute of injury time, with Christmas drawing ever nearer , he also sent Josh Freeman to the sidelines. Incredibly, another seven minutes playing time dragged on. By then the Maesteg faithful were more agitated about the number of Cardiff coaching staff on the field rather than the long lost result while Blue & Black fans were savouring the record 26-point contribution of Craig Evans - and everyone was making contingency arrangements for Hogmanay in case Christmas passed them by.


Official : Phil Connett (Wales)

Maesteg Cardiff