2005/2006 Konica Minolta Cup
Bonymaen 16 v 23 Cardiff
18 February 2006 - Parc Mawr, Bonymaen

Match Report

Bonymaen 16 Cardiff 23

Chris Anderson kicked a penalty goal in the fourth minute to give Cardiff a lead they never lost against high-flying Bonymaen. It was the perfect tonic for a team that has played better than recent Premiership results might suggest. The inspiration was again provided by a workmanlike pack in which all eight players contributed significant performances.

If Chris Stamatakis was yet again the stand-out player then the other seven forwards were not far behind. Michael Leaman has returned from his long absence refreshed and ready to be an equally effective hooker in tight and loose. Packing alongside him were two lively props, with Nathan Trevett galloping all over the pitch and Darren Fenton once more playing through the pain barrier and proving himself the ultimate team man.

After several months of waiting, Fenton goes under the surgeon's knife next week so that his shin injuries can finally be resolved. In effect, this match will be his last of the season but he surely deserves an award for the way that week after week he has courageously and uncomplainingly made himself available for the good of the Blue & Blacks.

Rob Meredith slotted in well in the lock position and promises to shore up a potential weak link in the pack as injuries and unavailability take their toll. Most encouraging of all, James Malpas benefited from the presence of two worthy lieutenants in the back row. Neil Coles and new man Gareth Gravell are equally abrasive on the flanks. They take no prisoners in their tackling and their ball carrying is deceptively effective.

Suddenly, the Cardiff pack looks well-equipped for the Premiership run-in. Meanwhile all the side can reflect in the glory of a third consecutive away win in the Cup. It was a special day for Dean Dewdney, leading the side from scrum-half and still sniping and worrying the opposition's defence close to scrums and rucks.

Richard Davies is providing a cool head in midfield, this week in the inside centre position. His defence was particularly important in the opening stages as Bonymaen, defending an unbeaten home record and runaway leaders of Division One, threw wave after wave of attacks on Cardiff's line. But, encouraged by Anderson's early penalty, the defence held and then went onto the front foot in clinical fashion. 

When flanker Ewan Hopkins became the first of Bonymaen's three sin-binnings in the 15th minute, Dewdney opted for a kick into the corner rather than a comfortable penalty goal. The enterprise paid off as from the lineout Gravell dived over for the opening try.

Bonymaen responded with a penalty goal by full-back Gareth James but the Blue & Blacks soon struck again. From a lineout on half way Anderson cleverly chip-kicked behind the defence and the ever alert Davies gathered the ball to link with Nick Gill before Elgan Jones finished off the move far out on the right. Anderson's conversion established a 15-3 lead but the home side refused to lie down.

In the 39th minute a break out from their own 22 resulted in an excellent try for wing Lyndon Johnson, who touched down with a presidential air. Immediately after half-time Richard Jones crossed for another try from a 5-metre scrum to reduce the deficit to two points.

Now Cardiff showed their real spirit. Another sin-binning, this time to replacement hooker Steffan James, was fully exploited. As in the first half the penalty kick was put into the corner. The catch-and-drive try this time needed four attempts - and three infringements by Bonymaen - before Michael Leaman claimed the touchdown.

James and Gareth Williams-Davies then exchanged penalty goals in a frantic finished that stretched to over 12 minutes of injury time and yellow cards for Bonymaen's Leighton Gerrard and James Malpas.

Cardiff's jubilation at the end was fully justified. Whatever the slip-ups in the Premiership the Blue & Blacks deservedly go into the quarter-final draw of the Konica Minolta Cup next Tuesday.