2008/2009 Principality Premiership
Aberavon 41 v 40 Cardiff
08 May 2009 - Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot

Match Report

Aberavon 41 Cardiff 40

A man-of-the-match performance by Gareth Davies and a stirring fighback that featured four sparkling tries in the final quarter weren't quite enough for the Blue & Blacks to finish their championship winning campaign with another victory.

The Wizards had done their homework on the Cardiff line-up beforehand and their targetting of the 8/9 link at set-scrums and rucks paid rich dividends in the first half. Time and again Cardiff's slow heeling at those phases produced turnovers and penalties for the opposition and Aberavon were almost out of sight by the interval.

They had drafted in lanky fly-half Matthew Jarvis, last seen in Swansea's colours at the Arms Park a month ago, and he proved a deadly kicker, finishing the match with 21 points from his boot, including five penalty goals. In the first half at least they also had a cutting edge behind the scrum.

But the longer the game went on it was the Blue & Blacks, inspired by the darting, on the gain line imagination of Gareth Davies, that wove the attacking magic.

There had been a promising start when a mix-up in the home defence from a Craig Morgan punt led to a try by Shaun James, converted from wide out by Davies. But that was the visitors' only score of the half. Richard Thomas, Chris Lewis and David Pritchard pounced for Wizards' tries and with Jarvis' boot doing the rest – a 48-metre penalty goal after a Cardiff retreating scrum summed up the visitors' problems – they were 25-7 ahead at the break.

That stretched by another three points immediately after the restart as the fly-half popped over an outrageous 52-metre effort downwind. Cardiff's backs finally clicked in the 53rd minute when Davies scored and converted his own brilliant individual try. Yet Aberavon still chipped away with a second Thomas try for their bonus point and another five points from the fly-half. At 14-38 with barely 20 minutes left to play the bugles were already beginning to play for an ignominious retreat from the Talbot Athletic Ground.

Then the cavalry arrived. Richard Cornock pounded down the middle and Gareth Chapman was on hand to finish the move. Next Davies broke out of defence and, again from long range, gave Chapman the scoring pass. Suddenly it was 26-38 and when Ryan Howells again struck from long range, converting his try himself with an audacious drop-kick, Cardiff were only five points adrift.

Sensing imminent defeat Jarvis gratefully accepted a simple penalty goal opportunity with six minutes left.

Again the Blue & Blacks stormed into the home 22 and, appropriately, it was Craig Morgan who brought down the curtain on the season with a darting run that brought back happy memories of so many of his great days for the club.

In the end, two bonus points in a one-point defeat was a good return from a match that in previous years would have probably ended in humiliation. That's the Cardiff Model 2009: never say die.


Official : Wayne Davies (Wales)

Aberavon Cardiff