Cardiff
2008/2009 Principality Premiership
Cardiff 33 v 22 Swansea
04 April 2009 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Swansea

Match Report

Cardiff 33 Swansea 22

It's getting better and better. A first season's-double over Swansea, an eleventh consecutive Premiership win stretching back over five months – and top of the table.

The Blue & Blacks were out of the starting blocks with a bang against their long-established bogey side – Swansea had won on their last four visits to the Arms Park – and had secured their fourth try and vital bonus point before half-time.

Not the least pleasing aspect of the sunny but windswept afternoon's rugby was the heartening and fully deserved support that the team is getting from the home crowd. They had plenty to shout about in the first half in particular. With the strong wind at their backs they refused to take the easy option of booting the ball downfield but surprised their opponents by keeping it in-hand and attacking from all parts of the pitch.

The positive strategy soon paid dividends as a prolonged build-up through several phases ended with the ever-alert Damian Welch bursting over for the opening try, converted by Gareth Davies.

Swansea were not short of attacking intent themselves, though flanker David Blyth's response six minutes later owed as much to some powder-puff tackling as anything else. The Swansea flanker continued to be a potential thorn in the Blue & Blacks' side throughout the rest of the match – partly, it has to be said, because of his penchant for off the ball blocking that bordered on a work of fine art.

Cardiff's second try was an individual gem as Swansea failed to find touch on Cardiff's right and two long passes found Nathan Rees on the left and the winger surprised the defence with his genuine pace, beating two men en route to the line for another seven-pointer.

The Blue & Blacks were now breaking the first line of defence at ease and great work by Davies, who was in another sweeping move twice, set up the final charge by Craig Everett for another converted try.

A 38-metre penalty goal by Nicky Thomas reduced the deficit to 8-21 but Cardiff ended the half on a high with more fine interpassing and an unconverted try for the third member of the back row, Adam Powell.

Early in the second half Swansea prop Tim Evans was carded after a general warning for killing the ball had been ignored. What followed was clinical punishment as Cardiff opted for a close-range scrum and, after the first eight-man drive had been illegally halted, the second resulted in an inevitable penalty try. That made it 33-8 after 52 minutes and the only disappointment was that there was no further scoring from the team.

There were, though, extenuating circumstances. With Powell injured and no back row replacement on the bench, hooker Rhys James was switched to cover the flank position for the final 35 minutes. To add to their woes, Rees, who had been impressive in attack and defence throughout, was stretchered off with a leg injury near the end. Swansea, too, had shown great spirit in their fightback,with tries from Richard Payne (65th minute) and Nicky Thomas (71st), both converted by the full-back, giving the final scoreboard an air of respectability they fully deserved.

So, eleven on the trot and Bedwas next up at the Arms Park on Good Friday. Last season Bedwas stole the show with a big win at the ground. The challenge for the Blue & Blacks will be to make sure that as they go in seasrch of the round dozen they don't end up as Easter bunnies.

 

Official : David Jones (Wales)

Cardiff Swansea
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