‘West is Best’ proclaimed the seats in the stand, but on this occasion East was Better as Cardiff claimed a first win at Parc-y-Scarlets and a first away win in the Premiership against Llanelli.
The rain was swirling around the ground as the teams took to the pitch resulting in a game littered with mistakes. But it was the visitors who made the better start, the pack driving the ball into the heart of the Llanelli defence before spinning the ball wide, only to be halted by a forward pass.
More pressure lead to a cross field kick by Craig Morgan that Ryan Howell just failed to gather. From the resulting ruck though Cardiff were awarded a penalty that Chris Anderson slotted for the first points of the game. The conditions then played a part in the next score as from a high up and under the ball landed in the visitors 22. No one could claim the ‘bar of soap’ until Llanelli centre Reynolds hacked the ball over the line and flopped on it, a score which was converted by Dan Newton.
The Blue & Blacks closed the gap shortly after with another Anderson penalty following a charge by Ian George, but ended the half with 14 men as Ryan Howells was harshly yellow carded.
The second half saw the home side throw everything at the visitors in the opening moments, but Cardiff held firm, Rhys Shellard typifying the defensive effort with a try saving cover tackle. Llanelli did extend their lead but only by three through another Newton penalty.
Then the Blue & Black’s pack took hold of the game. With Rhys James to the fore they strangled the Llanelli eight and produced several turn overs. One of these lead to the defining moment of the game. A series of scrums saw two resets and two Blue & Black penalties. On the third Cardiff took another scrum only to see it collapse and the referee go under the posts. Jarvis added the extras to the penalty try.
The last ten minutes saw Cardiff defend comfortably against the home attacks that consisted mainly of up and unders and when they were awarded a long range penalty Jarvis stepped up to give the visitors a little more of a cushion. And that’s how it finished.
As a game of rugby not a classic but having never won away at Llanelli in the ‘new era’ Cardiff will take it. As rugby experience all that was missing was Phil Steele interviewing Miss Carmarthen in the hot tub.