2009/2010 SWALEC Cup
Cardiff 7 v 3 Bedlinog
16 January 2010 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff

Match Report

Cardiff 7 Bedlinog 3

We begin with another unflattering (and probably unwelcome) statistic. When the Blue & Blacks were awarded the match-winning penalty try in the twelfth minute of added time, it was the first time the team had troubled the scoreboard in 174 minutes of rugby action. Lee Jarvis' converted try at Sardis Road in the 78th minute five weeks ago was beginning to rival Teddy Morgan's legendary score that beat the All Blacks in terms of being fresh in our memory. (That, you will remember, was in 1905.)

On the positive side, there's no denying that if possession (and in this case territory) is as they say nine-tenths of the law then Cardiff deserved to win by a huge margin. But they didn't – and if Bedlinog had managed to hold out for another 60 seconds or so they would now be deservedly writing a new chapter of Swalec Cup history to rival that of St Peter's.

Clutching at straws, it could be pointed out that Rhys Shellard (an honourable exception to the shell-shocked contributions all around him) and his pack dominated scrums and lineouts but there is little point in having so much ball if all that happens is that it is moved laterally, back and fore, across the field before sooner or later (usually the former) it is dropped, passed behind the receiver, of simply surrendered into touch.

Undeniably the Blue & Blacks had to contend with a gluepot pitch (no complaint there, but hats off to the ground staff for getting it fit to play) and an opposition that slowed the ball down in contact situations with surprising ease. Yet the latter inconvenience could and should have been sorted out, if not by the referee, then by a Premiership pack against one from Division One East.

It didn't take long for a sinking feeling to settle in. All of 15 minutes passed before Ryan Howells set up the first try-scoring opportunity only for the ball to be spilled on Bedlinog's line. After another five the referee awarded the first penalty, testimony to his worthy effort to keep the game moving in difficult conditions. And when the visitors gained their first penalty in the 26th minute, hard earned as they chased an aimless punt and caught the ever adventurous Gareth Davies in possession, centre Ben Grzesica gratefully slotted the 35-metre goal. He almost doubled that two minutes before half-time but pushed the 25-metre attempt wide.

Trailing at the interval, Cardiff were expected to overhaul the deficit on the resumption. But Bedlinog's restart was knocked-on – shades of the Boxing Day debacle – and so continued another 40 minutes of poor skills and inadequate game management. It was already apparent that, not for nothing, are Bedlinog known as the Foxes as they outwitted the opposition at the breakdown and gave them a lesson in maximising their resources and playing to their strengths.

Periodically, Cardiff would give up their attacking ambitions behind the scrum. Typically, in the 55th minute a catch-and-drive covered the best part of 20 metres up the left touchline before, deep in the 22, the ball was released only for the midfield half-break to be contained and a penalty awarded for not releasing – with another ten metres added for verbals.

Five minutes from the end of normal time Davies and Howells were again the leading lights in a break upfield only for it to fizzle out in the shadow of the posts. Then came what turned out to be 14 minutes of added time: the first 11 largely comprised of set-pieces inside the 22, culminating in four reset five-metre scrums near the right corner and then the penalty try and Davies' conversion.

With the large Bedlinog contingent in the stand and on the terrace baying for more time, the referee (presumably a sensible disciple and fully paid-up member of the Self-Preservation Society) allowed a restart, a penalty to the visitors, a lineout and scrum near Cardiff's corner and then the final whistle.

It wasn't quite a case of St Peter's Mark 2 but Cardiff's red faces confirmed that it could have been....

Official : Huw Griffiths (Wales)

Cardiff Bedlinog