Cardiff Arms Park in August: the sun shone; there were new players seemingly everywhere; the play flowed; and the hog was (eventually) roasted.
It was the tastiest of pre-season appetisers with the mood set in the ninth minute when perfectly timed passing in midfield sent full-back Leigh Halfpenny bursting through the opposition defence at full pace. A text-book pass completed the move with a try for another newcomer, Dan Meredith from Beddau.The half-time lead was only 8-0, with Halfpenny adding a penalty goal for killing the ball. But the fun and games soon started after the resumption. With 14 changes plus the full value Halfpenny now in action, the tries mounted rapidly.
The Cardiff faithful suspected something was afoot when the new number 10 was introduced as Gareth Davies. No, not the Majid of old but a former Penallta pivot who was full of tricks and treats. He bewitched the Bees with a deft punt to the open-side which was gobbled up by Halfpenny (who else?) who interpassed with Richard Thomas before touching down. For good measure he converted and then immediately added the extras again from wide out after Elgan Jones finished off another fine move featuring Davies and Ryan Price.Cardiff’s scrum was increasingly dominant and when the ball popped out of a Bees’ feed, Thomas sent out a clever pass for Jones to cross again.Next it was the turn of another new wing, Ryan Howells from Newport.
Two fine individual efforts, the first the zaniest of zig-zagging runs through the heart of the defence, the second an opportunist interception and clear run-in, produced another brace with Halfpenny converting the second.The Bees never gave up, contributing three tries in 11 minutes through Cameron Mitchell, Mike Mangeolles and Kyle Palm, all converted by John Higgins.But at the very end Richard Thomas, who increasingly looked a fine acquisition at outside centre, again provided the final link for Chris Stamatakis to gallop over. Fittingly, Gareth Davies converted from the very edge of the right touchline. It was quite like old times.
Then a hog was roasted….