Eight tries and 55 points without reply would suggest a one-sided conclusion to Cardiff’s pre-season preparations, and indeed it was in the latter stages. Yet it was also surprisingly fractious with four off the ball outbursts of handbags at ten paces (which the Blue & Blacks comfortably won) and four yellow cards (which ended in a dishonourable draw at 2-all).
Or to put it another way, welcome to Weston-Super-Mare on Bank Holiday Saturday. The Blue & Blacks’ first brownie points of the day were earned by their punctual arrival, ensuring the prompt start of the match at 2.30pm. The loyal band of supporters were again made to feel welcome across the Bridge, with this time Weston gaining a mention in despatches for their generous hospitality just as Bridgwater, last year, and Mounts Bay, last week, had done previously.
What followed out on the pitch wasn’t always pretty and occasionally sloppy but, for the Blue & Blacks at least, there were several promising patches where everything clicked and gave much encouragement for the more demanding Premiership examinations ahead.Typically, after a staccato first half with the side leading by only 10 points going into added time, they then ran in three tries in five minutes for a healthy 29-nil lead at the break.
That the referee needed to add eight minutes in the first half and eleven minutes in the second was not entirely due to the stop-start nature of some of the play; it was more a case of an ever increasing interruption as the physios and medicos were called on to the fallen and wounded among the gallant South West One outfit.The longer the game went on the more the home scrum retreated on their own put-in and there were plenty of Cardiff poachers at Weston’s lineout throws.The lessons of the game are that several individuals continue to impress: Leigh Halfpenny, again as busy as a bee in everything he did, including a marvellous individual try; Adam Whitney, first to every breakdown and constructive with the ball in hand; Damian Welch, a real asset to an already strong lock fraternity; and several others who have laid down markers for starting places against Cross Keys next week.
Adam Powell finished with a try hat-trick, the first from a lineout catch and drive after a towering touch finder by Craig Evans and two from 5-metre scrums as Weston’s pack disintegrated and Andrew Hutchings ran in two from longer range. Chris Jones shone as Cardiff’s best ball-carrier throughout the first half and set up Welch for his first try for the club and the final try went to Rhys James after Chris Stamatakis supplied the final pass. Ryan Howells, having inadvertently found himself on the score-sheet when he didn’t actually play in Penzance, turned up this week, didn’t score, but, equally unlikely, received a yellow card in the 50th minute along with home scrum-half, Roger Drabble.
New club captain Tristan Davies pulled out shortly before the start for Richard Thomas to play at number 12 and Gareth Baber led the side. The other yellow cards went to Craig Evans, who took exception to a dangerous high tackle that pole-axed Halfpenny for several minutes (the miscreant, centre T J Madacombe, also received 10 minutes in the cooler).
In other words it was an afternoon packed with action - and, yes, everyone was in a positive mood. In the ninth minute of second-half added time as the hosts trailed 0-55, a lone voice in the crowd summed up what it was all about: “Come on West, we can win this…”