Cardiff’s cup run came to an end at the Arms Park on Sunday.
Visitors Aberavon had made the better start to the game, gaining territorial advantage in the early minutes that was to lead to the only score of the first half.
In the two previous league meetings interceptions have led to tries and this game was to be no exception as Wizards flanker Aaron Bray picked off a pass at the base of the scrum to set up a position under the shadow of the home side’s posts. As the ball was spun wide an overlap had been created and wing Chris Lewis scored near the corner.
In an error strewn first half the only other chances came for the boot of the opposing outside-halves. Matthew Jarvis pushing two attempts wide for the visitors and Scott Sneddon hitting the post for the Blue and Blacks, but as the half time whistle blew it was Aberavon who were in front on the score board.
The second half started pretty much as the first had finished, neither side really getting any decent possession, and when they did have it errors stopped any momentum. Jarvis extended the Wizards advantage with a short-range penalty before Sneddon got Cardiff off the mark with one of his own. Aberavon though were to extend their lead further with two more Jarvis penalties that looked to have given the Wizards breathing space.
And when Lewis went over in the corner for his second try the tie looked to be all but done. However referee James Jones found some injury time – 12 minutes of it. That gave the Blue & Blacks hope, and despite being down to fourteen men following an injury and no substitutes left, they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the visitors.
Constant pressure set up a position in the away twenty-two and when Sion Hopkins darted over it looked as if it would be no more that a consolation try. Sneddon converted and when the game was restarted Dan Godfrey and Simon Grainger, who had both been outstanding all game, put the Blue & Blacks back in the Aberavon half. Somehow the Wizards defence had switched off thinking the game was over. Richard Smith was able to capitalise by scoring following a move that had gone through several pairs of hands. Sneddon again added the extras.
There was still time, and from the kick-off Cardiff had to score, but the earlier handling mistakes came back with a vengeance as the Blue & Blacks fell one score short of what would have the most amazing comeback.
So it is Aberavon who progress to the semi-finals, leaving Cardiff to look to finish in the top six in the league.