The Blue & Blacks gave a strong performance in their first full fifteen run out of the season against the students from UWIC
In a side that showed six new caps in the starting line up it took a while for the team to gel together on the pitch. Cardiff had most of the territory in the first quarter but couldn’t find the final pass to start the scoring ball rolling. It took 20 minutes of building the pressure before the student’s defence was breached. Several phases had worked the ball into the opponents 22 before Joe Griffin – who controlled the game throughout – gave a deft short pop pass to debutant Jac Hopkins to crash over under the posts.
Two minutes later the lead was doubled as a flowing move left Owen Williams with space to glide over for a try that Griffin converted. The pressure was now beginning to mount on the visitors as wave after wave of Blue & Black came at them, but their defence was solid and the front five didn’t give an inch at scrum time.
Eventually though the pressure was too great. A penalty was kicked to the corner, won and driven at the line, when that repelled Griffin was again able to set the backs going and when the ball was recycled captain for the night – Rhys Shellard was able to shake of two tacklers to score from close range. Cardiff added a fourth virtually immediately. Josh Navidi and Luke Hamilton worked the ball out of defence from the kick-off and when Richard Smith broke he helped the ball on to Jac Hopkins. The hooker had a 30 metre run to the line but made it just before being caught for his second of the night. Half time score Cardiff 26 – UWIC 0
Several changes were made in both sides during the break and it took a while for the replacements to settle in. UWIC settled the better and they got themselves on the scoreboard ten minutes into the second half when Brynley Toms drove over from short range. Cardiff’s response was swift. A half break by Griffin gave space to Richard Smith who showed why he was top try scorer last season. He burst through a gap and raced half the length of the field to score under the posts.
A minute later and the home side scored again. Lewis Smout was put in the clear for another front row 30 metre run in. By now the substitutes were keeping the PA announcer busy as Richard Hodges tested several combinations in the run up to the season proper. Griffin went to full back and Cameron Pimlow came on at pivot, partnered by Rhys Downs. The entire back row had a rest as changes were made all across the park.
It made no difference to the Blue & Blacks intent, trying to use the ball at every opportunity. And it was this style that led to the best try of the night. The ball was worked from side to side and up the field through several phases, virtually every player handled the ball. The visitors defence was pulled all over the park, and when space was created Harry Robinson was able to show his pace to round the defence and score under the posts.
UWIC did have the last say in the game, Craig Howells scoring after a mix-up in the home defence. Cardiff though will be happy with a successful run-out against a side that will trouble a lot of teams in Division 1. Next up for the Blue & Blacks is a sterner test with the visit of the Bedford Blues.
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