Any trip to Carmarthen Park is difficult, but a lunch time encounter with the league leaders was likely to be a tough game. Add in a biting wind blowing down the ground from the town end and looking at previous trips down west supporters may have feared for the outcome. The 2018 version of Cardiff is a more resilient animal than some of the former teams at this stage of the season. Narrow defeats by Llandovery and last season’s champions Merthyr have been followed by bonus-point wins against Neath and Swansea and a side playing with confidence.
Cardiff had the advantage of the strong wind in the first half, but spent most of the first quarter defending in their own half as Quins attacked strongly with some excellent three-quarter moves. Such was the cold that the game could have descended into a boring forward-dominated affair as the packs kept warm with a forward orientated battle. Both sides should be commended that they were prepared to spread the ball. In spite of the territorial dominance of the home side they could not trouble the scorer and it was Cardiff that scored first. As the game approached half-time the Blue and Blacks made a rare excursion into Quins territory and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts near the home 22 – Gareth Thompson having no difficulty in slotting the points. Within a few minutes the lead had been doubled. A Quins infringement near half way was punished with a penalty that Thompson magnificently put between the uprights. As the interval (and warm changing room) beckoned Cardiff increased their lead. A break out of defence was ended when Daf Smith broke through the last tackler and put Adam Jones clear for the centre to score with ease, Thompson adding a simple conversion. Quins were desperate to get on the scoreboard and got their chance as the half drew to a close with Aled Thomas slotting over a simple kick from in front of the posts.
Cardiff led 13 – 3 at the break, but the worry was that with the strong wind blowing against them in the second period had they scored enough. The second period was as entertaining as the first as both sides looked for tries and it was the visiting support that were to be the happier as Dan Fish sneaked over on the blind side after a series of forward drives near the Carmarthen line. As the home defence spread to the open side to cover a ruck near the touchline the ball was slipped to Fish to touch down. Once again Thompson was on target as his kick into the wind and from the touchline sailed effortlessly between the posts. Within ten minutes Cardiff thought they had secured the points when Fish broke clear to dot down but the referee and touch-judge deemed Cardiff to have gained possession illegally and the try was ruled out. Carmarthen were trying everything to score but the Cardiff defence was standing firm until with quarter of an hour left Quins eventually found a way through as Aled Thomas scored a try from close range, converting it himself to reduce the lead to 10 points. With time running out Cardiff finally put the result beyond doubt as Gareth Thompson broke clear to score a try, which he converted and then with the last play of the game Keiron Brown picked up near half way and burst through the covering defence. The prop still had a long way to run but fortunately Daf Smith was outside him and the wing took the pass and burst into the 22. When he was brought down just before the line the forwards were able to retrieve the ball and Brown was able to finish the move that he had started as he dived over. Thompson ended a perfect performance with the boot by converting to give Cardiff a well-deserved win.
Congratulations to Rhodri Cole on winning his club cap.