Cardiff RFC Season Review 2014 - 2015

Season 2014-2015

Played: 30

Won: 18

Lost: 12

Drawn: 0

Points For: 706

Points Against: 597

League Finish: 4th

In the end the Blue & Blacks finished a respectable fourth in the Principality Premiership but everyone involved in the club will know it could have so much better had a few results gone their way.

Last season’s seventh place finish was improved by winning two more games and gaining five more bonus points. Those bonus points though included several for losing by less than 7 in games that had they been won a third or even second place finish could have been achieved. The squad and the coaching staff will though be heartened for next season given the performances and the commitment show by everyone at the club.

The season started with three friendlies. Two at home, that were all won. Against Coventry at the beginning of August at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park the Blue & Blacks ran in 4 tries with Shaun Powell, who was to go on to gain his 100th cap later in the season on the scoring sheet. At Merthyr the away side came out on top in a hard fought game that was very scrappy. Again four tries were enough in a 26-11 victory. In the last pre-season game Cardiff played a very strong Richmond side that had led for most of the game. Nick White and Mike Stephens scored the tries but it was the boot of Dean Gunter with three second half penalties that gave Cardiff a narrow but deserved 24-21 win.

The first competitive fixture was in the British & Irish Cup qualifier against Pontypridd at Sardis Rd. The visitors were competitive for 60 minutes, but Ponty stepped up a gear in the last twenty minutes to go on to qualify as Blues Region representatives winning 40-12.

The Principality Premiership campaign started with an eight try romp in the sunshine at the Arms Park. Bridgend were put to the sword by the Blue & Blacks as most of the backline scored. George Watkins though was the star of the show with a hat-trick. A week later Llanelli were the visitors. The home side record their first win in five games against the men from down West and again scored four tries to give them the bonus point, This time though Watkins could only manage two tries.

The first defeat of the season came against Cross Keys at the end of September. On the day the Keys were the better side but Cardiff battled hard and ended up with a losing bonus point in a 24-30 defeat, Dean Gunter landing 4 penalties and a conversion to go along with two tries from the pack. Church Bank had not been a happy hunting ground for Cardiff, in fact now win in 8 attempts was the record before this game. George Watkins was again on the score sheet along with former Scotland prop Bruce Douglas. Four more Gunter penalties saw the Blue & Blacks home 22-13. A win the following week against the Black and Ambers looked like it would be a formality give their start to the season. Cardiff flew out of the blocks and were two tries to the good within 15 minutes. But that was as good as it got as Newport stormed back into the game. In the end the home side were lucky to come away with a 17-14 win.

The Autumn International season then kicked in and Cardiff lost players up the ladder. Against Carmarthen at the Park the home overpowered the Blue & Blacks on a stormy day running out 27-9 victors.  Two friendly game were arranged in the International window, Pentyrch and Sengynydd both visited the Arms Park and the coaching staff were able to look at new players and combinations as both were sent sides were comprehensively beaten. In between those games a Friday night league visit to Aberavon resulted in a narrow 19-18 win, James Whittingham scoring 14 of the 19 points with Tavis Knoyle scoring the only try. The night though will be remembered for the defensive effort that kept the Wizards at bay in the dying minutes to earn a one point win.

December brought wins at home over Neath and Bedwas before playing the top two teams over the Christmas period. The Blue & Blacks gave unbeaten Ponty a scare as the led 6-0 until very late in the game, only two late tries denying the home side a victory. In the wind and rain of Eugene Cross Park Cardiff came up against an Ebbw Vale side that revelled in the conditions with some traditional up-the-jumper rugby, five tries to two tells the story as the Steelmen’s pack took total control of the game.

Cardiff got back on the winning road a week later at Bridgend with five tries, two by Dan Fish and one each from Ceri Young, Thomas Pascoe and Jack Phillips enough to do the double over the Ravens. A week later and a losing bonus point was gained at Pandy Park, but it should have been so much more as two or three chances we left on the field that would have won the game. A mid-week cup re-arrangement at the Arms Park saw Bridgend as the visitors looked like a home win given the results of the previous games. As ever though counting and chickens came to mind as Cardiff saved their worst performance for the Cup and were dumped out by eventual finalists 22-12.

The ups and downs of the season were played out the following Saturday when Carmarthen Quins, who were third in the table visited the Arms Park. A five try win in a style of rugby that would have been enjoyed by all who were lucky to witness it, In the sunshine the Black and White of the Barbarians would not have looked out of place as Johnny Edward, James Sheekey, Tom Slater and two from Chris Knight gave Cardiff a 33-21 win. A lot of praise should also be given to the Quins who also played their part in one of the most enjoyable games of the season.

Away at the Gnoll Neath pulled themselves out of the relegation zone as the Blue and Blacks up and down season went on the downward curve once more. Chance after chance went begging as Cardiff lost 15-10.  This was the first of a run of four games that most observers would have expected the Blue & Blacks to win as all four teams were near or at the bottom of the table.  In fact only 7 points were gained from the 20 that were on offer, and that reflected the eventually fourth place finish. Newport away was the only win, two home defeats to Llandovery and Aberavon left the Blue & Blacks with everything to do to qualify for the playoffs.

Up at Sardis Rd Pontypridd continued to sweep away any challengers, and so it was with the Blue & Black’s visit as the home side triumphed 40-10. Pontypridd showed Cardiff the standard they need to reach if they wish to be challenging next season and the Blue & Black set about try to achieve that away at Llanelli. The home side were very much out of all competitions but at home are a difficult side. The first half saw Cardiff go in trailing but five second half tries by Harry Davies, Ellis Wyn Benham, Will Rees Hole, Rhys Williams and Ceri Young earned a bonus point win. That was followed by another four tries at Bridge Field the following week as the sunshine seemed to inspire the Blue & Blacks, another bonus point win kept faint hopes of the play-off alive. That hope was extinguished during the week as Cross Keys booked the final place at Bridgend and all that was left was a Friday night date with second placed Ebbw Vale. With the sun well and truly hidden Cardiff failed to fire and were beaten by a side that will, if they progress past Cross Keys, provide Pontypridd with a stern challenge in the final.

Three caps were awarded during the 2014/15 season. Bruce Douglas, Jack Phillips and Craig Lodge the recipients. On a sadder note several former Blue & Blacks passed away Peter Nyhan, John Hickey and Howard Norris passed during 2015 and former Club President CD Williams was lost at the begging of the season, all will be sadly missed. Three current Cardiff RFC players were picked for a Barbarian game during the season, Johnny Edwards and James Goode played against the Combined services and Bruce Douglas against his former club Heriots FP.

The final table shows Cardiff in fourth level on points with Bedwas but above them on the two results between the two clubs, Cardiff having won both games.

2014-15
TR PG CV DG PTS
DEAN GUNTER 32 18 132
JAMES WHITTINGHAM 1 16 15 83
WILL REES-HOLE 7 35
GEORGE WATKINS 7 35
HARRY DAVIES 5 1 1 30
TOM SLATER 5 25
MIKE STEPHENS 4 20
ELLIS WYN-BENHAM 4 20
GERAINT LLEWELLYN 4 3 18
JOE GRIFFIN 1 1 4 16
DAN FISH 2 1 13
JOHNATHAN EDWARDS 2 10
IEUAN JONES 2 10
CHRIS KNIGHT 2 10
MATTHEW MARLEY 2 10
JACK PHILLIPS 2 10
SHAUN POWELL 2 10
RICHARD SMITH 2 10
NICK WHITE 2 10
RHYS WILLIAMS 2 10
CERI YOUNG 2 10
BRUCE DOUGLAS 1 5
MIKE HALE 1 5
TAVIS KNOYLE 1 5
ETHAN LEWIS 1 5
JAMES LOXTON 1 5
THOMAS PASCOE 1 5
BEN ROACH 1 5
JAMES SHEEKEY 1 5
TOM WILLIAMS 1 5
65 54 41 1 572

 

TOTAL     START REP
24 WHITE NICK 18 6
24 SMOUT LEWIS 16 8
21 EDWARDS JOHNATHAN 20 1
21 DOUGLAS BRUCE 12 9
20 LODGE CRAIG 16 4
20 PHILLIPS JACK 16 4
20 SLATER TOM 15 5
19 GOODE JAMES 19  
19 GUNTER DEAN 15 4
18 LOXTON JAMES 14 4
17 LEWIS ETHAN 12 5
16 POWELL SHAUN 14 2
16 YOUNG CERI 14 2
16 ROACH BEN 11 5
16 MURPHY JAMES 9 7
16 JONES JOE 5 11
14 DAVIES HARRY 13 1
14 REES-HOLE WILL 13 1
14 NORMANDALE MILES 10 4
14 LEWIS CALLUM 5 9
14 TOMLINSON JOE 2 12
13 WYN-BENHAM ELLIS 10 3
13 WILLIAMS RHYS 8 5
12 STEPHENS MIKE 9 3
12 PASCOE THOMAS 7 5
11 SHEEKEY JAMES 10 1
10 WHITTINGHAM JAMES 8 2
10 HALE MIKE 6 4
10 FOWLER AARON   10
9 BREEZE MARK 6 3
9 DAVIES THOMAS 6 3
7 WATTS-JONES RORY 6 1
6 THOMAS WILL 5 1
6 GRIFFIN JOE 2 4
6 JONES IEUAN 2 4
6 BAIRD WILL 1 5
5 WATKINS GEORGE 5  
5 LEE GEORGE 2 3
5 MARLEY MATTHEW 2 3
5 LEWIS ROB 1 4
4 ANDREWS SCOTT 4  
4 FISH DAN 4  
4 SMITH RICHARD 4  
4 GROVES JEVON 3 1
4 LLEWELLYN GERAINT 3 1
4 VIGGERS JORDAN 3 1
4 KNOYLE TAVIS 2 2
3 MITCHELL CRAIG 3  
3 PARKER SAM 1 2
3 WILLIAMS TOM 1 2
2 FILISE TAUFA'AO 2  
2 KNIGHT CHRIS 2  
2 REED LOU 2  
2 HARRIES RORY 1 1
2 PHILLIPS BRYN 1 1
2 PHILLIPS IWAN 1 1
2 EDWARDS MORGAN   2
2 WILLIAMS TYLER   2
1 AP MYRDDIN LLWYARCH 1  
1 FRANCIS DAVID 1  
1 WILLIAMS LLOYD 1  
1 CONNOR MIKE   1
1 DOMACHOWSKI COREY   1
1 HALL CHARLIE   1
1 JONES LEWIS   1
1 PIPER TOM   1
1 RONAN DEAN   1

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