Cardiff RFC Season Review 2005 – 2006

The season started with a friendly against Bargoed at the Arms Park that filled the home side with confidence after a 55-17 win. The following week at Birmingham & Solihull the Blue & Blacks held their own until half time before the home side brought on a completely new team for the second half, this being their first XV who ran away with it to win 71-16.

The league season opened with a crushing defeat away at Ebbw Vale, the home side scoring 7 tries. That was followed by the now traditional loss at Talbot Athletic Ground. In the side that day was a future Wales prop, Rhys Gill, currently playing at Saracens. It was not to be a good September for the Blue & Blacks, further losses at home to both Bridgend and Neath. The loss against the Ravens was a very disappointing one. 17 points to the good with thirteen minutes left, the visitors scored three times to win 24-20. It did though secure the first point of the campaign but left Cardiff rooted to the foot of the table.

The first win came in the first week of November against Llandovery. Leon Andrews, Michael Leeman and Elgan Jones on the score sheet in a 21-13 win. The first win on the road came at Carmarthen Park. Cardiff produced a real team effort on the day to fight back from an interval deficit and another score against them shortly after the restart to dominate the closing stages of a lively encounter, running out winners 23-19.

The rest of the month and the beginning of the next were back to the dark days of the start of the season. Three losses against Llanelli 7-15 in awful conditions at Stradey Park before two home losses to Cross Keys and Newport both games at the Arms Park being ones where the Blue & Blacks simply gave the game away by too many mistakes. Revenge was gained against Ebbw Vale 18-7 at home. The game was not a thing of beauty as far as a game was concerned but league points were at a premium and any win was a bonus at this stage. The most disappointing loss of the season came at Pontypool Park on a freezing Wednesday night. Cardiff dominated the game but all we had to show for it on the scoreboard was four penalties. The only try coming late in the second half to Pooler. Cardiff did have a chance to win it with a simple kick right at the death, but the way the season had been going the ball hitting the post and not going over was inevitable.

That was followed by a loss at Bridge Field before a diversion in the cup. Cardiff visited Laugharne and were made to feel really welcome, despite a hike up hill from the clubhouse to the ground everyone enjoyed the day out in West Wales, Cardiff running in five tries. Mark Lewis, the Cardiff Blues back row, leading from the front. But the league defeats kept coming Maesteg and Bridgend the latest to topple the Blue & Blacks and as Christmas approached Cardiff languished one from the bottom of the table.

Luckily for Cardiff there were other teams who were also struggling and one of those teams were dispatched at the Arms Park as Glamorgan Wanderers were beaten 22-14 over the festive period, Nick MacLeod kicking five penalties and a conversion of James Goode’s try. The meeting at our other Regional cousins ground didn’t go quite as well. The New Year game at Sardis Road going all the way for the visitors for the first twenty minutes and then the way of the home side for the rest of the game.  Aberavon won at the Arms Park a week later before the cup returned. A visit to Tonmawr resulted in a 12-6 win before three league losses on the bounce. Neath away, Llandovery away and Swansea at home before the cup again returned. Bonymaen in February was a cold and windy place to be but despite a vocal home crowd, Cardiff came through 23-16.

That win seemed to jolt Cardiff into life. Llanelli were beaten at the Arms Park in the eighth minute of injury time before another victory this time at Pandy Park. Cardiff ran in six tries including one from current Ospreys centre Tom Isaacs, playing at scrum half that day. The winning run was halted at Rodney Parade before being restarted in the cup at home to Llandovery. The following week Cardiff ran in four tries against an ‘ageing’ Maesteg side. One wag likening it more to the Old Peoples Home than the Old Parish. That was followed by a win against Pontypool at home again with a bonus point. A young Jamie Roberts at full back scoring a brace of tries.

That took Cardiff just clear enough danger and wins of sides below them helped lift them in to tenth overall, but only six points from the bottom. That only left the little matter of a cup semi-final at Rodney Parade against old enemy Pontypridd. The Blue & Blacks gave one of their most impressive performances of the season, but too many mistakes allowed Ponty to capitalise and despite territorial advantage for most of the game Cardiff’s cup run ended one step from the final.

Neath were eventual winners of the league, a title that they went on to dominate for the next few years.

Cardiff 16 13 0 3 396 243 61
Carmarthen Quins 17 10 3 4 372 278 54
Aberavon 16 11 0 5 371 272 53
Llandovery 16 9 2 5 344 285 48
Pontypridd 18 10 0 8 394 376 47
Merthyr 18 8 0 10 362 374 44
RGC 1404 17 8 1 8 409 381 43
Newport 15 7 0 8 294 278 37
Swansea 17 7 0 10 246 292 35
Llanelli 15 6 0 9 293 412 27
Ebbw Vale 17 4 2 11 283 351 27
Bridgend Ravens 18 3 0 15 271 493 19