After a break of two years Cardiff returned to the St Helens Ground in Swansea looking to add to their good record in recent encounters with the All Whites. A week of torrential rain had left pools of water in the in-goal area at either end of the pitch and with more heavy rain during the game things were always going to be difficult for both sides. A much changed Cardiff side showing nine changes from the team that lost against Llandovery were looking to bounce back, but it was the home side (without a win since returning to the premiership) that started the more strongly. The opening few minutes saw concerted attacks from Swansea and they were rewarded when Cardiff strayed offside giving them a penalty opportunity in midfield. Surprisingly the kick was missed and the Blue & Blacks were able to clear their lines.
It was now the visitors turn to apply some pressure and after a period of sustained pressure (with James Murphy and Ben Leung prominent) Joey Tomlinson was released on the wing, just inside the Swansea 22. Although tackled, Tomlinson was not held and managed to make it to the line to score the opening try of the game, Diggy Bird’s conversion attempt from the touchline failed to hit the target but the Blue & Blacks led 5-0 and were seemingly in the ascendency. The old adage that a side is at its most vulnerable having just scored was once again proved to be true as from the kick-off Swansea recycled the ball quickly and centre Jedd Evans was put over near the posts. The easy conversion was put over by Josh Martin.
Both sides had opportunities to score as play ebbed and flowed but it was the home side that scored next when, after good work by the forwards, wing Richard Williams scored in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed but leading 12-5 the All Whites approached the interval with optimism. Cardiff tried to apply the pressure in the last few minutes before the break but a resilient Swansea defence (aided by the torrential rainstorm just before half-time) thwarted Cardiff attempts to narrow the gap.
In the second half both sides struggled to gain the upper hand and for long periods play was confined to the area between the 22s with neither team able to exert any periods of dominance. After a period of ‘arm wrestling’ Swansea finally won a kickable penalty, only to find the decision being reversed when one of their players said something that incurred the wrath of the referee. Cardiff finally began to gain the upper hand but a resilient home defence kept the visitors at arm’s length. Several chances for Cardiff to score went begging as kicks just eluded the potential try scorer or players were overcome by ‘white line fever’. Cardiff did pull back three points when Diggy Bird kicked a long range penalty with ten minutes left but a determined Swansea held on to clinch the points. A losing bonus point was scant reward for the afternoon’s endeavour as the Blue & Blacks look forward to another trip west next Saturday with a visit to the Gnoll to play Neath.