Cardiff bowed out of this year’s Challenge Cup following defeat to Neath at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
In an entertaining first half in which both sides tried to play expansive rugby it was the Welsh All Blacks that struck first. Virtually straight from the kick off they regained the ball in the Cardiff twenty-two and scrum half Josh Guy found space to score. Ed Howley added the conversion.
Cardiff struck back shortly after as the open game continued. The ball was worked down the wing as Cameron Gibbon and Ceri Young combined. That move was stopped though but the ruck ball was used wisely in mid-field as Will Rees Hole was sent over. Diggy Bird converted and was on target with a long range penalty to put the Blue & Blacks ahead for the first time. That lead was short lived though as a couple of missed tackles allowed Howley to get behind the defence. His final pass to Gavin Evans allowed the centre to score under the posts. Howley converted and added a penalty to extend the visitor’s lead. Back came Cardiff. This time a lovely angle run by Cameron Gibbon and a beautifully timed pass from Bird put the wing over for a try that the outside half converted to level things up again.
Neath got there third try of the half with a few minutes left. This time it was the pack who were to claim the touchdown as they rumbled a lineout over the Cardiff line, Leon Ward being credited with the score. Bird narrowed the gap just before half time but it was Neath who went in to the dressing rooms 22-20 ahead.
Compared to the first half the second half was a bit of a let-down. The game was mostly played between the two twenty-twos. Bird and Howley exchanged penalties early in the half before the Neath wing added his second of the half. But that was as far as the scoring went. For the last ten minutes of the game the home side threw everything into trying to get the winning score. But a combination of dropped passes and infringements meant the Blue & Blacks finished the game with just a bonus point to show for their efforts.