Points For: 835
Points Against: 744
League Finish: 9th
Tier 2: 6th
Cardiff RFC’s 140th season started with an away trip to Skewen in the middle of August. With several new faces on display there was plenty of opportunity for them to show what they could do. It was though the established players that made the early mark as Luke Ford Olly Smyth and Gareth Thompson scored in the first half before a brace by Joe Tomlinson and Wayne DaCruz saw off the home side 57-10. Taunton we next to be put to the Blue & Black sword at the Arms Park as six tries, including another brace from hooker Tomlinson saw off the Titans 42-12.
The Premiership season started against Newport as a new structure and four new teams were introduced. In the first half of the season teams would play each other once either home or away before a split just after Christmas would see the top and bottom eight contest two separate leagues in the New Year. That meant getting a good start on the field and the Blue & Blacks did just that against their oldest enemy as 3 tries (two from Ceri Young and one from Rhun Williams) were added to Jarrod Evans steady goal kicking started the campaign with a narrow but deserved 25-22 victory. Next up were new comers Merthyr who had spent heavily in the summer to recruit a team to challenge for the title. On a new 4G pitch Cardiff had the better of the game but were undone by panic at the end of the game when a try would have secured victory. Wrong options and poor control meant they slipped to a 24-18 defeat.
Bridgend Ravens were the next visitors to the Arms Park and again a narrow win was secured. In a scrappy game Cardiff shot out to a 10-nil lead but were pegged back by the Ravens before a Rhun Williams pick up one handed off the floor saw the full back score for an 18/10 win. After the game James Down was presented with his club blazer for playing in his 100th game.
Three defeats in a row followed. First at home to Llandovery in another close game, this time former Blue & Black Jack Maynard was the thorn in the side as he secured a 23-28 victory with two late penalties and a try.
More disappointing were the defeats at St Helens and the Gnoll were the Blue & Blacks simply didn’t turn up. With the teams on show in both games Cardiff should have won these games against sides that were eventually to finish 14th & 15th in the league.
A break from league action saw a great win at Aberavon who had been unbeaten until then in the Challenge cup before the Ravens got revenge for the earlier season defeat 29-7 at the Arms Park. It was then back to the league with a win at home to the Quins in a Halloween thriller. 24-21 was the final score but the pace of James Beal, which was to be on show for most of the season, was the difference as the flying wing grabbed a brace.
A week later and Cardiff took Aberavon’s unbeaten Premiership record as the flying wing scored a beauty to go with 17 points from Diggy Bird’s boot. That was followed by a bonus point win over another of the promoted clubs – Bargoed. It was such a good day against the third promoted side as a long trip to RGC ended with a heavy defeat at the hands of the North Walians.
Cardiff got back on the winning track against the Keys as a complete performance and 5 tries destroyed the Gwent team, Beal, Thompson, Will Rees Hole and Young all on the score sheet. At Parc-Y-Scarlets on the next weekend Cardiff Blue Cam Dolan was outstanding as he led the team to another bonus point win with a brace of tries. That pushed the Blue & Blacks into the top eight with three tough games left before the split.
Two games in the Challenge Cup – both resulting in losses to Neath and a friendly against Clwb Rygbi to celebrate their 50th anniversary we sandwiched in between before the challenge of Pontypridd. In a game that swung back and fore Cardiff snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as a forward past in the final seconds with the line beckoning saw a defeat that was hard to take. That meant the trip to Ebbw Vale was do or die in terms of the top eight and it ended with another agonising loss 24-20.
The final game of the first part of the season saw Bedwas take the spoils as they clinched their top tier place. In the final two Challenge cup games Cardiff experimented with the side and that saw both games against Neath & Bridgend end in defeats.
The first round of the cup saw the first visit to the Arms Park of Tata Steel and former player now coach Matthew Llewellyn bring his side for a game that was only there for Cardiff to loose. The final score of 76-22 reflected the gap between the Championship lower half and the Premiership. 11 tries including a hat-trick and 27 point by Gareth Thompson saw the Blue & Blacks through. But it wasn’t such an easy task in round two as Championship leaders Pontypool came to prove a point after being left out of the Premiership at the end of last season. A large travelling support roared their side home as a shell shocked Cardiff could do nothing losing 43-32.
Tier Two had also started badly. Two more losses to sides that Cardiff should have beaten – Neath & Swansea – meant Cardiff had an uphill struggle to get into the top four for the play offs. Three weeks later that dream was over. A poor game at Newport end 17-8 to the Black & Ambers. Llanelli played Barbarians style rugby for the last 20 minutes of the game and snatched a 20-17 victory at the Arms Park before Bridgend hammered the nail into the Blue & Black coffin 33-26 at the Brewery Field.
That left two games and in both Cardiff played the way they should have in the previous three. Wins at Pandy and Bargoed Park moved them into 6th in the Tier Two table but it was a disappointing end to what had started with such optimism.
The season was brought to a close with the annual dinner, this year held to mark 140 years of Cardiff rugby. The event took place at the Millennium Stadium and with well over 200 guests the history of Cardiff –past and present – was celebrated in style.