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By: Paul Hopkins
An outstanding defensive performance helped Swansea claim their first victory of the season over Cardiff at a wet St Helen’s.
The All Whites looked sharp in the opening exchanges with flanker Jack Perkins and scrum half Matthew Aubrey making probing runs, forcing the Cardiff defence offside in midfield. Full back Josh Martin missed his effort at goal.
Then it was the Blue and Blacks’ turn to mount an attack with prop Ben Leung crashing over the gain line, but Aubrey tracked back to hurriedly clear winger Ceri Young’s threatening chip through.
It was the home side who took the lead on 14 minutes when centre Will Rees-Hole stayed up strong in a tackle, sending lock James Murphy powering to the twenty-two. Leung took the ball on and released a pass to hooker Joe Tomlinson, who stretched over to score in the corner. Fly half Diggy Bird missed the conversion.
Swansea hit back immediately when prop Sam Martin claimed the restart and sent centre Ryan Evans on a run in midfield. Josh Martin was on hand to provide support and got quick ball out wide to send centre Jedd Evans over for a try. Josh Martin converted.
The visitors should have scored when Rees-Hole made a break in midfield and linked up with Young, but his pass out wide was deemed forward by referee Gareth Newman.
A superb steal in the lineout by lock Tudor Hughes sent Ryan Evans on a half break to set up an attack. Hughes then made a barnstorming run, knocking over two Cardiff defenders, with hooker Paul John in support. The forwards recycled the ball quickly with winger Richard Williams scoring in the corner. Josh Martin missed the conversion.
Five minutes before the interval Bird kicked to the corner from a penalty after the Whites’ pack collapsed a scrum. However great work by the Swansea forwards prevented the visitors from releasing the ball from a maul, earning a turnover.
Half-time:- Swansea 12 Cardiff 5
The Whites should have had an opportunity to kick three points ten minutes into the second half when the Cardiff pack collapsed a scrum, but the penalty was reversed after Swansea player spoke out of turn.
From the lineout replacement scrum half Mike Hale sidestepped past a defender across the twenty-two, but Rees-Hole took the wrong option by kicking to the corner when he had men over.
With the Swansea pack on top for most of the match, the Blue and Blacks began to even things up and looked dangerous as they mauled forward. Winger Olli Smyth made a break out wide with flanker Luke Crocker staying up strong in the tackle. The Whites’ defence were caught offside and Bird kicked to the corner. Lock Seb Davies collected good lineout ball, but Swansea prop Tom Sloane dived onto a loose ball to secure a turnover.
When Rees-Hole kicked to the corner Hughes was penalised for a tackle off the ball. He was reprieved though when Tomlinson’s failed to throw the lineout straight.
Another well weighted kick by Rees-Hole was chased down menacingly by full back Lewys Montague, but Hughes tracked back to shepherd the ball dead.
The visitors looked set to score a second try when centre Luke Ford scooped up a ball from the ground and sent Crocker racing down the wing. Prop Rob Lewis took out three tackles, before flanker Jon Vaughan made a try saving tackle on replacement wing Gareth Thompson.
The lively Hale looked to made inroads in the Swansea defence, forcing them offside. Bird kicked the resulting penalty to bring his side to within four points.
In the closing stages the Blue and Blacks mounted wave after wave of attacks on the Swansea line but the defence remained resolute, giving the home side their first win of the season.
Next up for Swansea is a home match against RGC 1404, while Cardiff travel to Neath.
Full time:- Swansea 12 Cardiff 8
Tries:- Jedd Evans (19), Richard Williams (34)
Cons:- Josh Martin (20)
Tries:- Joe Tomlinson (16)
Pens:- Diggy Bird (77)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Gareth Newman
Weather:- Cloudy, 13C
Man of the match:- Tudor Hughes
15 Josh Martin
14 Richard Williams
13 Ryan Evans
12 Jedd Evans
11 Keelan Giles
10 Julian Mogg (rep: Jac Wilson 69)
9 Matthew Aubrey (rep: Martin Luckwell 71)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Mitchell Walsh 69)
2 Paul John (rep: Ricky Guest 54)
3 Sam Martin (rep: Richard Murphy 69)
4 Gavin Ronan (rep: Adam Thresher 69 (rep: Jamie Williams 72))
5 Tudor Hughes
6 Jon Vaughan ©
7 Jack Perkins
8 Jon Fox
16 Ricky Guest
17 Richard Murphy
18 Mitchell Walsh
19 Adam Thresher
20 Jay Williams
21 Martin Luckwell
22 Jac Wilson
23 Josh Jones
15 Lewis Montague
14 Olli Smyth
13 Luke Ford ©
12 Will Rees Hole (rep: Paul King 66)
11 Ceri Young (rep: Gareth Thompson 53)
10 Diggy Bird
9 Tom Slater (rep: Mike Hale 37)
1 Rob Lewis (rep: Aled Rees 66)
2 Joe Tomlinson
3 Ben Leung (rep: Gavin Nash 66)
4 Seb Davies
5 James Murphy
6 Jordan Viggers
7 Luke Crocker (rep: Johnathan Edwards 66)
8 Ben Thomas
16 Gavin Nash
17 Aled Rees
18 Joe Page
19 Jack Davies
20 Johnathan Edwards
21 Mike Hale
22 Gareth Thompson
23 Paul King