MOTM Gavin Ronan with Swansea RFC Chairman Stephen Hughes.(Courtesy Viv Jones)
More Viv Jones images HERE
By: Paul Hopkins
It was a Premiership thriller at the Arms Park as the All Whites clinched victory with a magnificent comeback after finding themselves 24 points down inside the opening quarter.
The Blue and Blacks embarked on the first attack, but flanker Jordan Viggers was penalised for holding on after the tackle. Fly half Rory Garrett found touch inside the twenty-two, but Viggers made up for his error by charging down a kick and finding lock James Murphy. Just as it looked like the home side were on for a score, scrum half Martin Luckwell tracked back to defend.
Winger Ceri Young then raced into the Swansea twenty-two from a quickly taken free kick and centre Will Rees Hole made a break through the middle, with Viggers on his shoulder to race home to score. Fly half Gareth Thompson converted.
The lively Young then sprinted up to half way, finding full back Codey Rees in support. He got the ball out wide through Viggers, but his pass went behind winger James Beal, putting him on the backfoot and he was tackled into touch.
Centre Harri Millard and Beal combined to set up an attack and the Whites were penalised for offside at the breakdown. Thompson kicked the three pointer.
The All Whites finally made inroads into the Cardiff defence when number eight Jon Fox and lock Tudor Hughes combined to take play deep inside the opposing half. However, a poor pass was intercepted by Rees Hole, who chipped ahead for the chasing Millard to score. Thompson converted.
The Blue and Blacks played some enterprising rugby and almost added a third try, but the Whites’ defence managed to get back. The respite didn’t last for long though as the visitors gave away a penalty at the scrum. From the lineout hooker Joe Tomlinson charged forward, finding Thompson who threw a dummy and sent Rees Hole over for a simple try. Thompson converted.
Desperately needing the next score, the All Whites ran back at Cardiff from the restart with centre Ryan Evans breaking a tackle and finding fellow centre Jedd Evans, who used his pace to score in the corner. Wilson’s conversion attempt fell short of the posts.
Home number eight Ben Thomas was penalised for holding on after the tackle and Luckwell took a quick tap penalty, but the Blue and Blacks secured a turnover and cleared the danger.
Cardiff were back on the attack when flanker James Sheeky charged forward after stealing a lineout. Scrum half Liam Free attempted a drop goal, but his effort strayed wide of the posts.
Garrett found touch in the corner after the home pack drove into a maul from the side. Lock Gavin Ronan collected the lineout and handed the ball to prop Tom Sloane, who was driven over for the try. Wilson converted.
Prop Ben Leung was penalised for holding on after the tackle, but Wilson failed to make him pay by missing his effort at goal.
Instead it was Cardiff who extended their lead after Swansea were guilty of a late tackle. Thompson duly converted his kick at goal.
Winger Luke Griffiths fielded a loose kick and raced over half way, before the backs got quick ball out to Jon Bayliss on the other wing, only for him to step into touch.
Hughes caught a lineout and sent Ryan Evans on a run through the middle, forcing Cardiff offside at the breakdown. Wilson failed with his conversion.
On the stroke of half time Jedd Evans made a break in midfield and was supported by Perkins, but the Whites’ pack was slow to arrive and they gave Cardiff a reprieve.
Half-time:- Cardiff 27 Swansea 12
The visitors signalled their intent immediately after the interval and a stolen lineout saw Perkins charge through the middle, but the supporting Luckwell was caught napping at the base of the ruck and was turned over.
A huge scrum by the Whites’ pack forced the Blue and Blacks to give away a penalty. Wilson opted to kick to the corner rather than at the posts and his decision paid off when hooker Ashleigh James was driven over for a try from the lineout. Wilson converted.
Young when made a break and was brought down, but the Swansea defence had stepped offside. Free tried to take a quick penalty, but prop Mitchell Walsh prevented it, earning himself ten minutes in the sin-bin.
The home side went in search of a bonus point try when Rees Hole looked to run out of defence, but he became isolated and was penalised for holding onto possession in the tackle. Wilson again opted to kick to the corner.
From the lineout, Sloane broke through a tackle, forcing the defence offside. A second lineout saw Hughes power towards the line, before Fox took a crash ball to score under the posts. Wilson converted.
Cardiff extended their lead to seven points when the Whites were guilty of straying in front of the kicker. Thompson kicked the penalty goal.
Griffiths took a high kick and fed Fox, who battered the Cardiff defence with a powerful run. Wilson was handed a penalty chance when the home side failed to roll away at the breakdown, but he missed his effort at goal.
A superb link up between Bayliss and Griffiths saw the latter brought down just metres short of the try line. The pack were quick to provide support and managed to create a platform for Luckwell to get the ball out to Griffiths, who rolled over to score in the corner. Wilson missed the chance to tie the scores by failing to convert.
Wilson missed a drop goal, but play was brought back for a penalty. This time the full back made no mistake to kick his side into the lead.
A huge scrum by the Whites pack earned another penalty. Wilson kicked to the corner and from the lineout Perkins drove up to within five metres of the line, only for replacement flanker Adam Thresher to drop the ball.
Deep inside injury time the Swansea forwards mauled up to within a couple of metres of the line and Luckwell came close to scoring, before Cardiff claimed possession thanks to a reversed penalty.
The Blue and Blacks were unable to gain any attacking impetus in the dying seconds as the All Whites celebrated an amazing comeback.
Next up for Cardiff is a home match against Pontypool in the National Cup, while Swansea host Cross Keys in the league.
Full-time:- Cardiff 33 Swansea 34
Tries:- Jordan Viggers (7), Harri Millard (14), Will Rees Hole (18)
Cons:- Gareth Thompson (8, 15, 19)
Pens:- Gareth Thompson (11, 37, 56, 62)
Tries:- Jedd Evans (20), Tom Sloane (29), Ashleigh James (52), Jon Fox (59), Luke Griffiths (71)
Cons:- Jac Wilson (30, 53, 60)
Pens:- Jac Wilson (75)
Yellow cards:- Mitchell Walsh (56)
Venue:- Arms Park, Cardiff
Referee:- Elgan Williams
Weather:- Clear, 2C
Man of the match:- Luke Griffiths
15 Codey Rees
14 James Beal
13 Harri Millard
12 Will Rees Hole
11 Ceri Young
10 Gareth Thompson
9 Liam Free (rep: Tom Slater 73)
1 Rob Lewis (rep: Joe Gaughan 36 (rep: Scott Griffiths 69))
2 Joe Tomlinson © (rep: Joe Page 41)
3 Ben Leung (rep: Aled Rees 80+8)
4 Jack Davies
5 James Murphy
6 James Sheekey
7 Jordan Viggers
8 Ben Thomas
25 Joe Page
17 Gavin Nash
18 Aled Rees
19 Scott Griffiths
20 Joe Gaughan
21 Tom Slater
22 Harry Griffiths
23 Paul King
15 Jac Wilson
14 Jon Bayliss
13 Ryan Evans
12 Jedd Evans
11 Luke Griffiths
10 Rory Garrett (rep: Adam Williams-Parry 51)
9 Martin Luckwell (rep: Rhodri Wells 80+7)
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Dan Kenny 80+4)
2 Ashleigh James (rep: Ricky Guest 80+4)
3 Mitchell Walsh (rep: Richard Murphy 80+4)
4 Gavin Ronan
5 Tudor Hughes
6 Jay Williams (rep: Adam Thresher 77)
7 Jack Perkins
8 Jon Fox
16 Ricky Guest
17 Dan Kenny
18 Richard Murphy
20 Emyr Williams
19 Adam Thresher
21 Rhodri Wells
23 Adam Williams-Parry
22 Josh Jones