LLANDOVERY 17 CARDIFF 35

What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas

Cardiff reached their first WRU Cup final in 12 years when they got the better of the Drovers in a rumbustious semi final at Neath writes Huw S Thomas

The Drovers beat Cardiff 20-18 in the their first final back in 2007 and this was as just a tight a game despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise

Cardiff last won the Cup in 1997 when they beat Swansea 33-26 and on this form will fancy their chances against Merthyr on April 28.

They were deserved winners of an absorbing contest at the Gnoll in front of a four figure crowd.

They made far fewer errors than Llandovery, took their chances better and tackled with gusto when the Drovers came back to 25-17 and looked really threatening with 15 minutes to go.

But the Blue and Blacks finished as strongly as they started getting their fifth and final try at the death through fly half Gareth Thompson.

The Cardiff tackling was nothing but ferocious throughout the game with big hits on Llandovery players bringing a brace of tries.

Cardiff coach Steve Law saw their defence the key to the game.

“We knew that if Llandovery had space and time their backs would cut us to pieces so we were off the line like lightening and not only managed to frustrate them but also turn them over at key moments.”

A firm pitch and sunny weather promised a fast and open game and within two minutes Cardiff were in the lead after a sweeping attack up the right saw centre Ben Thomas send skipper and captain Joey Tomlinson racing in.

Thompson converted well and then added a straightforward penalty after full back Ed Howley had made a fine break from his own half.

Fly half Jack Maynard got Llandovery back into the game with a 35 metre penalty but no sooner had he scored than Cardiff No 8 Morgan Allen took advantage of an overlap to cross wide out.

Things got worse for the Drovers when a spilled ball and poor tackling gave Ed Howley the chance to chip ahead and win the race for the touchdown for a 20-3 lead

Centre Ryan Evans was all but through in Llandovery’s first real attack before flanker Stuart Worrall was held up on the Cardiff line.

From the resulting scrum, Llandovery’s build up patience was finally rewarded when a run from lock Jack Jones set up a try for centre Rhodri Jones, Maynard converting from in front of the posts.

It was a much needed boost for the Drovers who went into the break 20-10 down after having made a lot of unusual handling and tackling errors.

Llandovery had a real let off when Cardiff centre Will Rees-Hole lost the ball in the act of scoring but soon after Howley took advantage of more suspect tackling to squeeze in at the corner.

Back came the Drovers with a Rhodri Jones break sending in scrum half Lee Rees for a try concerted by Maynard.

They then forced a close range line out only to be robbed by the Cardiff jumpers before a yellow card for scrum half Martin Roberts reduced Cardiff to 14 men with 15 minutes to go.

It mattered not as Thompson kicked a crucial penalty in the 75th minute to put his side 11 points ahead and then intercepted a loose Llandovery pass to sprint in for the killer try which he himself converted.

Llandovery

Tries: R Jones, L Rees

Cons: J Maynard (2)

Pen: J Maynard

Cardiff

Tries: E Howley (2), J Tomlinson, M Allen, G Thompson

Cons: G Thompson (2)

Pens: G Thompson (2)

Llandovery: G Thomas; M Williams, R Evans, R Jones, A Warren; J Maynard, L Rees; J Hughes, R Guest, B Watkins, R Jones, J Jones, L Ellis-Jones, R Brooks (capt), S Worrall

Replacements: D Dallavalle. L Green, M Moore, M Jones, E Price, S Miles, K Jones, R Williams

Cardiff: E Howley; M Llewellyn, B Thomas, W Rees-Hole, J Gatt; G Thompson, M Roberts; T Davies, J Tomlinson (capt), P Lloyd, K Martin, C Bradbury, T Daley, M Allen, Z O’Driscoll

Replacements: R Carre, I Jenkins, F Young, S Pailor, J Murphy, S Gibson, S Jones, L ap Myrddin

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 27 21 0 6 798 501 107
Llandovery 28 20 1 7 803 492 98
Cardiff 26 19 1 6 771 547 95
Ebbw Vale 28 19 1 8 671 512 90
Pontypridd 25 18 0 7 840 480 89
Newport 29 16 2 11 726 678 83
Aberavon 25 16 2 7 569 478 78
Swansea 28 15 0 13 625 552 75
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 26 12 1 13 669 556 73
Carmarthen Quins 29 13 1 15 616 544 71
Llanelli 29 11 1 17 622 710 58
Bedwas 28 10 1 17 615 786 52
Bridgend Ravens 26 9 0 17 544 651 50
Cross Keys 27 5 1 21 552 925 35
Bargoed 27 6 0 21 522 872 33
Neath 26 1 0 25 367 1026 3