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.


Tries: R Jones, L Rees

Cons: J Maynard (2)

Pen: J Maynard


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

Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3