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