Cardiff A kicked off their British and Irish Cup preparations with a comfortable win at home to their Ospreys counterparts. The team, made up of a mixture of youth and experienced fringed players, struggled early on, but moved through the gears and ended up running six tries over the line by the end.
Elite Performance Pathway manager Richard Hodges took charge of his first game as the official Cardiff A Head Coach, and had selected a well balanced starting XV, led by Jevon Groves and featuring senior players such as Scott Andrews and Adam Thomas, alongside younger stars in Jarrod Evans and Liam Belcher, that was complimented nicely by a bench full of academy talent and an average age of under 20.
In front of a decent crowd for a cold, wet Wednesday night, who had all paid a donation to #StayStrongForOws, Cardiff started slowly despite having more of the ball. There was no instant click with many of the players hardly having played together before, and ill discipline didn’t help, as the A side seemed to be following in the footsteps of the senior side. Successive infringement gave Joel Matavesi two shots at goal which he executed to give Ospreys a 6-0 lead.
It took until the 24th minute for Cardiff to really join the game, and it was an opportune chance that was taken well by flanker Ben Roach. Ospreys had a line out in their own 22, that just went all wrong, and Roach was on hand to scoop up the ball and power over from close range. Jarrod Evans added the extras to give us a lead we would never give up. Next up was Chris Dicomidis to cross the line, after Ospreys gave up two penalties which were put into the corner, and the forwards rumbled over. The away side did briefly get back into the match, fairly against the run of play, as Lloyd Evans made an interception and fed Keelan Giles to make the hard yards before Martin Roberts got the easy run in. However, Cardiff were quick in restoring a comfortable lead just before the half with a wonderful move starting with the impressive Evans releasing Owen Jenkins, on a beautiful inside line, who drew the full back for Lewis Jones to touch down for a 21-13 half-time lead, after the conversion.
The second half was a Cardiff A masterclass. On the front foot from the first kick, Ospreys A defence held out for all of eight minutes until Jarrod Evans scored a penalty, and the floodgates opened for twenty minutes. First, Dillon Lewis got on a clean break, feeding Rhun Williams, but his pass to Jenkins was illegally slapped down by Giles, who had a yellow card for his trouble. Evans put the resulting penalty into the corner, and a catch and drive pushed Macauley Cook over. Fly-half Evans nudged his kick wide for the first time of the night, but it didn’t matter as the home side stayed composed while camped inside the redzone to work on overlap for Roach’s second try of the night. Callum Hall, on for Evans, added the extras before the scoring was completed with 10 minutes to go. Cardiff’s pack drove back their Ospreylian opposition to give captain Jevon Groves the easiest of easy jobs to touch down over the line, and Hall rounded off the evening.
Full time: Cardiff A 43-13 Ospreys A
A successful first outing for the new, official A team as they dominated the Ospreys for a good 60 minutes of the game. A number of senior players got valuable minutes under their belts, and more importantly, there was plenty of young players on show making their mark. While nobody had a bad game, I’d like to point out Liam Belcher, Ben Roach, Jevon Groves, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith and Owen Jenkins as particularly impressing. At the same time I’d like to wish lock Seb Davies a speedy recovery after dislocating his shoulder in th first half, the only real Cardiff sour point. All in all an extremely pleasing night for Richard Hodges and his team, and they will be hoping to carry this form into the British and Irish Cup campaign which starts with the visit of Nottingham to the Arms Park on Saturday 14th November, 2.30pm kick-off.