While the senior team kicked off their European season in Italy, another cup campaign started at the Arms Park, with Cardiff A taking on Nottingham in their first ever British and Irish Cup match.
Calvisano 9-50 Cardiff – Match Report: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/calvisano-9-50-cardiff/
A team coach Richard Hodges stuck largely with the team that beat Ospreys A in a friendly the week before, just Jarrod Evans missing due to being with the senior team, to be replaced by Gareth Davies, Seb Davies out with injury, his place taken by Miles Normandale, and Geraint Walsh and Liam Belcher dropped for Richard Smith and Ethan Lewis, respectively. The team was a nice mix of youth and experience, just as the A team should be really, and it was sure to be a good test against a Nottingham team in 6th place in the English Championship.
There was a decent chance of a win though, as the Green and Whites rested a few players to give some reserves a run out. Not only would Cardiff be playing the visitors, they would also be playing the conditions, as swirling wind and rain threatened to ruin any chance of a quality game, and certainly ended hopes of a large crowd.
The weather really was to create a game of two halves, as Cardiff A kicked off with the elements firmly at their backs. They started the dominant side, a sequence of penalties giving us territory, but it wasn’t until the 12th minute that Adam Thomas released Richard Smith to score in the corner, Gareth Davies nailing the conversion. It wasn’t until over halfway into the first period that Nottingham really had any possession, but a few minutes after that, they managed to spill the ball inside their own 22 and Owen Jenkins pounced to get himself a try. Gareth Davies notched the extras, and a further penalty to give the home side a 17-0 advantage at half-time. Not a bad scoreline at all normally, but in the weather conditions and after such a dominant 40 minutes, perhaps a slightly disappointing outcome.
It looked as if that very much would be the case after just 10 minutes of the second half, after Pila Iongi had touched down, and Lawrence Rayner converted as well as landing two penalties to bring Nottingham within four. It was the visiting outside-half again who, five minutes later, finished off some well constructed attacking phases with a try right under the posts, and, with the weather firmly at their backs, the away side had taken the lead. It was only brief though, as Gareth Davies landed another penalty to bring the scores level. The conditions stayed firmly with Nottingham as the last 15 minutes were played out mainly in the Cardiff half, but the defence stood strong for a draw to kick-off the British and Irish Cup campaign.
Full time: Cardiff A 20-20 Nottingham
A fair result on the day as the conditions ended any hopes of a proper rugby match. I imagine both teams will be fairly happy with the outcome given everything, perhaps Nottingham more so as they travelled home. Certainly some positives to take for Richard Hodges, in the performance of the younger players in the squad, and also Owen Jenkins and Richard Smith matching their back three colleagues Dan Fish and Tom James in the try scoring department. A trip to Old Deer Park to face London Welsh, who lost 28-21 to Cornish Pirates in the other pool game, is next up for the A side after the senior team play Harlequins on Thursday night. Come on Cardiff!