The A team could not make it a double Cardiff win weekend as they fell to pool leaders Cornish Pirates at the Arms Park, two days after a memorable win on a European Friday night under the lights in the capital. The visitors kept up their 100% record in the British and Irish Cup this season, and left us with a lot of work to do if we want to qualify for the knockout stages.
A fantastic CAP night, Cardiff 37-27 Montpellier: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/cardiff-37-27-montpellier/
After an opening draw with Nottingham was followed by a disappointing loss to London Welsh, Richard Hodges made a number of changes to the A side, that saw Tom Isaacs start at outside centre and Tomos Williams return from injury at scrum-half, as well as Scott Andrews being utilised at hooker with Pontypridd’s Rhys Shellard at flanker.
The Cardiff A story so far: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/category/match-reports/a-team-match-reports/
The new-ish look Cardiff side got off to an absolute flyer, although not on the same scale as the first team, when Chris Dicomidis thought he’d got a try inside five minutes, but a forward pass scuppered his celebrations.. Nevertheless, it was just eight minutes in when Tomos Williams went down the blind side, Aled Summerhill made the break and fed Richard Smith, who got the opening try despite a quick forward roll on the way to the line.
A missed conversion from Cardiff RFC’s James Thomas mattered little though, as within 10 minutes we had conceded two tried from Pirates winger Jack Arnott. Summerhill may well be disappointed for both tries as they came from chips over the top, leaving his defensive positioning wanting somewhat.
The home side did try and get back into the game, Summerhill again continuing his positive involvement in attack, but an overlap from a scrum worked by James Sheekey was squandered and then the ball lost forward. It was to be the last involvement from Summerhill as he, along with his fellow promising academy member Owen Lane, were forced off after half an hour, Garyn Smith and Callum Hall replacing them.
The changes stunted the Cardiff A attack, with plenty of possession never really going anywhere, and we were punished just on half-time, as Laurence May slotted a penalty to give Cornish Pirates a 5-15 lead at the break.
After some words at half-time, Cardiff A flew out of the traps again, Richard Smith looking for some deja vu as he battled up to a few metres from the line, before it was taken on by the forwards but lost in the redzone. Not such a bad thing, but from the turnover Cornish Pirates wound their way up the field. A penalty into the corner gave them the platform to set up the maul, and it was Aaron Carpenter who benefited.
May’s conversion gave the Pirates a 17 point margin, but it was short lived as another back line re-shuffle worked in Cardiff’s favour. The impressive Blue and Black, Will Rees-Hole, was the latest injury victim and with only Lewis Jones left on the bench it was his scrum-half colleague Tomos Williams that was forced onto the wing.
It was a wise move from coach Hodges as it turned out, with Garyn Smith now playing in his natural midfield role, he combined with Jones to send the substitute over. Another missed conversion didn’t help as the A team attempted a first XV-style comeback, but it wouldn’t have mattered as the visitor’s defence stood firm and 22-10 was how the scoreboard stayed.
A dour note to end the weekend on as the A team again failed to gel for a full 80 minutes. Individual performances haven’t been a problem, and this weekend was no different as Scott Andrews, James Sheekey, Jevon Groves and Will Rees-Hole impressed again. However, the overall team performance was a let down, and Richard Hodges will hope to be able to get the team out onto the training pitch as a unit this week, as well as praying injuries aren’t serious.
The return game next week in the deepest, darkest West Country is absolutely crucial. Win, and we stand a chance of seeing the knockout stages, lose and it’s bye-bye Cardiff A for this season. Come on Cardiff A!