It’s been a few weeks of high profile Welsh Premiership games for the teams in the Cardiff Blues Development Pathway, with the Piemen Derby, between Merthyr and Cardiff, being followed by the Valleys Derby fought out by Pontypridd and Merthyr.
These games have been beefed up by a fair few Cardiff Blues senior and academy players, providing some valuable experience for the younger lads and game time for the older players. Twenty-two players in total have been utilised between the three teams, with especially Cardiff RFC being used as more of a full-time second XV, as broken in the news last season.
The first game in this edition of Development Pathway news was a few weeks ago at The Wern in what was billed as Peter Thomas vs Stan Thomas. Cardiff RFC travelled up the A470 with Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Jarrad Hoeata, Cam Dolan, Lewis Jones, Jarrod Evans, Harri Millard, Aled Summerhill and Rhun Williams in their starting XV, joined by Rhys Carre and Morgan Sieniawski on the bench, to take on Terri Gee’s Merthyr.
Young fly-half Evans was at the centre of much of the early play, landing two penalties and setting up a try, before Harri Millard’s yellow card allowed Merthyr back into the game through two tries before half-time. Former Cardiff Blues hooker Rhys Williams extended the Ironmen’s lead, but a Lewis Jones try wonderfully set up by Millard closed the gap. Only a late try for the home side sealed the win for Sir Stan and his men.
Pontypridd had to wait until the week after to play their next game due to Sardis Road’s pitch overhaul, as they travelled to Llanelli with Liam Belcher, Josh Novell, Dane Blacker, Garyn Smith and Aled Summerhill in their starting lineup, and Cameron Lewis on the bench.
Scrum-half Blacker was the star of the show with his first two tries of the season while Smith set up another to see Ponty win 41-29, also thanks in part to a try saving Summerhill tackle from full-back when the game was still in the balance early on.
That weekend saw Cardiff RFC host Bridgend with Rhys Carre, Kieron Assirratti, James Down, Jarrad Hoeata, Seb Davies, Cam Dolan, Tavis Knoyle, Harri Millard and Rhun Williams starting and Corey Domachowski joining James Sheekey on the bench.
The score was opened by Down, making his 100th Rags appearance, claiming a lineout and setting up the maul for Davies to go over. Chances went begging for Hoeata and Millard, before Rhun Williams snuck over from a quick tap penalty. Bridgend fought back hard but the Blue and Blacks held out for a 18-12 win.
To round off that weekend Merthyr, with Terri Gee on the wing, suffered their first Premiership loss of the season, going down 19-37 at home to Bedwas. However, the big game was this week when they travelled down to Pontypridd and opened the new 4G pitch at Sardis Road.
Terri Gee was again out wide for the Ironmen, while Ponty lined up with Liam Belcher, Josh Novell, Tavis Knoyle and Cameron Lewis in the starting XV, Dane Blacker and Declan Williams on the bench. It was more a story of former Cardiff Blues than current ones though, as Gareth Davies scored and setup a try for Merthyr, only for Ceri Sweeney to get Ponty back into the game with a brace.
Hooker Rhys Williams extended Merthyr’s lead and the scoring was rounded off by Terri Gee’s first try of the season to show the scoreline as Pontypridd 21-39 Merthyr. An historic victory for Stan’s boys in front of a record breaking 27,000ish crowd at Sardis Road, to leave the Ironmen third in the table and the Valley Commandos down in 10th.
On the same weekend, and rounding off the recent Premiership action in the pathway, Cardiff played host to Llandovery at the Arms Park, naming the team below where it was quicker to name non-Cardiff Blues players in the starting XV than those who aren’t. The Rags being used as a proper second XV at last.
Another try from impressive full-back Rhun Williams, as well as eight points from Jarrod Evans’ boot, were not enough to see off the Drovers who triumphed 23-28 on the day, with Lewis Jones seeing yellow during an ill-disciplined affair in the capital. Cardiff RFC currently lie 9th after four games.
Thursday 29th September – Newport v Merthyr (19:15, Rodney Parade)
Saturday 1st October – Bridgend v Pontypridd (14:30, Brewery Field)
Swansea v Cardiff (14:30, St Helens)
Saturday 8th October – Merthyr v Ebbw Vale (14:30, The Wern)
Neath v Cardiff (14:30, The Gnoll)
Pontypridd v Newport (14:30, Sardis Road)
In the WRU Wednesday U18 competition the first round of matches were completed this week. In group on, Cardiff and Vale College topped the table with an unbeaten three weeks, including a one-point victory away at reigning champions Coleg y Cymoedd, who eventually finished runners up. Ysgol Glyntaf came third in their first season at this level ahead of the only non-Cardiff Blues pathway in the group, Coleg Llandrillo.
There was also development pathway representation in group three as Cowbridge Comp finished top, winning both their games, while Whitchurch High were runners-up ahead of Bridgend College. Very successful indeed for all teams concerned!