The Principality Premiership is now four weeks deep into the 2017/18 season, and already it’s thrown up a mixed bag for the three sides based within the Cardiff Blues development pathway.
This season has seen a change in format for the top Welsh semi-professional league, away from the mid-season split and to a competition that sees those in the east and those in the west face each other in the first half of the campaign, before amalgamating after Christmas.
End-of-season play-offs and the Fosters Challenge Cup have been scrapped, much to the pleasure of the clubs involved, although a straight home-and-away format still seems to be the favoured format.
With the geographical split in the Premiership it’s been derbies aplenty for Cardiff, Pontypridd and Merthyr, starting with the blue and blacks who travelled to take on old rivals Newport at Rodney Parade.
A winning start for Cardiff saw Patric Lewis grab a hat-trick as they secured a try bonus point, being joined as winners by Merthyr, who benefited from a Ben Jones try against Cross Keys, but not by Pontypridd who slipped to a 27-39 defeat at home to Bedwas.
Ponty would have to wait until round two to register their first victory, with a 6-17 defeat of Ebbw Vale, before Cardiff and Merthyr played out the first inter-pathway derby at the Arms Park with the home side victorious 24-17.
Things have gone from bad to worse for last season’s champions since then, with the Ironmen going down 24-37 to in-form Bedwas at The Wern, before losing the big Valleys derby 42-29 to Pontypridd at Sardis Road. Head Coach Dale McIntosh has certainly been less than impressed.
Ponty themselves had lost to Newport the week before, leaving them third after the first four rounds of the season, three points ahead of Merthyr in fifth.
It’s Cardiff who are the revelations though, sneaking past Bargoed thanks to a Jack Roberts try, before hammering Cross Keys at the Arms Park with help from a Will Rees-Hole hat-trick. Four wins from four with two bonus points leaving Steve Law’s men in second place.
23rd September – Bargoed v Merthyr, Cardiff v Ebbw Vale, Merthyr v Newport
30th September – Bedwas v Cardiff, Ebbw Vale v Merthyr, Pontypridd v Cross Keys
In Welsh semi-professional rugby’s second tier it was a tough start to life for newly promoted Rhydyfelin, as they travelled to reigning Championship champions Pontypool, going down 27-0 at Pontypool Park.
It was a similarly difficult opening weekend for Cardiff Met, who slipped to a 27-22 defeat away at Tata Steel, but Beddau beat Glynneath 27-14 to get a win for the Cardiff Blues development pathway.
The second week was far more successful as all three teams registered victories, Cardiff Met and Rhydyfelin to Narberth and Skewen, respectively, while Beddau travelled to Newbridge.
However, only Met could back that up in round three with a win over Newcastle Emlyn, as Beddau fell to Narberth and Tata Steel defeated Rhydyfelin.
As a result Cardiff Met and Beddau are tied on 10 points in third and fourth place, while Rhydyfelin sit second bottom of the Championship table.
22nd September – Glynneath v Cardiff Met
23rd September – Beddau v Skewen, Narberth v Rhydyfelin
30th September – Cardiff Met v Newbridge, Rhydyfelin v Trebanos, Tata Steel v Beddau
The WRU College League has also returned to action on a Wednesday, with the newly amalgamated Cardiff & Vale and Cowbridge Comprehensive side comfortably overcoming Llandovery College 43-10, while last season’s runners-up Coleg y Cymoedd beat Gower College by the even bigger scoreline of 63-14.
Ysgol Glantaf also got off to a winning start, beating Coleg Llandrillo 10-31, but Whitchurch were on the end of a tough 52-8 defeat at the hands of Neath Port Talbot College, but bounced back to earn a losing bonus point against Pembrokeshire College in week two.
Glantaf ran the champions close as they lost 17-31 to Coleg Sir Gar in the second round, while in the battle of the big colleges within the Cardiff Blues pathway, Cymoedd took the spoils as they beat CAVC/CC 23-45 at the Arms Park.
27th September – Coleg Llandrillo v Whitchurch High, Coleg y Cymoedd v Brigdend College, NPT College v Cardiff & Vale/Cowbridge, Newport High v Ysgol Glantaf
4th October – Coleg Gwent v Whitchurch High, Newport High v Cardiff & Vale/Cowbridge, Pembs College v Coleg y Cymoedd, Ysgol Glantaf v Gower College