The final weekend of September saw an Indian summer sweep over South Wales, and it almost brought with it a clean sweep of Cardiff wins with just two points required to make it three from three.
Following on from the Cardiff Blues first team’s victory over Cheetahs on Friday night, Cardiff Blues A took to the field at the Arms Park on Saturday afternoon to face Munster A in the Celtic Cup, looking to bounce back from defeats to other Irish sides Leinster and Ulster.
T Rhys Thomas and Richie Rees brought in some experience in key positions, as Rhys Carre returned from Pro14 duty, Ethan Lewis packed down at hooker, Lewis Jones and Steve Shingler formed the half-back partnership while Aled Summerhill started on the wing.
Munster had the better of the opening exchanges, going 3-0 up off the tee but a superb Aled Summerhill counter-attack supported by Tom Williams took Cardiff Blues right up to the opposition five metre line. We couldn’t break down the red wall, but a Steve Shingler penalty levelled the scores.
The hosts continued to threaten though, and eventually the try deadlock was broken by the most unlikely yet brilliant piece of play by Ethan Lewis. The hooker sauntered through a gap in the Irish side’s defence before throwing an outrageous dummy to pass the full-back and score under the posts.
However, either side of half-time Munster got into the game and stretched out what appeared to be a commanding lead. Four tries in 30 minutes were helped by both Sion Bennett and Lewis Jones heading to the sin bin leaving the score at 33-13 heading into the closing stages.
At this point it seemed it would be another Irish A side hammering of a Welsh A side, but Cardiff Blues A followed the example set by the first team and set about planning their comeback.
First Callum Bradbury was at the back of a strong driving maul that crashed over, before Harri Millard got his name on the scoresheet and then a somewhat fortunate bounce allowed Dan Fish to streak 70 metres down field and score a fourth on the afternoon for the home side.
With the scores at 32-33 there was one final attack for Cardiff Blues which yielded a penalty kick 55 metres out in the centre of the pitch. With Steve Shingler and Ben Thomas off the pitch, full-back Tom Williams had taken over kicking duties and clearly fancied it, but his effort fell well short, just like the comeback.
Still, plenty of positives for the coaches and players to take to Galway for their encounter with Connacht A in the penultimate round of Celtic Cup action.
The second part of an Arms Park double header on Saturday saw Cardiff RFC host Bargoed in an important Premiership clash.
After last week’s defeat in Carmarthen, Steve Law made two changes to his pack as James Murphy and Morgan Allen moved from the bench to the starting XV, and it was the forwards who played a big part in ensuring the Blue and Blacks got off to a flyer.
Their lineout work off the top laid the platform for Steffan Jones to send Will Rees-Hole over for a first try, before their power set up field position for the centre’s second. Allen himself scored a third try although Bargoed got on the scoresheet to make it 24-7 at half-time.
A penalty try won thanks to a rolling maul kicked off the second half, but Bargoed worked their way back into the game valiantly as the game reached the hour mark, and scored again to set up an interesting last 10 minutes.
Fortunately the Blue and Black forward power kicked back in as first Joey Tomlinson crashed over at the back of one maul, before Martin Roberts sniped off another and a consolation Bargoed score made no difference.
An important bonus point win for Cardiff RFC to move them towards mid-table safety with another home game, this one against Cross Keys, to come next week.
The final piece of the puzzle came in the ever-reliable form of Cardiff Blues Women who made it three from three in the Women’s Regional Championship on Sunday afternoon at St Helen’s.
After a delayed kick-off as opponents RGC arrived late from North Wales, the first half was a real cracker as the lead changed hands four times before arriving at 20-17 to Cardiff Blues at the break thanks to tries from Raf Taylor, Molly Philpott and Manon Johnes.
The second half was the Raf Taylor show though, as the right winger scored a second half hat-trick to take her tally to the game up to four tries and saw Cardiff Blues win 35-27 and stay undefeated in the competition.
Cardiff Blues Women now bring their Women’s Regional Championship campaign to an end with a showdown against last season’s champions, and other unbeaten side this season, Ospreys. The game is back at St Helens this Sunday with a 14:30 kick-off. Come on Cardiff!