Cardiff RFC stormed their way to a first WRU National Cup Final since 2007 with a big win over Llandovery at The Gnoll, home of Neath RFC.
It stretches the current unbeaten run to a huge 14 games now, and continues the amazing feat of winning every game in the calendar year of 2019 across all competitions.
Head coach Steve Law had welcomed back Ben Thomas to the starting XV, after he was on the bench against Bridgend last week, while Tom Daley was named on the blindside, and key men Gareth Thompson and Joey Tomlinson returned to the squad.
And it was those final two names that scored the first points of the day, when Tomlinson celebrated his 100th Cardiff RFC appearance on the end of a smart move that was started by Edd Howley before Max Llewelyn drew the final defender, with Thompson converting.
Howley was back on the attack a few minutes later but his break was brought to an end, before a penalty was secured at the breakdown which Thompson kicked. Llandovery’s Jack Maynard responded with a kick of his own a few minutes later to get the opposition on the scoreboard.
The Blue and Blacks weren’t about to let the Carmarthenshire side back in the game though, and the backs were on form to put a forward over again as centres Will Rees-Hole and Ben Thomas combined to release Joe Gatt on the outside before he drew the last defender for Morgan Allen to run in easily.
Thompson missed the conversion but made up for that quickly as Llandovery attacked dangerously only for the fly-half to put in a huge hit and force a knock-on, full-back Edd Howley pounced and produced a moment of brilliance to sear up the field, chip kick over the top and finish brilliantly before the ball went dead.
Another conversion was missed but the scoreboard still showed a 20-3 for Cardiff with 25 minutes gone as we threatened to run away with the game.
This seemed to spark the Drovers into life, and they set up camp in our 22, forcing us into conceding back-to-back penalties and only failing to score as Joey Tomlinson and Kieran Martin combined to hold the ball up over the line.
Eventually Llandovery did force their way over for their first try though, converting it to cut the lead, but a big Zach O’Driscoll turnover prevented them scoring again before half-time.
After that spell on the back foot, Cardiff came out rejuvenated at the start of the second half and were so close to two tries, with Will Rees-Hole spilling possession within yards of the try line, and Tom Daley ruled in touch as he reached to score.
We didn’t take our foot off the gas though, and eventually the pressure told with Llandovery getting narrow in defence and Edd Howley powering over for a second try of the game.
The Drovers were now 10-25 down and looking at the last chance saloon, going on to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Blue and Black defence.
A lapse that Gethin Jenkins will not be happy with allowed the Llandovery outside centre to break and put his scrum-half over to cut the lead to eight points, but two crucial plays, a turnover on the floor and a Kieran Martin lineout steal prevented any further dangerous attacks.
Martin Roberts did see yellow for an off-the-ball tackle, but it didn’t seem to impact Cardiff as the introduction of Rhys Carre made a huge difference at the scrum, allowing Gareth Thompson to kick a penalty, before an interception try from the fly-half sealed the deal.
A full-time score of 17-35 in what wasn’t a classic Cardiff performance this season, but did the job perfectly in what was a far more tightly contested semi-final than the scoreline suggests.
Steve Law’s men will now challenge in the first Final for the Blue and Blacks since 2007 when we take on Merthyr at the Principality Stadium on Sunday 28th April.