Cardiff RFC battled through Ebbw Vale and storm-like conditions at the Arms Park to record a sixth straight Indigo Group Premiership victory at the start of this season on Friday night.
A number of changes had been made to the Blue and Blacks team that beat RGC the week before, but it became clear very early on, when one of the new faces in Dan Fish kicked possession high into the air within the first few seconds of the game and Ebbw Vale spilled the ball, that the weather would be the main addition to the game.
There was some attacking intent, as Edd Howley and Mason Grady teamed up well down the right wing on a kick return, but that chance was spilled as knock-ons became a theme of the home side’s attack during the game as a whole.
Cardiff were winning the penalty count and Fish was kicking us into the opposition half comfortably, but handling errors from a raft of players prevented us from opening the scoring in the first 20 minutes.
Ebbw themselves were looking a lot more comfortable in retaining possession, as they went through two lengthy attacking phases on the edge of our 22, but the Blue and Black line held strong with the visitors unable to get close to the try line and eventually conceding penalties.
In the end it required a moment of magic from Fish to get points on the board, when a penalty advantage won in the opposition 22 allowed the fly-half to nudge a grubber kick through and fall on the ball himself.
Goal kicking was proving tough in the conditions, with Ben Thomas missing the conversion before the Ebbw place kicker shanked a penalty well wide, seeing the score remain at 5-0 as the teams went in at the break.
Early in the second half the visitors thought they had got themselves over the try line at last, when scrum-half Dan Babos chased a kick through to score, but he was adjudged to be in front of the kicker and the Blue and Blacks survived.
As Cardiff emptied the replacements bench early in the second half the game became well and truly bogged down in penalties and scrums, with Ebbw eventually getting off the mark at the mid-point of the second half with three points after the hosts were offside.
That seemed to wake the Blue and Blacks back up a bit, and although we were still struggling to hold on to possession, we were able to play mostly in the Steelmen’s half, increasing the pressure and eventually something had to give.
Unfortunately for the Ebbw tighthead prop it was his temper as he was shown a red card for what I have subsequently been informed was a punch at a breakdown.
That act was immediately punished as Cardiff kicked to the corner and set up what was effectively a 15-man driving maul to get over the line with Ethan Lewis credited as the scorer. Gareth Thompson nailed the conversion to make the score 12-3.
The Blue and Blacks saw the game out to maintain a seven-point lead at the top of the table, and will now look forward to facing Ebbw Vale again at the Arms Park next week when the teams meet in Specsavers Cup action. Kick-off is 7.05pm on Friday night.