Cardiff RFC returned to winning form in style with a five-try victory over Llanelli at the Arms Park on Saturday evening to re-establish a 15-point lead at the top of the Indigo Group Premiership table.
Steve Law had opted for six changes to his starting XV before the game, as Cardiff Blues players Iestyn Harris, Will Davies-King, Lewis Jones, Jason Harries and Ioan Davies were all included, while Zach O’Driscoll returned to the back row.
It seemed like it would be a dream start for the Blue and Blacks when inside four minutes the pack had secured a penalty try though a strong driving maul, but replays showed an illegal ball transfer as the drive was forming and the score was chalked off.
Llanelli tried to work their way back into the game over the next 10 minutes, but some staunch home defending stood in their way, with Ioan Davies putting in a try saving tackle before a huge Edd Howley hit pushed the visitors back.
They also missed a penalty to open the scoring but that was nothing compared to the litany of errors made by Cardiff with handling errors and missed touches aplenty during the opening 20 minutes.
In the end it took until the 28th minute for the Blue and Blacks to finally legally get over the try line after some strong carries off the back of a scrum in our own half from Morgan Allen, Jason Harries and James Beal pushed us into the Llanelli 22.
Carrying close to the breakdown drew the opposition in and eventually the overlap was worked with Ioan Davies on hand to run in down the right hand side to give Cardiff the lead with his first try of the season.
Gareth Thompson converted with the help of the post and bar, and was back on the tee just before half-time when the home side extended the lead. An attacking scrum gave Max Llewellyn to carry off a crash ball line and the centre touched down, with the extra points securing a 14-0 advantage at the break.
Just when Cardiff seemed the be cruising though, a lax 10 minutes at the beginning of the second half threw the game wide open as the away side powered themselves level with a quickfire double.
First Chris Long made a clean break through the heart of the Blue and Blacks’ defence and a quickly recycled ball allowed full-back Tom Rogers to go over for Llanelli’s first score of the game.
That was converted as was a second try shortly after when former Cardiff Blues Academy scrum-half Dane Blacker spotted another gap in the Cardiff defence to sprint over for a solo score.
With the score at 14-14 the game was finely balanced, and when Gareth Thompson limped off at fly-half, there was certainly a question mark about how the home side would fare with the memory of a first defeat last week and now with backs against the wall at the Arms Park.
Fortunately Steve Law was able to call on the experience and leadership of Evan Yardley, Tom Habberfield and Dan Fish off the bench, and after a period of possession the lead was restored after Lewis Jones sniped from the back of a scrum and Jason Harries was on hand to crash over at the next phase.
Fish converted before Llanelli made their task to stay in the game more difficult when Dylan Lawley was yellow carded immediately from the kick-off for a high tackle on Max Llewellyn that has potentially given the centre a broken nose.
Almost straight away Cardiff set about punishing the visitors and a penalty that went to the corner was a perfect time to flex the driving maul skills once again as Evan Yardley was credited with touching the ball down to secure the try bonus point.
Fish converted and made it a 100% success rate off the tee late in the game as captain and number eight Morgan Allen claimed a deserved try with a bullocking carry for a 35-14 final scoreline.
A solid outing for Cardiff RFC who dealt with the shock of Llanelli drawing level early in the second half admirably to send a message to the rest of the league that the capital club are still the side to beat.
It was a confidence booster at the start of a tough run for Steve Law’s men that sees them play away in West Wales for the next three weekends, with no games scheduled at the Arms Park until the 29th February.