Cardiff RFC returned to Indigo Group Premiership action with a comfortable bonus point win over Bridgend Ravens at the Arms Park on Saturday.
The Blue and Blacks hadn’t been on the field in five weeks due to the postponement of the game away to Ebbw Vale, and Steve Law also had to overcome an enforced late change as Ioan Davies was flown up to Edinburgh to play for Cardiff Blues with Edd Howley jumping into the starting XV.
There was no sign of any rust or disruption for the home side though as Cardiff flew out of the traps, with Callum Bradbury earning a turnover in defence while Howley, Barney Nightingale and James Beal were a threat with ball-in-hand.
Bridgend, bottom of the league coming into the game, struggled to cope with the intensity and the swirling wind in the early exchanges, and ended up kicking a loose ball over their own dead ball line, giving the Blue and Blacks prime field position with a scrum in the opposition 22.
Cardiff wasted no time in making them pay with a few short phases tying the defence in before the ball was spun wide for Teri Gee to dot down in the corner, with Gareth Thompson notching a brilliant conversion off the post from the touchline.
Howley was a constant threat with his running, especially his kick returning, and another smart break returned the Blue and Blacks quickly to Bridgend territory. One false start of an attacking set and a smart Barney Nightingale kick couldn’t be turned into points, but eventually a first phase attack secured the second try of the game.
Tom Habberfield called the wrap around from the back of the scrum and it was executed perfectly as he drew the final defender to give James Beal the easiest run in on his 50th appearance for the club, with Thompson adding the extras again.
Two quickly became three as that man Howley went on another scintillating run, breaking down the right wing before finding Habberfield on his inside shoulder as the provider turned scorer, Thompson making the score 21-0, and that’s how it stayed to the half.
Despite a slow last 10 minutes before the break, Cardiff wasted no time in securing the try bonus point early in the second period when a penalty was kicked to the corner and the forwards went to work, with Ethan Lewis in possession as the driving maul pushed over.
Thompson kept up his 100% record off the tee with the conversion and a penalty soon after, as the Blue and Blacks seemed to take the foot off the pedal a touch, with substitutions disrupting the momentum to a degree.
There was further disruption when debutant Gwilym Bradley saw a yellow card after one too many home indiscretions, and Bridgend took their chance to deservedly get on the scoreboard as a quick tap penalty allowed Gheorge Gaijon to barrel over.
They almost made it two tries a few minutes later but a forward pass halted their progress, instead having to wait for a Cardiff error as Teri Gee was decieved by the bounce of the ball on a kick cover and Connor Tantum touched down.
However, Joe Scrivens had kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Blue and Blacks with a penalty and then set up a try as he went to flat to the line at first receiver and Bradley, back on the field, ran a superb angle off him to slice through the Bridgend defence and go under the posts.
Scrivens’ conversion took the game to a final score of 41-12 as Cardiff re-opened a 10-point lead at the top of the Premiership courtesy of Carmarthen Quins drawing with Ebbw Vale, but Bridgend slipped closer to relegation on the flip side.
Steve Law’s men will be pleased to have set the tone for the forthcoming end of season fixture block though with games now coming thick and fast. Up next, a trip to third place Aberavon next Saturday.