Cardiff battled to a narrow win away at Carmarthen as Steve Law’s men finished pre-season unbeaten after a very beneficial 80 minutes of physical action.
After a comfortable 69-point win over London Welsh at the Arms Park two weeks previously, the Blue and Blacks were looking for a more competitive game as Thomas Davies, Iestyn Harris, Rory Bartle and Gwilym Bradley joined the pack, while Ethan Lloyd, James Beal and Barney Nightingale were included in the backs.
The Rags started on the front foot largely thanks to a superb 50/22 kick from Jack Maynard, but a physical Carmarthen defence kept us at bay and even turned defence into attack when Lawrence Reynolds headed down field on turnover ball, but Morgan Griffiths just lost control of the ball as he went to score in the corner.
Quins managed to get a foothold in the game on the back of that though, and with Cardiff frequently infringing the home side soon took the lead when Josh Batcup opted for three points off the kicking tee.
The Blue and Blacks were able to hold the line despite the Carmarthen onslaught though, and eventually got an attacking opportunity of our own when Jacob Beetham’s high kicked bounced into his grasp. Although his offload for Ryan Wilkins didn’t go to hand, the field position allowed Jack Maynard to level the scores after the hosts infringed following a Barney Nightingale half-break.
On the back of this the first try of the game came Cardiff’s way. The Quins tried to play out after receiving the kick-off but conceded a turnover and Tom Hoppe spotted space behind the defence on the transition to kick ahead for Beetham to chase down and score. Maynard added the extras to make the score 3-10 at the break.
It seemed like the Rags were pushing to extend the lead early in the second half, but just as we pushed the Carmarthen line a poorly staffed breakdown led to a turnover and the Quins kicked down field with Nightingale having to concede a lineout in his own 22. From the resulting throw the driving maul was set and Rhys Lawrence was in possession to score, with Batcup adding the extras.
The final 30 minutes were a physical and defensive battle of attrition with neither side giving much more than inch. The only opportunities to score came in the form a penalty each, and while Batcup missed his, Maynard struck his sweetly to give Cardiff a three-point lead that wouldn’t slip.
A game where two sides looked to exert physical dominance without a huge amount of attacking adventure, but some organised and powerful defence from both kept the scoring chances to a minimum. No doubt they will both be involved in trophy battles throughout the course of the 2021/22 campaign.