Cardiff 25-24 Bristol

Cardiff Blues completed their pre-season campaign with a win over Bristol at the Arms Park in a much improved performance after last week’s loss to Newport. With plenty of internationals yet to return as well it gives Danny Wilson some interesting selection headaches before the Pro12 season starts with Edinburgh at home in two weeks.

There were 14 changes made to the side with only Macauley Cook retaining his place in the starting XV. Debuts were handed to Matthew Morgan, Nick Williams, George Earle, Kirby Myhill and Rhys Gill, while internationals Rey Lee-Lo, Ellis Jenkins and Kris Dacey returned alongside a fit-again Alex Cuthbert and Wales U20 tighthead Dillon Lewis.

Only Macauley Cook (background) survives from the starting XV at Newport

Bristol arrived over the bridge with a long injury list but still managed to include Rhodri and Jordan Williams, Jack Lam, Soane Tongaʻuiha, Jordan Crane and former Cardiff player Gavin Henson. With the sides drawn against each other in the Challenge Cup pool stages this season it was a good chance to get a win ahead of the campaign and a little psychological boost before our European meetings.

The game was a back and for affair with Cardiff making the early running thanks to Tom James’ first try of the season after an Alex Cuthbert break. Henson responded with a penalty for Bristol but soon our half-backs combined with Tomos Williams’ tap penalty and pass setting up Steve Shingler for his second try in as many games. The away side finished the first half the stronger however as Tom Varndell flew down the left wing leaving Cuthbert in his wake with a groin injury.

Hopefully the first of many tries for TJ

Substitutions ruined any hope of an exciting second half contest to follow the first as the game became a disjointed affair, only Varndell again creating anything through his pace as Cardiff squandered scoring opportunities with ball in hand and off the tee. It wasn’t until the 70th minute when Dan Fish released Aled Summerhill to score that the game began to wind down and when Blaine Scully grabbed a try the win was sown up.

Not even a Tavis Knoyle howler could ruin the afternoon as he managed to completely fluff kicking a loose ball into touch to end the game and allow Ben Mosses over for a try. 25-24 final score and a confidence boosting victory heading into the last two weeks of pre-season before the Pro12 returns.

Blaine Scully touches down for the last Cardiff try of the day

There were vast improvements from the performance against Newport, mainly in attack where we returned to last season’s form of moving the ball wide and at speed. Particularly in the first half the impact of Alex Cuthbert and Tom James on the wings with Matthew Morgan at full-back we looked dangerous each time we had the ball. Factor in a centre partnership of Rey Lee-Lo and Cory Allen that is still in it’s early stages and we have the makings of a real high quality back line.

The only negative aspect of the attacking game were the breakdowns where at least four times in the first half alone we gave up possession due to players going into the tackle isolated, or Bristol defenders not being able to be moved from over the ball. It’s not a criticism of any forwards not making it to the tackle area quick enough, it’s a requirement for better decision making from those with ball in hand.

Matthew Morgan looked dangerous on the counter attack

Defensively the general shape and speed of the line was a step up from Rodney Parade, although on a few occasions, for both of Varndell’s tries for example, it was one-on-one tackling that let us down. A tendecy of particularly the backs to go high on the contact is a slight concern and will need to be addressed as we do somewhat sacrifice strength in the back line for attacking speed.

The set piece looked solid in the first half, with the first individual credit going to Kirby Myhill who had a strong debut (comments on Twitter aside) particularly in his lineout throwing. Behind him both George Earle and Cam Dolan formed a steady second row pairing while Macauley Cook again had an exceedingly solid game.

Kirby Myhill made a good impression on the CAP pitch

Into the backs and Tomos Williams looked very sharp at scrum-half with a decent understanding developing between him and Steve Shingler. Rey Lee-Lo carried on his form from the end of last season while Tom James and Matthew Morgan are an extremely potent counter-attacking threat.

In terms of man-of-the-match it is a toss up between Nick Williams and Steve Shingler for me, with Williams having a very effective debut. He is an absolute mountain of man and doesn’t tackle people so much as bully them. At one point he went counter-rucking at full speed and just left a trail of destruction in his wake, and with this power he possesses a quick pair of hands. If he can be managed correctly and stay fit the number eight will be a huge asset.

However, my choice for MotM is Shingler. He’s only played just over 80 minutes worth of rugby but he already looks a shrewd acquisition. I don’t think I was alone in thinking he would mainly be used at full-back or even centre but he is the season-long fly-half we have been crying out for.

Try scorer Steve Shingler was my man of the match

Planted at first receiver he always seems to have a yard of space to pick out the pass and isn’t afraid to create things for himself, with two tries in as many games already to his name. Hopefully he can be the backbone to the side during the international window that we’ve lacked for so long.

So pre-season is over and done with, overall a positive feeling but with some points to work on. Edinburgh at home is two weeks away so plenty of time to right any wrongs and welcome back the internationals who weren’t quite fit enough for pre-season. The start of the season will be massive after such a dreadful losing streak last September to November, but I’m excited for what lies ahead. Come on Cardiff!!

The season is soon!

Cardiff v Edinburgh

Saturday 3rd September

Cardiff Arms Park, 19:35 kick-off

Tickets available here

Live on S4C


 

Newport 38-28 Cardiff

Pre-season started in disappointment for Cardiff Blues as a strong opening 30 minutes from Newport saw them secure victory before Danny Wilson’s men even got going. Four tries in that half-hour period for the home side put the game beyond doubt as Cardiff slipped into the habits of last season with a slow start followed by a resurgent second half.

Newport’s tries from Rynard Landman, Elliott Dee, Adam Hughes and Nic Cudd in the first half, as well as T Rhys Thomas in the second gave them the win alongside five conversions and a penalty. In response Cardiff crossed through Lewis Jones in the first half, before Steve Shingler, Josh Navidi and Dan Fish completed the attempted comeback after half-time for a 38-28 scoreline.

Elliot Dee Newport
Elliot Dee is congratulated by captain and testimonial man Lewis Evans

 

As results are not the highest priority on the agenda in pre-season games I won’t go into a full match report, rather pick out some positive and negative points. Obviously the final score is disappointing as losing to your closest rivals always will be, but as I said to the Cardiff fan next to me at Rodney Parade, we got hammered in 2009/10 pre-season before going on to win the Challenge Cup.

Let’s begin, as the game did, with the negatives and the slow start. It’s understandable that there would be some rustiness when it comes to match sharpness after three months off and it was tricky playing against a Newport side that was almost a full starting XV and who had commenced pre-season the week previously against RGC. Having said that the level of performance in the first 30 minutes was unacceptable.

The players were effectively bullied out of the way a number of times as Newport seemed to gain yards with every carry. Tackling low is effective in bringing the player down, but when the ruck is not subsequently contested it allows for quick ball which was our downfall for at least two, probably three of the tries in the first half-hour. This quick carrying then put the home side on the front foot far too often.

Brok Harris Newport
Newport prop Brok Harris makes yards

 

This leads me onto the second negative which was our lack of an openside flanker. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive Josh Navidi fan, but at this stage I do feel he’s a better number 8 or blindside than he is an openside and requires an Ellis Jenkins or a Sam Warburton in the team with him for the majority of the breakdown work as Navidi only managed one turnover in the roughly 70 minutes of game time he had.

The final piece of defensive negative was the lack of line speed and the exceedingly narrow setup adopted. In context, everytime Cardiff were in possession Kingsley Jones shouted ‘line speed’ from his gantry viewpoint. Meanwhile our defence seemed happier to stay deeper in a line with the outside players looking more likely to blitz and cut of any wide channels. Unfortunately this meant that either Newport made ground tucking it up the jumper and carrying, or via throwing the long pass out wide.

Away from the open play defence there were negatives to be found in the set piece as Newport scored twice from driving mauls. I’m sure Danny Wilson will have been particularly upset by this as he prides himself on his maul setup, but it may be a case of over-coaching as the players seemed too concerned with the maul being spun around to allow a breakaway off the back that they forgot to defend the simple shove through the middle.

In the line-out in the first half Matthew Rees’ throwing was all over the place and lost us possession at least twice before going off at half-time, while from the restarts Jarrod Evans’ lack of ability to get any height on the drop-kicks meant any chance of recovering possession was lost immediately. Both of these issues were corrected though by the introductions of Ethan Lewis and Steve Shingler at the beginning of the second half.

Onto attacking and the negatives came in two forms. The first of these was a problem at the start of the game and goes back to rustiness as hand speed was non-existent meaning we were so easy to defend against. Newport’s defence came storming up as per Kingsley’s instructions and stopped us getting any attacking width at all. With a three-quarter line of Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith and Harri Millard there were no ball carriers and as such yards were hard to come by.

Harri Millard Newport
Although Garyn Smith looks bigger, Millard and Evans didn’t compliment him

 

It wasn’t until the second half that the ball started to be moved about in the fashion of last season’s successful ending but players lacked the composure to be able to capitalise on this. A number of handling errors, too many kicks from good positions and some generally poor decision making meant a number of promising attacking chances came and went, and by the end of the game I was left with no memory of one clean Cardiff line break. Plenty for new backs coach Matt Sherratt to work on.

Anyway, it wasn’t all doom and gloom on Friday night in Newport, for once, and there were plenty of positives to take back to Cardiff and civilisation. Picking out some individual performances to start with, I thought James Sheekey looked good on his first outing at this level. Despite only turning 22 next month he is a sizeable player at 6’5″ and 18st which he used to good effect carrying well and looking steady under the high ball.

I thought Lewis Jones had a solid game, desperately trying to inject some pace into a struggling first half attack with quick ball from the ruck and picking up a deserved try. Garyn Smith did well in his first real test wearing the number 12 jersey, while Blaine Scully also deserves a mention for an industrious performance with little to no service. Dan Fish though was the clear Cardiff man of the match and finished the game by scoring the pick of the tries.

Lewis Jones Newport
Lewis Jones was impressive in the first half picking up a try

 

Steven Shingler was the man who changed the game in the second half as his dynamic running and excellent passing from 10 opened up spaces out wide. He wasn’t afraid to change the direction of the attack and linked up well with Tomos Williams who looked sharp at scrum-half. Shingler will certainly provide excellent back-up to Gareth Anscombe and hopefully help develop young Jarrod Evans who looked a bit nervous and out of shape as he stood static and too deep at first receiver.

Team-wise there were positives to be found in the scrum, which was largely dominant over a Newport front row made up almost entirely of former Cardiff players. Salesi Ma’afu particularly looked good against Thomas Davies in the first half although is still too unfit to have an impact on open play. The line-out in the second half was solid under Ethan Lewis’ guidance, although attacking mauls didn’t get a proper work out.

Generally in open play the ball was moved quicker in the second half and although there was the handling errors mentioned above, when we did manage to move possession wide space was found. For example Fish’s try was easy after Shingler found a yard on the left wing and put a perfectly weighted grubber in behind.

Steve Shingler Newport
Steve Shingler looked comfortable in Cardiff pink

 

So overall there were good and bad points but the strapline of Friday night is ‘work to be done’ from a Cardiff point of view. Next weekend’s encounter with Bristol at the Arms Park will be intriguing as many of the summer international players are expected to return after a week of righting the Newport wrongs. The newly promoted Aviva Premiership will present a much tougher challenge and it would be nice to get a result to go into the season with. Come on Cardiff!!

Cardiff v Bristol

Pre-Season Friendly

Cardiff Arms Park

Saturday 20th August, 15:00

Tickets here, also included Cardiff RFC v Taunton, 12:00

Dan Fish Newport
Dan Fish was by far the best Cardiff player on Friday night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiff Premiership 7s Final Report

Cardiff Blues 7s headed up to Coventry and the home of Wasps rugby, the Ricoh Arena, on Sunday to take part in the Singha Premiership 7s Finals for the second time. After qualifying as Welsh group winners in dramatic fashion at the Arms Park, they were looking to go one better than losing to Gloucester in the Cup semi-finals last time out.

Richard Hodges was forced into a number of changes due to Wales U18 call-ups making Ben Thomas, Dane Blacker, Jim Botham and Ben Jones unavailable and Geraint Walsh had Pontypridd commitments. This meant the call-up of academy flanker Morgan Sieniawski, Cardiff RFC full-back Ceri Young, Newport 7s players Ethan Davies and Jonny Lewis, and Llanelli 7s’ Aron Wyn Evans.

Cup Quarter-Final: Cardiff v Sale

Cardiff 7s opened the afternoon’s proceedings with their Cup quarter-final game with Northern group runner-up Sale Sharks. Hodges chose the experienced starting VII of Wales internationals Adam Thomas, Owen Jenkins, Ben Roach and Ethan Davies, alongside GB Students 7s player James Beal and previously capped Wales 7s Jonny Lewis. Academy youngster Declan Williams completed the line-up.

The game got off to a cagey start before two quick fire tries saw Cardiff take a 10-0 lead at half-time. First a quick Jenkins tap-and-go penalty saw him dive over from five yards out, followed by Jonny Lewis going it alone from the base of the scrum. A comfortable lead at the break but it was quickly destroyed by Sale’s Curry twins scoring two tries in two minutes, with a conversion to take the lead.

A dramatic final five minutes ensued as Jenkins put Cardiff back in front with his second try of the game following neat play in midfield with Williams, who subsequently kicked the conversion. However it was to be Sale that would strike the fatal blows to our Cup campaign through firstly eight-try sensation of the group stages Paolo Odogwu, and then Curtis Langdon following a neat break off the top of a lineout.

Owen Jenkins 7s Final.jpg
Owen Jenkins gets past Sale’s James Mitchell

 

Plate Semi-Final: Cardiff v Northampton

However, the afternoon was not over for the squad as losing the first game meant shifting to the second tier competition, something we’ve become quite accustomed to in XVs, and taking on the Saints who had fallen to Exeter 38-12 in the quarter-final.

If the Northampton side thought a 26 point deficit was bad, they hadn’t seen anything yet. Ethan Davies’ try inside a minute set the tone for the game, and although a Northampton try briefly put them two pints behind, further tries from Davies and James Beal saw us take a 19-5 lead at half-time. Another three tries from Joe Tomlinson, Adam Thomas and Jonny Lewis meant a last-minute Saints try was only a consolation in a 40-10 hammering.

Adam Thomas 7s.jpg
Adam Thomas helps complete the rout of Northampton

 

Plate Final: Cardiff v Harlequins

Following that battering of Northampton it was into the Plate Final for the Cardiff 7s players and a chance for a second trophy in two weeks. Standing in the way were last year’s Challenge Cup pool opponents Harlequins who had lost to eventual Cup winners Wasps before beating Newcastle in the Plate semi-finals.

Things did not get off to a good start at all for Richard Hodges’ men as Harlequins scored two breakaway tries through Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas and Dino Lamb-Cona, which sounds a bit like a curry. However we managed to get back into the game just before half-time as Ethan Davies and James Beal both showed off their pace to finish some good team moves. Two Davies conversions made it 14-12 to Cardiff and we were right in the ascendency.

The second period started how the first ended with Beal grabbing his second, but the tide swung back in Quins’ favour thanks to two tries in as many minutes from speedster Jonas Mikalcius to put the London side 21-22 ahead. However, as they showed at the Arms Park, the Cardiff 7s side is not one to give up on a game and new boy Aron Wyn Evans adopted that ethos brilliantly as he scored a fantastic individual try with just seconds on the clock.

Harlequins could not muster a response and Cardiff Blues 7s won the Singha Premiership 7s Plate by a scoreline of 28-22. An excellent way to start the season with two pieces of silverware by early August. Although there were no senior contracted players involved I’m sure they would have been watching and are friendly with those players who did represent us, and the excitement and confidence of winning the trophy will filter through.

It’s all about bringing the winning mentality back to the club and with the XVs pre-season starting on Friday ahead of a huge season, that is more important than ever. Come on Cardiff!!

Cardiff 7s 2016 Final winners
The Singha Premiership 7s Plate winners 2016 – Cardiff Blues

 

 

Cardiff Premiership 7s Report

Rugby is back! Well, kind of, it’s 7s but it’ll do. Nearly three months since the 2015/16 Pro12 season ended the now traditional new season curtain raiser of the Singha Premiership Sevens rolled into Cardiff Arms Park.

Cardiff named a mixture of a squad with five tier 2 academy players joined by three full-time Wales 7s, two Cardiff RFC and a Pontypridd RFC player. As explained on the preview to the tournament, I do feel this devalues the event somewhat as rather than Cardiff Blues 7s being represented it becomes more of a Cardiff 7s Barbarians side, or a Cardiff 7s Select in the mould of the British and Irish Cup. Nevertheless, it involved a rugby ball and they were playing in a Cardiff kit which will do for me.

Game 1: Cardiff v Ospreys

The evening kicked off with a game against our Swansea rivals and coach for the evening Richard Hodges named an experience starting side with all three Wales players, Adam Thomas, Owen Jenkins and Ben Roach, being joined by former Wales 7s international Geraint Walsh and current GB University 7s James Beal. Alongside them were the academy players Dane Blacker and Ben Thomas both on their first professional senior outings.

A cagey start to the game saw Ospreys keeping possession in midfield and struggling to break down an organised Cardiff defence. It eventually took a chip over the top to try and create something and a lucky bounce saw the ball break for the opposition, only for Jenkins to cynically trip the Ospreys man. A yellow card and a penalty try were awarded with Jonathan Spratt taking advantage of us being a man down to make the score 0-10.

Ben Thomas 7s
Ben Thomas attempts a tackle in his first senior outing

 

We did eventually return to full compliment when Jenkins returned from however long you’re in the sin bin in 7s, and Walsh soon had a chance when A. Thomas released him but the ball was spilled. It was A. Thomas himself who crossed for our first try after Jenkins managed to produce an offload out of nowhere and a fantastic pick up from the former Wales 7s captain meant he could dive over.

5-10 down at half-time but it was all Cardiff in the second half as tries from Jenkins and Luke Crocker with his first touch off the bench, plus a B. Thomas conversion, saw us take a 17-10 lead that an unconverted Ospreys try in the corner couldn’t catch. A solid opening win against potentially tricky opponents to give us a good footing in the tournament.

Ben Roach 7s
Ben Roach goes past Ospreys’ Joseph Scrivens

 

 

Game 2: Newport 26-12 Scarlets

Game 3: Newport 19-21 Ospreys

Game 4: Cardiff v Llanelli

Richard Hodges stuck with the same starting VII for game two against the West Wales side which produced a huge first half performance. Owen Jenkins opened the scoring by diving over following a quick tap penalty, before directly from the restart Llanelli spilled the ball to Ben Roach who found A. Thomas and then Dane Blacker to fly down the touchline. To cap it off James Beal grabbed a try after Geraint Walsh made a half break.

15-0 up and cruising at half-time but Llanelli made a game of it in the second half with two quick tries, one of which was converted, to come within three points. However Luke Crocker again made an impact off the bench putting in a huge hit and winning the turnover before offloading to Ben Roach for an easy finish. A successful conversion from Declan Williams meant a final-time score of 22-12 and a bonus point win.

Dane Blacker 7s
Dane Blacker gets on the scoreboard vs Ospreys

 

Game 5: Llanelli 5-24 Ospreys (Ospreys qualify)

Game 6: Cardiff v Newport

So after the Ospreys beat the night’s whipping boys of Llanelli they had secured qualification. With the top two going through to the Grand Final it was a straight shootout between Cardiff and Newport to join them. Richard Hodges made two changes to the starting VII, bringing in Luke Crocker and Jim Botham in place of Ben Roach and Geraint Walsh for some fresher legs.

It was an ever-present in the starting side though that struck first as Dane Blacker was on hand to sprint down the left wing after Newport’s Aled Brew spilled the kick-off. The reigning Premiership 7s champions struck back though with three tries before half-time as Cardiff legs seemed to be getting tired at the end of the night.

Looking down the barrel of a battering momentum swung back in our direction though when the referee started reaching for the pocket in our favour. First Ethan Davies was yellow carded for an off-the-ball incident involving Owen Jenkins who promptly went down the other end and scored a try, converted by Declan Williams. In the act of scoring Jenkins received a dangerous swinging arm to the face which was punished by another yellow card to send Newport down to five men.

Owen Jenkins 7s
Owen Jenkins takes a forearm to the face

 

All the pressure was on Cardiff now with a two-man advantage and it got to Adam Thomas who spilled the ball in the redzone. Fortunately the ball came back and Joey Tomlinson went over in his first and only appearance of the night. With two minutes to go things were looking good but then from the kick-off we allowed Newport to go right through and score a converted try from 80 yards. It was criminal defending and would have been a cruel way to go out were it not for Dane Blacker still having the legs to sprint over the line.

Geraint Walsh was the main with the easy conversion and Cardiff Blues Barbarians Select 7s were the Singha Premiership 7s Welsh leg champions. As it was pointed out to me on Twitter, the previous two winners have gone on to have dreadful seasons, us in 2014 and Newport last year. However, the side we put out last night is so far from our Pro12 squad I would hope it doesn’t matter!

Cardiff 7s 2016
The Cardiff 7s celebrate their late win over Newport

 

There were plenty of reasons to be positive besides the result as well with the young academy players performing well. Ben Thomas was particularly impressive to start the evening standing at first receiver, all bodes well for a future XVs career at outside-half. Meanwhile Dane Blacker has incredible pace for a scrum-half which I hope to see sniping form rucks soon.

Declan Williams and Jim Botham both seemed encouraging in the bits we saw of them, but we didn’t get a proper look at Ben Jones unfortunately. Cardiff RFC’s new signing James Beal also showed a fair bit of a pace and it will be interesting to see how he gets on playing on the wing for the Rags.

So the 7s side will reconvene in two weeks for the Singha Premiership 7 Grand Final at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry with the confidence of being Welsh champions. Whether Richard Hodges will stick with the same squad is yet to be seen but check back here in time for the Final to get all the team news. Come on Cardiff!!

Cardiff 7s 2016 winners.jpg
Cardiff Blues Barbarians Select 7s – Singa Premiership 7s Welsh champions

 

Singha Premiership 7s Grand Final

Sunday 7th August – 14:00

Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Live on BT Sport

Tickets Available here

Cardiff Blues Supporter’s Club coach trip tickets here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Premiership 7s: Cardiff Blues Review

A bright summer’s Saturday afternoon in Cardiff saw rugby return at he BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park for the first time in the 2015/16 season. The second edition of the Singha Premiership Sevens Welsh group again pitted Newport Gwent Dragons, Llanelli Scarlets, Ospreys and, of course, Cardiff Blues, against one another in a Judgement Day of short-sided rugby as the season curtain raiser becomes tradition.

With the only form to go on coming from last year’s event, Cardiff and Newport were the teams to beat, having only been separated by a point, courtesy of a Cardiff penalty try in the final minute of the final game, with both progressing to finals day at Twickenham Stoop. On that occasion, Llanelli had come third, while Ospreys had come very last, picking up just one try bonus point all day. 

Last year’s Premiership 7’s Welsh Champions – Cardiff Blues

Cardiff named a similarly inexperienced side to the squad that appeared last year, only Ellis Wyn Benham, Ben Roach, Owen Jenkins and Seb Davies returning to defend their title. The pleasing aspect for Cardiff coach and Academy manager, Richard Hodges, is that 10 of the 12 players are academy graduates, only Chris Knight from Llandovery, and the surprise of the squad, Gavin Dacey of Pontypridd, not coming through the development pathway. However, both have Wales sevens experience, along with Lewis Jones, Ben Roach and Garyn Smith, to compliment the exciting potential of Mike Hale and Jarrod Evans. 

First up was last year’s whipping boys, Ospreys, however the Swansea side proved they were here to play a bit more this year, as the teams traded tries twice in the first half to reach the break even, Owen Jenkins and Harry Davies on the scoresheet. With the second half underway it appeared that the sevens squad had a tribute act to the 15-a-side Cardiff team of last season planned, as they didn’t start playing after half-time until Ospreys had scored three tries. By the time they did re-appear it was too late to salvage anything from the match result, although tries from Ben Roach and Ellis Wyn Benham did at least mean a try scoring bonus point. 

After beating Newport in their first game, Llanelli were up next for us, with a win vital to keep any hope of a top two finish alive. After a tense first half, the score was just 5-0 to the West Wales side at half-time, and now I shall give you three guesses what happened at the start of the second half. Yep, you were right first time, Cardiff didn’t bother playing. Three tries later and it was 26-0 to Llanelli, with the host club on the way out of the tournament already. A very late Mike Hale try did nothing to diminish the embarrassing scoreline, 26-5 at full time. 

Owen Jenkins looks on as Seb Davies puts in a tackle

So all that was left to do was to try and stop Newport qualifying for the Final in a few weeks by beating them in the final game of the day, at least get some joy out of an otherwise dreary day. In one of the best games of the day things, predictably, didn’t quite go to plan for Cardiff early on, with Newport going 12-0 up, before Owen Jenkins crossed for his second try of the day to make it 12-5 at half time. Yet again, Cardiff conceded as the second period began, and a yellow card meant we were down to six and on the back foot. But finally some fighting spirit showed, Mike Hale crossing for his second of the day, with Ben Roach making it a hat-trick of Cardiff braces, either side of a Newport score, to leave a full-time result of 31-19, enough to the see Newport top the group by points difference over Llanelli.

Newport steal our trophy

An all round disappointing day, especially with the Sevens following a heavy 7-50 loss to Coventry for Cardiff RFC. However, as mentioned earlier, Ospreys matched our single point in last year’s sevens competitions, and they were easily the best Welsh team last season. Plus, it means we don’t have to send a squad to Twickenham the day before we play Newport at home in a 15-a-side friendly. So pros and cons, who said this is blog was pessimistic! Although there’s a long way to go in the season yet….