What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports:
Cliff Morgan’s memory was honoured all over Wales at the week end but his old club – the Blue and Blacks of Cardiff – lost their opening game of the season.
The shame was that rain and wind dictated that two adventurous sides had to play pragmatic rugby in the awful conditions. Regional rugby may take centre stage in Wales but club rugby looks in good health with the old guard such as Cardiff, Newport and Aberavon now joined as equals by new boys in the guise of Llandovery, Bedwas and the Carmarthen Quins.
Club rugby may not attract the crowds of 50,000 that saw Cardiff - with the inimitable Morgan starring - play Newport in the 1950s but it still provides good entertainment for the spectator at a fraction of regional cost.
“The most famous club in the world” has kept its character and identity in the face of change whilst small clubs like Llandovery have forced their way into the national picture by dint of good management, astute coaching and brave ambition.
Llandovery chairman Handel Davies and opposite number John Huw Williams epitomise the dedication of so many hardworking officials to improve the level of the semi-professional game in Wales. “We are thrilled that a little club like ours can host such a great club as Cardiff but equally thrilled that we can stand level with them after years of effort to improve,” said Davies. “Our greatest achievement as a club was the Konica Minolta Cup Final win over Cardiff back in 2007 so there is a special affection for the capital city club,” quipped Davies.
Llandovery’s recent record against Cardiff is good - the Blue and Blacks last beat the Drovers in November 2010 – and they kept their winning ways with a gritty display.
With the wind, Llandovery did most of the pressing but fly half James Garland was wide and short with a 40 metre penalty before referee Brickell awarded a penalty try when Cardiff collapsed a lineout drive.
A succession of Llandovery scrums had Cardiff backpeddling and conceding penalties but they hung on to deny another home try.
Garland missed a straight mid-range penalty and Llandovery paid for their lack of finishing when Cardiff clawed back three points in their first incursion into the home 22. Fly half Ceiron Thomas slotted a close range penalty in the 35th minute to make it just 7-3 at the break, advantage Cardiff.
The Drovers forwards had to carry the ball into the wind as often as they could in the worsening conditions and had a let off when Thomas missed a penalty. Cardiff skipper Johnathan Edwards was yellow carded and, although Garland missed another penalty, a strong scrum surge led to centre Adam Warren racing away for a converted try.
A yellow card for lock Bryn Griffiths weakened the Drovers who soon conceded a converted try to replacement Nick White but with veteran prop Andrew Jones a force at the scrum they hung on for a deserved victory.