What the Papers Say – Tom Hughes reports:
After a great run of nine cup and league wins including last week’s 34-24 win at Carmarthen, the Drovers went down to a narrow defeat, despite sharing ten tries with Cardiff at the Arms Park.
But the two bonus points confirmed second position in the Premiership and they will now have home advantage over Ebbw Vale in the semi-final play-off on May 8 with the prize for the winners a trip to Sardis Road for the final against Pontypridd.
Having already won the National 7s back in August, they now have the chance of a terrific Sevens, Cup and Premiership treble which would be an unprecedented achievement for a town of barely 2,000 souls.
Pontypridd will have something to say about that after losing to Llandovery in the semi final of the cup and at Sardis Road will be firm favourites to beat any club in the Premiership final.
These are heady days for the small Carmarthenshire club – founder members of the WRU back in 1881 – as they prepare for the two or three knockout games but their astute coach Euros Evans has his feet firmly on the ground. “It’s a huge ask for a small squad to keep our momentum going,” said the former first class hooker, “but we had to rest some players. It’s going to be tough but we have 25 or so players ready to give their all to the cause.”
With only half the side that beat the Quins, Llandovery were not at their best and Cardiff took full advantage of unusually slack defence to build up a commanding 40-16 lead, helped by the sin binning of away flanker Shaun Miles.
Tries from centre and Man of the Match Richard Smith (2), prop Rhys Carre, lock Cam Dolan and replacement James Loxton - all converted by fly halves James Whittingham and replacement Callum Hall - trumped tries from ex-Cardiff full back Will Thomas and No 8 Richard Rees plus two conversions by fly half James Davies.
With the appearance of seven replacements Llandovery finally raised their game, and unconverted tries from lock Jake Baker, replacement back row Richard Brooks and flanker Shaun Miles ensured a couple of bonus points.
Attention switches now to the SWALEC Cup final in Cardiff this Sunday evening (KO 5 30 pm).
Both the Quins who lost at Bridgend and the Drovers have rotated selection before announcing their final sides later this week. Come what may, it will be a Tywi Valley club that will be Welsh Cup champions come Sunday evening.
The following report is courtesy of the Cardiff RFC website
Cardiff ran in five tries as they won the last game of the season against Llandovery.
On a lovely sunny afternoon at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park both sides were looking for a win for different reasons. Cardiff’s stop start season was in danger of petering out with five straight defeats. The Drovers needed a bonus point win and a Pontypridd loss to secure top spot in the Principality Premiership.
The Blue & Blacks came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders. After securing the kick off the home side worked their way down field through a series of pick and drives before unleashing the backline. When that move was stopped impressive debutant Rhys Carre was able to burst through and with three would be tacklers hanging on to him plough a way to the line to score. James Whittingham added the extras and was on target again as the Blue & Blacks doubled their lead two minutes later. This time the backs move did work, Richard Smith cutting a great line off a pass by Ceri Young to race through unopposed.
Llandovery then started to play some rugby themselves. Former Blue & Black Will Thomas gliding through from 25 metres out, James Davies adding the conversion. And they were on level terms five minutes later. A catch and drive was initially stopped a few metres short, but No 8 Richard Rees was able to get his hands on the ball and dive over in the corner. Davies levelled things with a beautifully judged conversion from the touchline.
The Blue & Blacks were still determined to play running open rugby and whenever they got their hands on the ball they ran hard at the Drovers defence. A series of penalties just before half time led to the home side’s third try. Although the lineout near the Drovers line was stopped Cam Dolan was on hand to pick up a loose ball and power over. Whittingham landed the conversion to give Cardiff a 24-16 half time lead.
The second half started with another Blue & Black try. Again the ball was secured from the kick off and was moved quickly into midfield. When the quick ball was recycled swift hands made a gap that Smith and Young were able to exploit putting James Loxton over in the corner for the bonus point try. Callum Halls expert conversion from the touchline added gloss to an outstanding team try. And three minutes later the lead was extended. A burst up-field by Olli Smyth was continued by Carre. When he linked up with Smith he was able to outpace the defence for his second. Hall was again on target with the extras.
The Drovers though were not in the mood to throw in the towel. Jake Baker got a try back from short range, but the conversion was wide from Thomas and when Shaun Miles went over near to the posts with eight minutes left a grand stand finish looked on the cards. The conversion though was charged down leaving the Drovers six points behind. And that is where they stayed as the Blue & Blacks controlled the remaining minutes and smash the ball into the stand as the referee blew for no side.
Cardiff finished 9th in the table with Pontypridd topping the pile. Llandovery will now play Ebbw Vale in a play off at Church Bank to see who will go on for a tilt at the title at Sardis Rd a week later.