Cardiff battle hardest

Swansea 9 Cardiff 20: Swansea experience cup humiliation at home while in England Gloucester bridge the gap and Bath take derby honours
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The Independent Online
CARDIFF avenged last season's Swalec Cup semi-final defeat by Swansea with a pulsating victory which was all the sweeter for being achieved in their rivals' citadel at St Helens.

While there was great interest in the battle of the front rows with the two top hookers in Wales in opposition, the spotlight was also on the suspect scrummaging of Cardiff's Andrew Lewis, the Wales prop who is only 22, and it must be said he looked in trouble throughout.

Cardiff were in a gambling mood from the start and, upon winning the toss, opted to play into a strong wind. But it was soon evident we were to have a game in which territorial advantage in each half was the relevant issue.

Both packs were extremely fired up at the beginning and it took a while for them to settle, but all the early omens were in Cardiff's favour as they began to run wider and more freely than the All Whites.

Nevertheless, Swansea nearly scored the first try. David Weatherly kicked through and chased 60 yards only for the pace of Nigel Walker to save the day. From the scrum under the posts Cardiff were penalised and, foolishly, Swansea took a scrum rather than the certain three points. Cardiff broke away and won a penalty under the home posts which Adrian Davies duly kicked.

The Swansea wing Warren Leach left the field with a broken cheekbone and was replaced by Lee Davies. Swansea were then given three opportunities to draw level but Aled Williams took a tap penalty on two of the occasions. One began to sense it would not be Swansea's day, particularly as Cardiff seemed more organised and were constantly stretching the home side with their probing and passing.

Tempers gradually frayed and there was a punch-up involving the two Welsh international No 8s, Stuart Davies and Hemi Taylor. The Swansea forwards started to take on the Cardiff forwards in the scrummages and rolling mauls which led to a collective fight between the two packs and elicited a stern warning from the referee who ordered the two captains to talk to their teams.

With Andrew Lewis in trouble on the loose-head, the Swansea forwards put their opponents on the rack. Just before the half-time whistle, Cardiff conceded a penalty which Aled Williams, at last, kicked to make it 3-3.

Soon after the interval, Adrian Davies kicked a penalty to give Cardiff the lead again. Colin Charvis replaced the Swansea flanker, Robert Appleyard, while Cardiff brought on Owain Williams in place of Emyr Lewis.

Swansea were eventually penalised for dropping a scrum under the posts and the penalty by Davies was a formality. A couple of minutes later Davies neatly dropped a goal and Cardiff had recovered their composure.

However, a penalty by Aled Williams kept Swansea in touch before Cardiff, whose running game had always been threatening, scored a fine try with Mike Hall making the break to put Walker, who still had to beat a man, over for a try.

Again Swansea roared back for Williams to kick a penalty, but in the last six minutes Jonathan Davies, playing at centre, made his one significant contribution of the game with a last-minute drop goal which sealed Cardiff's place in the quarter-finals.

Swansea: R Boobyer; W Leach (L Davies, 21), D Weatherly, M Taylor, Simon Davies; A Williams, R Jones; C Loader, G Jenkins, K Colclough, S Moore, P Arnold, A Reynolds, Stuart Davies (capt), R Appleyard (C Charvis, 46).

Cardiff: M Rayer; N Walker, M Hall, J Davies, S Hill; A Davies, A Moore; A Lewis, J Humphreys, L Mustoe, J Wakeford, D Jones, V Davies, H Taylor (capt), E Lewis (O Williams, 51).

Referee: C Thomas (Neath).

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