Cardiff's Davies back to old self in old slot

Cardiff 33 Bridgend 25
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It is almost a year since Jonathan Davies resumed his rugby union career at Cardiff. Much was expected of his return yet little happened in the opening 10 months.

First it was a hernia operation, then knee surgery and finally a family battle against the illness of his wife Karen. On top of all that, he appeared to be playing in a team that did not seem to appreciate him. A year on, things have changed. Davies is fitter than at any time in the past 18 months and he is back in his coveted outside-half slot, where he is calling the shots.

The prodigal is rapidly developing into a firm favourite again at the Arms Park, someone who this season is able to inspire players around him as well as fire the fans.

The new laws have undoubtedly helped him. The faster and more open the game, the more Davies is able to come into his own. He controlled the back line superbly on Saturday and raced 40 metres to score Cardiff's fourth try in a 14-minute spell that put his side 25-9 clear at the interval after Bridgend had taken a 9-3 lead early in the game.

Bridgend came to prove a point and threw Cardiff off their game by standing toe-to-toe with them in two brawls in the opening five minutes. At the end of the second fight, the referee, Huw Lewis, issued yellow cards to the hookers Andrew Lewis and Ian Greenslade, and he handed out a third card in the second half to the Cardiff replacement David Young.

Young, the former Wales and Lions prop, was a mere four minutes into his return to union after a seven-year sojourn in rugby league when he rushed to the defence of Derwyn Jones in the game's latest fight. Bridgend took full advantage of the indiscretion, with Lyndon Griffiths adding another penalty goal to push the visitors to within three points of Cardiff.

It took a set move on the blind side of a scrum to make the game safe for Cardiff. The No 8 Emyr Lewis fed the centre Mike Hall, whose try secured victory and also guaranteed a bonus point.

Cardiff: Tries Thomas 2, Ford, J Davies, Hall; Conversion J Davies; Penalties J Davies 2. Bridgend: Tries A Williams, Griffiths; Penalties Griffiths 5.

Cardiff: J Thomas; S Ford, M Hall, L Davies, S Hill; J Davies (capt), R Howley; P Booth (D Young, 65), A Lewis, L Mustoe, J Wakeford, D Jones, M Bennett (H Taylor, 58), E Lewis, J Ringer.

Bridgend: M Back; P Jones, G Thomas, D James, G Wilkins (L Davies, 42); L Griffiths, W Morris (K Mably, 71); D Francis, I Greenslade (capt), R Shaw, E Williams, C Stephens, C Michaluk, J Burnell (A Williams, 42), J Forster.

Referee: H Lewis (Pontypridd).