Rugby Union: Swansea's fine finish: Cardiff pipped by Welsh champions

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The Independent Online
Cardiff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

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WHAT had all the makings of a meaningless end-of-season farce, with Swansea having won the Heineken League title the previous weekend and Cardiff resting their big guns for Saturday's Swalec Cup shoot-out with Llanelli, turned into a cracker of a match.

Cardiff's kids were told to go out and push themselves into the selection frame for the cup final, and they did this remarkably well for three- quarters of the game, while Swansea revealed great pride and passion.

Swansea were the classic club of unfulfilled potential until league rugby came in; now they are arguably the best organised and structured club in Wales. The signs are that Cardiff, too, are improving; Alex Evans, their coaching organiser, has toughened them up mentally and physically and there is a desire to succeed again.

That was obvious after two minutes when the Cardiff back line moved the ball sweetly to Owain Thomas, the left-winger, who conjured up a brilliant kick-and-chase try. Better was to follow when Swansea were forced to concede a penalty try for collapsing a scrum and at the interval Cardiff were 14 points to the good.

Swansea could have been excused a little end-of-termitis, but instead of capitulating, they showed the quality of true champions. Two converted tries and a penalty reduced the deficit to two points before Andrew Booth, the scrum-half, kicked an amazing long-range drop-goal from a ruck. That gave Swansea the lead, eight minutes from the end, and brought a champion season for the All Whites to a fitting close.

Cardiff: Tries Thomas, penalty try, Palfrey; Conversions John 2. Swansea: Tries Forster, Ball; Conversions Withers 2; Penalty Withers; Drop Goals Booth, Weatherley.

Cardiff: S Davies; N Ferns, A Palfrey, J Hewlett, O Thomas; C John, G Baber; K Matthews, H Bevan (capt), P Sedgemore (L Mustoe, 44), J Wakeford, S Roy (P Ager, 14-20), C Mills (P Ager, 26), H Stone, V Davies (B Evans, 39-44).

Swansea: D Weatherley; S Barclay, J Ball (A Williams, 67), S McIntosh, S Marshall; P Withers, A Booth; C Loader, R McBryde (capt), K Colclough, M Evans, R Moriarty (A Moore 50), J Forster, I Davies, I Jones.

Referee: W Bevan (Clydach).

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