By: Paul Hopkins
A late Tom Florence try rescued a bonus point for Swansea as they feel to a 20-27 defeat to title chasing Cardiff.
Both sides appeared eager to run the ball in glorious sunshine and it was the Blue and Blacks who had the first notable attack, but prop Ollie Drake became isolated in the tackle and was penalised.
Cardiff were soon back on the attack with the backs getting ball out wide to flanker James Richards, who forced the Whites’ defence offside. Centre Harri Millard chipped to the corner and hooker Alun Rees rescued a poor lineout, before the ball was swept out wide for full back Cameron Winnett to squeeze over at the corner. Fly half Luke Scully missed the conversion.
The home pack found themselves in all sorts of difficulties at the scrum and they gave away a penalty, which Fish chipped up to the 22. A mis-firing lineout gifted Swansea possession though and they were able to clear.
A superb link up out wide between Fish and Millard took the Blue and Blacks over the 22. Another collapsed scrum by the home side gave Cardiff a penalty, which Scully duly converted.
Swansea hit back immediately through a Cai Evans penalty goal straight from the restart after number eight Alex Everett held onto the ball too long in the tackle.
And things got even better for the home side moments later when full back Iestyn Hopkins broke through a tackle and fired out a pass to winger Harri Houston who used his pace to get up to within a metre of the try line. Scrum half Chris Morgans was then able to get quick ball out wide through the hands of Evans for flanker Callum Bowden to score. Evans converted to take his side into the lead.
A huge penalty touch finder by Evans took the All Whites deep into the Cardiff 22. Lock Matt Dodd took the lineout with hooker Lewis Lloyd spinning up to within a metre of the line, before the visitors gave away a penalty for failing to roll away in the tackle. Evans kick the three pointer.
Hopkins showed superb strength as he fielded a loose kick that took the home side up to the 22, but Evans wasted possession by kicking straight down the throat of Winnett. However, Rees spotted a gap in the middle and fed scrum half Ellis Bevan who was stopped on the 22. The visitors quickly recycled the ball out wide for Millard to score. Scully converted.
Half-time:- Swansea 13-15 Cardiff
A powerful maul by the Cardiff pack forced the Whites offside and Scully chipped to the corner with the penalty. The visitors set up an unstoppable maul with Rees crashing over for a try. Scully missed the conversion.
Lock Sean Moore was penalised for cynically killing the ball and Evans chipped up to the 22, but Swansea were unable to move the most of the lineout and surrendered possession.
Replacement lock Cai Davies got quick ball out of a scrum, but Houston’s chip ahead was well dealt with by the Blue and Blacks with Bevan showing a good turn of pace to sprint through the middle, where he found Millard in support. Morgans illegally prevented the offloaded and was sent to the sidelines for 10 minutes.
The visitors opted for a close range scrum and replacement number eight Morgan Allen was stopped a metre short before prop Rhys Barratt was again held up over the line to give Swansea a relieving goal line drop out.
A massive high kick by Evans was taken by Fish who sparked a Cardiff attack, but Millard was well tackled into touch. Cardiff stole the lineout and a well worked move out wide saw Millard find flanker Nathan Hudd who exploited an overlap out wide to score. Fish converted.
The visitors came close to bagging a fifth try when Fish and Bevan linked up, but a handling error gave Swansea a much needed chance to clear.
Morgans took a quick tap penalty inside his own 22 but an outstanding tackle by Hudd forced him to hold on after the tackle, though Fish missed his effort at goal.
The Cardiff pack was penalised at a scrum and a huge kick to the corner by Evans gave the home side a late attacking chance. Replacement scrum half Connor Tantum tried to go around the blindside but the supporting winger Llien Morgan was bundled into touch just short of the line.
With Swansea gaining supremacy up front in the closing stages, a powerful scrum saw Morgans get a quick crash ball out to centre Florence, who touched down with the last play of the match. Cai Evans converted to secure the Whites a losing bonus point.
Full-time:- Swansea 20-27 Cardiff
Tries:- Callum Bowden (31), Tom Florence (80+6)
Cons:- Cai Evans (32, 80+7)
Pens:- Cai Evans (29, 37)
Yellow cards:- Chris Morgans (57)
Tries:- Cameron Winnett (14), Harri Millard (39), Alun Rees (46), Nathan Hudd (67)
Cons:- Luke Scully (40), Dan Fish (68)
Pens:- Luke Scully (27)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 9C
Man of the match:- Alun Rees
15 Iestyn Hopkins
14 Harri Houston (rep: Liam Popham 65)
13 Tom Florence
12 Osian Knott (rep: Hanno Dirksen 65)
11 Llien Morgan
10 Cai Evans
9 Chris Morgans (rep: Connor Tantum 74)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Cameron Jones 61)
2 Lewis Lloyd (rep: Garan Williams 67)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Jordan Pritchard 74)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Huw Sutton (rep: Cai Davies 53)
6 Jay Williams ©
7 Callum Bowden
8 Will Hickey (rep: Lewis Jones 63)
16 Garan Williams
17 Cameron Jones
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 Lewis Jones
20 Cai Davies
21 Connor Tantum
22 Liam Popham
23 Hanno Dirksen
15 Cameron Winnett
14 James Beal (rep: Brad Denty 44)
13 Harri Millard
12 Max Llewellyn
11 Dan Fish ©
10 Luke Scully
9 Ellis Bevan (rep: Ethan Lloyd 77)
1 Rhys Barratt (rep: Eddie Drake 77)
2 Alun Rees (rep: Evan Yardley 61)
3 Ollie Drake (rep: Llyr Green 65)
4 Sean Moore (rep: Morgan Allen 50)
5 Rhys Anstey
6 James Richards
7 Nathan Hudd
8 Alex Everett
16 Eddie Drake
17 Evan Yardley
18 Llyr Green
19 Mackenzie Martin
20 Morgan Allen
21 Ethan Lloyd
22 Harrison James
23 Brad Denty